Product design is a term used to describe the process of taking an idea, one that has been identified as having a market opportunity, then developing it into a viable solution. Product design is not just about the tangible, though. It is also the process of determining what problem exists, developing a solution for that problem, and then validating that solution with third-party or real users. Because of the complexities of the process, it tends to be a task best left to those who have ample experience.
Product Design Is About Solving Problems
Perhaps the most important aspect to understand about product design is that it is not always about the way something looks. Rather, it is primarily about how well that product solves a problem. It’s important to view the aesthetics of any product - as part of the process, because the appeal of a product, particularly a consumer product, can seal a deal on the store shelf for a customer. However, the products ultimate success falls on the product working, and therefore the process focuses on understanding what a person’s problems are and then determines the best way to fix that problem. It sounds easy, but there are many working components in this process.
What Happens During The Product Design Process?
Product design occurs with brand new items or materials. It also applies to redesigning an existing solution to improve upon it or otherwise alter it to achieve something else. There’s virtually a five-step process (five main steps) in product design.
#1: Product Discovery
During this phase of the process, the goal is to design a product that helps a lot of people, so you need to understand what that could be. In this phase, the process involves thinking about future customers. What are their needs? What are their problems? What are their biggest struggles? To gather this information, companies must do online and in-person research, interviews, field work and much more.
From here, it is necessary to prioritize those pain points to determine which are going to be solved with the product. And, then, it is necessary to begin discovering current solutions.
#2: Share and Develop Findings to determine Feasibility
Gathering a team of professionals or others interested in your product is important. Most product designers are working with a group to develop a product. It means coming together to talk, flesh out ideas, and work to develop a solution based on the factual findings from the previous step. Here, you are moving beyond ideas into the development. It’s also important to define who the user persona is – the most likely person to use your product.
#3: Development & Solutions into Workable Options
In this phase, you come together to make decisions. Learn about the features important to the user. Develop a product strategy. And, then, create a list of features and aspects of the product. By developing a working solution, you can create a clear path to building your product.
#4: Prototyping and Validation
Developing that key first production level prototype unit is one of the best feelings, but also one of the most worrisome. In product design, this stage is not just about creating the final product. It is about verifying that production level prototype to test on a bench, in a lab and with real users to get feedback, improve, or even go back to the drawing board.
#5: Design Transfer to Manufacturing