What is Product Design?
Product design is a process of planning, imaging, creating and then iterating a product to solve the users’ troubles or address particular needs in the specific market. The key aspect to deliver a successful product design is the proper understanding of consumer needs. Furthermore, product designers strive hard to solve problems for people through empathy and knowledge of the prospective consumer’s habits, frustrations, behaviour, requirements and wants.
Product design involves several aspects and will vary from one organisation to another, but the designers tend to follow the same framework or philosophy when comes to product thinking. According to Eriksson, “the product design is a complete process”, which includes validation, as well as designing, crafting, testing, and delivery of the solution.
Table of Content
- 1 What is Product Design?
- 2 Process of Product Design
- 3 Factors Affecting Product Design
- 4 Process Design
Process of Product Design
Product design is a systematic process that involves a number of steps, which are discussed below:
- Generation of an Idea
- Screening of the Idea
- Concept Testing
- Business Analysis
- Product Development
- Test Marketing
- Review of Market Performance
Generation of an Idea
Idea generation is the initial step in the designing of a new product. New ideas can be created by:
- Identifying customer’s needs
- Accepting suggestions from customers
- Taking suggestions from employees
- Brainstorming for opinions on the new product
- Looking into national and international markets for ideas on the new product
- Taking feedback and opinion from agents or dealers
- Analysing new products of competitors
Screening of the Idea
This is the next step where the idea from customers and other markets are studied thoroughly. Once these ideas are analysed, the right ones are selected for implementation. Some queries considered for the new product before selecting or rejecting an idea are:
- What is the need for launching a new product?
- Whether the existing machinery can work and produce the product?
- Can the existing marketing network handle the new product?
- When the new product can break even?
The idea for the new product is selected depending upon the answers to the above questions are cleared. If the answers to these questions are positive then a decision for the product is taken. This step is necessary to avoid product failure.
The next step after idea is concept testing. At this stage, answers to the following queries are found:
- To establish whether the customer understands the product idea
- To determine if the customer requires the new product
- To gather information for finding out if the customers will accept the product
For finding answers to these queries, a small group of customers is selected and are provided with detailed information about the new product. Their opinion is taken regarding the new product. They are asked various questions regarding the new product. Thus, concept testing is carried out to find out the customer’s reactions to the new product. If the maximum numbers of the customers are in agreement with the product, then the business analysis is carried out.
Business analysis is an important step in the new product development cycle. In this step, thorough business analysis is carried out and the organisation determines if the new proposed product is commercially beneficial or not.
The company looks for answers to the following questions:
- Whether the new product is commercially beneficial to the customers?
- What will be the price of the new product?
- Whether there is a need for the new product?
- Whether the need for the product is regular or seasonal?
- Who are the competitors of the new product?
- What are the selling factors?
The product is analysed and examined from the business point of view of the company. If the new product is beneficial in terms of profit it will be accepted otherwise it will be rejected.
During the development stage, the organisation agrees to introduce and announce the new product in the market. The company will take all the required steps to produce and deliver the new product in the market. The marketing and production departments are involved in making strategies for distributing the product. The finance department is involved with the financial aspect of launching the new product. The marketing department has the responsibility of working on marketing, advertising, and issuing posters for the new product.
Test marketing involves the announcement and introduction of a new product in a market on a smaller scale. If the new product is successful and effective in a small market it is then introduced on a large scale. If the product proves to be a failure in the test market, then the company tries to find out the causes for its failure. In case the product fails again in the market then the company has no choice but to reject the product.
After the process of successful test marketing, the company launches a new product on a large scale in the large market. The company makes a large investment in terms of advertising the new product. The business organisation uses various methods for publicising the new product on mass media like television, brochures, radio, newspapers and magazines, hoardings etc.
Review of Market Performance
The last step in new product development is the review of market performance for the product. The company evaluates the marketing performance of the new product and looks for answers to the following:
- To determine whether the new product is accepted and acknowledged by the consumers
- To ensure that the demand, need, sales and earnings are high
- To assure satisfaction level to the customers with the after-sales service
- To ascertain whether the distributers are happy with their commissions
- To ensure that marketing staff is content with their income from the new product
- To identify whether the marketing manager alter the marketing mix as per the changes in the environment
- To find out whether the competitors are also launching any new product in the market
It is essential for the company to regularly monitor and inspect the performance of the new product. They must look to make changes when required for the new product to be successful in the market.
Factors Affecting Product Design
There are various factors that affect product design. A product designer should consider all the factors before designing a product.
- Customer Requirements
- Quality of Product
- Cost Ratio
- User Friendliness
- Effect on Existing Designs
- Work Methods
- Capability of Process
- Material Requirements
The end users or customers are the ones who purchase the product. Thus, it is important for an organisation to consider customer requirements before designing a product. Moreover, the designers should ensure that the product is ergonomically designed so that the customers can use it conveniently in all conditions.
Quality of Product
The design of a product and its quality are complementary to each other. The quality of a product depends on its design as well as conformity. Thus, it is crucial that a good quality product is produced which enhances the product design.
A product should be designed in such a way that it functions optimally and meets the purpose for which it is designed.
A product designer must ensure that a cost effective design is created, which will attract maximum number of customers.
A product should be integrated with all essential features that make its operation simple and comfortable. If the product design is complicated, it will not be appealing to the user.
Effect on Existing Designs
If a new product is designed as a replacement of an existing product, it should be ensured by the product designer that standards materials, parts, components, design strategies, techniques and manufacturing processes are used at the same time keeping the production cost minimum.
A few changes in the work methods can affect the production cost to a large extent. A product designer should be able to use innovative work methods and equipment.
Capability of Process
It is important for a product designer to have the knowledge of the machinery so as to take care of the quality of conformance. The quality of conformance depends on the capacity of equipment and machines. A designer should thus establish a tolerance limit of each machine and equipment.
Packaging is one of the core components of product design. This is because packaging ensures that the product is delivered safely to the end users and also serves the promotional purpose.
The type, quality and nature of a material used in the production of a product affects the design of a product to a great extent. Thus, the designer must have adequate knowledge of the materials.
Process design is defined as the act of transforming the vision of the business, available resources and values into a measurable and discernible means to achieve the vision of the business. The process design may start with the process analysis and best practices from some kind of organisation. Efficiently designed business processes are the key to efficiency, scalability and competitiveness.
Irrespective of whether a company is designing a new process or re-engineering an existing process, it must consider the following points:
- Process analysis starts by identifying redundancies, inefficiencies, areas of risk and so on.
- Standardisation is an attempt to achieve consistency by benchmarking best practices across the organisation.
- Implementing logical key performance indicators (KPIs) identifies areas of improvement including bottlenecks, errors and slow cycle times.
- Automation of repetitive tasks creates scope for employees to contribute in more meaningful, value-added ways of working; thereby boosting their job engagement and satisfaction.
Figure shows an example of process design of making breakfast: