Strong design is an essential part of new product development. In the first of this four-part series, Sergei Plishka explains how good design aligns with the needs and expectations of your customer — at every stage of the customer experience.
Small and medium sized enterprises often focus too much of their attention on the technical details of setting up and running their businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector. As a result, attention to customer experience often suffers.
The role of a good industrial designer is to step in and bridge that gap. Good designers put themselves in a customers’ shoes and work to optimise the total experience of engaging with a product.
There are numerous opportunities to impress — or disappoint — a customer. They start when a customer hears about your product and these opportunities continue when the customer contacts you, sees the product for the first time, purchases it, opens the package, sets it up, uses it, maintains it, upgrades it and replaces it.
Industrial designers define your product’s visual appeal, ease of use and maintenance, efficiency of manufacture, reliability, presentation and position against your competitors. At Outerspace, we focus on a product by using this mantra: “Consider, Create, Build, Deliver.”
- Consider the product’s users, environment and relative market position across a range of factors. Customer demand, as well as additional and export market opportunities, are taken into account at this stage.
- Create innovative ideas for improving the product or re-aligning it with current demand and future trends.
- Build and narrow down the ideas — communicate and test concepts through virtual and real prototypes. Prototypes are used for engineering and market testing that help further improve and refine the concepts.
- Deliver, detail and document the solution for manufacturing. Execute and roll out the new design in a timely fashion.
Good design aligns your product with customer needs, desires and expectations. It also is measured by product sales and growth.
In the next part of this series, I’ll share the 10 Commandments that spell the difference between average products and great design.
Sergei Plishka is an industrial designer with Outerspace Design, a product development and design firm based in Richmond.
Image by Kevin Dooley