3 Great Ways to Ensure Your Product is Successful
Getting the most out of Industrial Design
How do you know if something is well-designed?
You don’t. It just is.
Most people agree on the value of creativity. The artist, the musician and the poet have been well-venerated throughout the ages. But there is a creativity that hides in plain sight, a beauty that lies in the seamless cohesion among its components.
Industrial Design is an often overlooked, integral part of product development. It is the aspect of the journey that can make or break a great idea. Many great ideas have underperformed or even failed due to ignoring key aspects of what gives a product value. It is foolish to ignore what is the essential component that lies at the heart of a good product. Industrial design offers a deep understanding of user behaviour, ergonomics, shape and materials, manufacturing and function. The discipline of Industrial Design must accompany your journey from ideation, through prototyping and testing, and finally, manufacturing.
Here are 3 ways Industrial Design can ensure your product will succeed.
1. Eliminate Founder Bias – There is a saying among authors, “It’s okay to kill your darlings”, meaning that not all ideas are great ideas. It may be time to reconsider your idea, sleep on it, and bring it to a more diverse cross-section of people. Keeping your idea to yourself or including only sycophants and “yes-men” in the development phase is not going to give you the honest answers that are necessary to succeed. There are hundreds upon thousands of “great ideas” and inventions that were loved, coddled and cocooned from criticisms by this “Founder Bias”. It is guaranteed that the ROI on each one of these endeavours was a profound financial loss. Industrial Design puts this bias to the task so that financial risks are minimized or mitigated. A design team that includes an Industrial Designer in your corner asking the tough questions, when you won’t ask them yourself may seem a bitter pill, but the benefits are invaluable, and you and your idea will be stronger for it.
2. Fail Fast – We are all guilty of this; you’re one hour into a dreadfully boring 2.5-hour film that you’re not enjoying but you keep watching in the hope that something will happen. Spoiler alert: nothing does. This is the sunk-cost fallacy; the phenomenon in which a person refuses to abandon a project because they have already invested heavily in it. We’ve all done it. But there is a way to capitalize on this phenomenon, and that is to fail fast, fail cheap and try something else. Working closely with an Industrial Designer allows you the freedom to fail fast. By including Industrial Design early in the process, you give yourself more room to pivot and adjust rapidly, saving time and money later in the journey. The industrial designer can offer iterations that will allow you to predict the future. It is better to fail early with multiple cardboard mock-ups of your idea and get the design just right, than to be going into the fabrication stage of development and having to go back and tweak your design with the benefit of recently discovered hindsight. Your design team does not have a crystal ball, but they can get darn close.
3. The Right Stuff – Speaking of crystal balls, your industrial designer can also open your eyes to the future. It is not uncommon for the target personae to include people you may not expect. For example, who are the right people? Who will be using your product, process or tool? You may think the end user is your customer, but with whom is it interfacing? Who will service the product? Who will transport it? Who will pay for it? Even, in some cases, how will the product be perceived? You may remember the much-heralded but quickly maligned, Google Glass, and their affectionately dubbed customers, “glassholes”? Throughout product development, there was one very important stakeholder that was completely ignored, to the peril of Google, and that was us, the public. Much consideration was given to the wearer of the glasses, but seemingly none was offered to the people who would be looked at by these glasses. The general public did not want to be perpetually filmed and collectively deposited in Google’s databanks. This was a massive oversight (pun intended) that could have been avoided by revisiting a basic tenet of industrial design, “with whom is your product interfacing?” Fortunately for Google, they have a strong existing business model and seem to be doing alright. They will bounce back from the disaster that was Google Glass. This is but one example of a company missing the mark, but guaranteed, the lesson was learned. These pitfalls can easily be avoided when the team includes comprehensive and effective industrial design.
The journey from discovery through design phases of increasing detail and into manufacturing, and finally packaging, can be an arduous road. It is paramount that you have the right person accompanying you until the end. An industrial designer will get you there, in style.
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