Product design in its broadest definition is a term for the process which typically follows the agreement of a core product development requirement, idea or concept.
Manufacturing companies and entrepreneurs that need to realise a first stage or new version of a product concept first require a visual rendering of the new product’s physical form.
Key questions at this stage may centre around the visual aspects of the new product, its aesthetics i.e. styling, size, colour and shape, as well as its ergonomics i.e. ease of use and intuitiveness.
Importance of the product design brief
A product design project must be briefed to the product designer with as much detail as possible, considering style, form and function.
The more information that can given to the product designer, the better the outcome will be (depending on the skills and expertise of the individual designer, of course).
Many product design consultants offer a brief template to clients which they know will tease out the appropriate information. Internal product design functions may work in different ways, but at the core, a brief is always needed.
Target market and intended use
Prior to getting started on a product design, the designer must understand who the product is aimed at and what it will be used for. Products for hospitals will not require the same level of aesthetic design as a consumer device such as a new kettle or toaster.
The demographics of target users must also be understood, so that, for example colour contrasts and touch features can be included for partially sighted users. Similarly, requirements for users with reduced mobility or movement will also factor into the design of ergonomic features.
Today’s users are time-poor and rarely have the patience to read complex instruction manuals. So product design must encompass an intuitive and inclusive use element which means a product is ready to use ‘out of the box’.
Key to the success of a product will be the logistics and practicalities of its manufacture, often in volume.
The product design process must therefore factor ‘manufacturability’ into the design, taking into account complexity, cost, efficiency and materials.
Product design as a process
A product design process that starts with a concept sketch will lead on to computer generated images, as well as complex computer-generated designs using specialised software such as Creo or Softworks.
From there, early concept or demonstration prototype models may be required, before moving on to more evolved functional prototypes that can be used for testing.
Product design also has a role to play in the specification of key properties such as strength and durability, including decisions on what materials might be used to manufacture.
Depending on the intended use of the product and the profile of user, the conditions and environment in which the product will be used can be reflected in the product design. Ruggedised styling, for example, will be important in a product that will spend its life outdoors in hot, dry, humid or freezing conditions.
In conclusion, product design is both the creation of a visual representation of a product concept, along with the properties the manufactured product must exhibit. At the same time, it is also a process that can last right the way from a blueprint through to the first commercial examples coming off the production line.
Cambridge Design Technology partners with expert partners that provide electronics engineering, prototyping, patenting and even marketing services for when a product is ready to go to market.
For more information about Cambridge Design Technology and our product design services, call Jon Plumb on 01787 377106 or email email@example.com