Dr. Ralf Speth, the Chief Executive of Jaguar Land Rover once said – “If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.” We couldn’t think of a more appropriate statement when it comes to designing new products.

Right now could possibly be one of the most exciting times for innovators and creatives to develop new products. When people are faced with adversity, like with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, there is always an opportunity to make a real change for the better; create something that will really benefit people.

Yet, despite all the new advancements in the industry, there are still so many inventions that never reach the market. This could be for a variety of reasons, but we’re going to share with you what good product designers do and how to avoid designing a product poorly.

Think about how what you design will help those that use it

You’d be forgiving for thinking that this is a no brainer, but all too often inventors and poor designers forget the most essential part of their creation; those who will use it. In this instance the creatives are only thinking about their own experiences and opinions as to how the end user will feel about their product.

What’s been created might be the most aesthetically pleasing solution to have ever been designed, but if you have no regard for user behaviour, how people will interact with what you’re making and with no concern of whether the project has solved existing problems, you’re on a slippery slope.

Here’s a great example of this from Oslo Opera House Porsgrund.

badly designed coffee cup

The design is certainly distinctive and attractive from a modern perspective. Despite this, drinking from this range of Oslo cups is not only going to be awfully challenging due to the small handles, but you’ll be lucky if you don’t scold yourself on the scorching hot liquid that resides in its handle.

A good product designer will discover gaps, listen to their audience, think about how what they are working on will help those using it. By spending time learning about the environment products operate in, you can express your ideas in specific ways. It takes a good designer to see the outcome is employed to do a job.

An array of tools at your disposal

What’s that old saying, “a poor workman always blames his tools”.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s such a wide selection of tools you can have in your armoury and understanding the role each of them can play in the design process will ensure you know when to use them too.

Whether you sketch, use 3D CAD software, make storyboards or like a hundred other things, you can ensure each stage adds value to the problem you’re attempting to solve. If you don’t expand your toolkit or adjust to suit the needs of the project, you’ll only continue the same design process path over and over again.

Recognise the constraints and be quick on your feet

Uncovering limitations early, embracing and challenging them from the outset of a project separates the ordinary from the extraordinary. If you’re a good designer or if you’re on the lookout for a good product design agency, this is a wonderful value to have.

Don’t get stuck by ignoring your restrictions. Wishing you had more resources and more time will only lead you to showing concepts that never hit the market and telling everyone why. Thinking on your feet to uncover new ways or adapting to find the solution will help you to succeed.

Does the wheel really need reinventing?!

The ultimate aim for new product development is to create a solution for a problem whether the product already exists or not. By insisting your idea needs to be unique, wasting time inventing novel concepts to issues that have already been solved wastes time and money.

IBM Wheel

The best designers visualise the entire journey the user goes on, fitting their elucidation to the bigger picture. Breaking down the complexities into a way that speaks to the intended audience is a far better use of time than discussing irrelevant specifics with the wrong people.

And for the love of god, don’t just make something trendy for the sake of it. If it doesn’t fit with your overall strategy, what’s the point. Nine times out of ten this will only end in tears, as you’ll have created something that’s more confusing and unusable.

Finally, but most crucially…

Obtaining as much quality feedback as possible will be the difference in achieving amazing results or failing. Critical feedback is essential to designing a product that will reach the market. Ensuring an adequate amount of time is spent getting opinions from a variety of people is highly valuable.

Ignoring suggestions because you think you know better, or equally not saying anything just in case someone disagrees with you won’t end well. Listening to enhance on a previous version will help you to address concerns users have.

Design what they need, not what you want.