What is Product Design all about?
The concept of Product Design is becoming increasingly widespread. Once, we could only hear about it in the context of industrial design and the creation of physical products. However, nowadays, it also encompasses services and digital products. At first glance, it seems understandable. But is it really? Do you know exactly what lies beneath it and what stages the design process should consist of to be effective? In this article, we will try to explain that.
The Product Design process and its final outcome
The final outcome of the design process, aside from tangible objects, can include e.g. desktop or mobile applications, websites, or computer software. However, no product will succeed in the market if it’s not functional, and if the intended users are not willing to use it. So, what can be done to make a product stand out, attract its audience, be useful, and financially viable? These questions are precisely what Product Design seeks to address.
During the design process, we must consider three key aspects:
- appeal and utility for the end user,
- technological feasibility,
- business perspective and investment profitability.
One of the key elements of the Product Design process is the concept of Design Thinking, with the focus being on the individual. This approach revolves around gaining a deep understanding of users, searching for solutions to their problems from multiple perspectives and breaking away from conventional patterns. As a result, the products created are innovative, precisely tailored to human needs (both conscious and unconscious), and desired by users. Consequently, they bring tangible benefits to the company, whether financial or in terms of reputation.
In light of this, how should the design work proceed to be efficient, effective, and yield the best possible outcome? The Double Diamond methodology comes with help here, encouraging a comprehensive exploration of the given topic, systematizing actions, and aiding in achieving optimal results.
Product Design Stages
Product Design is an incredibly broad concept. It’s not just about the visual layer and interface design; it also includes research and analysis, conceptual work, product implementation, as well as its ongoing development and functioning. That’s why it’s important to properly structure this process.
Depending on the nature of the product itself and the commissioning company’s resources, the stages of the process and their complexity can certainly vary. However, they typically include the following steps:
- Discover – the phase of empathy and exploration
- Define – the phase of problem definition
- Develop – the phase of generating ideas and creating solutions
- Deliver – the phase of prototyping, giving tangible form to selected ideas, testing them, and refining them
Below, we will take a closer look at these phases. However, before we proceed, it’s important to mention that the path through these phases doesn’t have to be linear. If at any stage, we realize that the chosen direction isn’t suitable (for instance, during prototype testing with users), we can return to a previous stage or even start the process anew. This is done to correct solutions and better align the product with user needs and business requirements.