Demystifying the Design Process
Let’s be honest; new product development can be a daunting prospect! You’ve got a good idea, but how do go about making it a reality? And where do you even begin? Lots of inventors and companies find themselves in that position, and many good ideas never really go any further.
But product development doesn’t need to be scary, in fact it should be an exciting time. There is immense satisfaction in seeing a good idea come to fruition and huge benefit for your business when you get it right. In a competitive market, having the right product is critical to your company’s success, so effective product design is important. And effective design hinges on an effective design process.
So, today, I thought I’d talk a little about my approach to product development, so we can try and demystify the process involved.
Before continuing, I should point out that the process shown below is an example, and may vary depending on the product and project, but generally, it’ll follow a similar structure.
The first step, and probably one of the most crucial, is the development of a design brief. Establishing the right brief is crucial, as it forms a road map for the entire development process. It starts with a meeting between the designer and customer. It’s important for the designer to understand your business, your product idea, your requirements, your aims and your market. Often, there’s an initial research phase to develop and refine the product requirements. Then, the designer prepares a proposal document, including all your requirements for you to review and sign-off before things go any further.
When you’re happy with the brief, it’s time to get started! Firstly, the designer puts pencil to paper, producing a bunch of high-level concepts. This is very much a blue-sky phase and every option is considered and explored.
After that, they’ll generally meet with you to review the best concepts and pick a direction.
Then things really get moving! This is where the designer starts to refine the design, considering every aspect of the product in more detail to make sure it ticks all your boxes. 3D modelling software is used to capture and refine the design.
Next, it’s usually time for another review. One of the most crucial ingredients of an effective design process (and one that’s often overlooked) is good communication. Most customers want to be involved, or, at the very least, they want to know what’s going on. A good designer understands that and will include you throughout the process. It’s your product after all.
If you’re happy with the design, it’s time to build some prototypes for assessment and testing – always an exciting stage!
Once that’s done, there’s usually a progress review to determine if any tweaks are needed.
Then the project moves into the final design phase. This is where the designer works with manufacturers and suppliers to optimise the design and any tooling that’s required. This ensures efficient, reliable and cost-effective manufacture.
And finally the paperwork. It’s not so exciting, but it is important. This includes the creation of manufacturing drawings and everything else you need to put your new product into production.
Over to you
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