Sometimes, it feels easier to climb a mountain than to come up with product design ideas. If you’re stuck and can’t seem to find inspiration, we have a few tips to spike your creativity!
These strategies will help you generate meaningful and innovative product design ideas and jumpstart your creative process. From brainstorming and researching competitor designs to prioritizing simplicity and tapping into current trends, there are lots of great ways to generate the perfect design idea.
If you're ready to take your designs from meh to marvelous, keep reading!
Table of Contents
What Is Product Design?
Product design is the process of creating and developing new products or improving existing ones to address the pain points of potential customers.
The product design process is expansive and and involves:
- Identifying market trends
- Understanding user needs
- Planning the manufacturing processes
- Researching materials and technologies
- Testing, evaluating and refining the product’s performance
- Considering physical factors, such as size, shape and color
- Appraising functional aspects, such as usability, durability, cost-effectiveness and environmental impact
There are different product design types but all of them are typically performed by a team of engineers, designers, marketers, and manufactures who work collaboratively with their various skill sets to ensure success.
By using a range of product design tools such as 3D modeling software, prototyping equipment and specialized computer-aided design (CAD) systems, product designers can create accurate representations of the design, no matter what type of product design you have in mind.
Simply put, first impressions matter. Consumers are more likely to buy a product if they like the design—if it’s easy on the eyes and easy to use. Top product design companies can create products that have the power to communicate, differentiate, impress and enhance user experience.
Today, more and more businesses are starting to embrace product design as an essential factor in the success of a product or a service.
A superb product design can:
- Increase sales
- Create brand loyalty
- Improve product usability
- Deliver positive user experiences
- Shape customer perception of a company’s products and brand
- Help reduce production costs by eliminating complexities in engineering and manufacturing processes
Ultimately, good product design leads to better customer satisfaction with products and services which in turn leads to greater profits for businesses. For instance, a good UI raises the conversion rate by 200% and an improved UX design could result in 400% higher rates.
Seven Tips on How To Come Up With Product Design Ideas
Coming up with unique product design ideas is one of the most fundamental aspects of product design development. To get the best outcome, you’ll need to invest time and money into the process, as innovation demands creativity and a lot of patience.
Here are some tips that can lift the weight off your shoulders and spike your inspiration:
- Brainstorm & Research
- Look At What Competitors Have Done To Source Inspiration
- Explore Various Sources for Design Trends and Ideas
- Embrace the “Think Different” Approach
- Leverage What You Already Have & Create Something New
- Focus On Simplicity & Usability
- Keep an Open Dialogue With Designers and Customers
1. Brainstorm & Research
Brainstorming and research go hand-in-hand. Brainstorming helps generate creative ideas, while research provides facts and data to refine these ideas.
During a brainstorming session, start by identifying what problem the product will solve, who it's meant for and what its end goal is.
Then, come up with innovative ways to address this issue—write down every idea that comes to mind without judging or dismissing any of them. Collect a range of objectives from different perspectives which can help guide the direction of the development process.
Research is the next step—look into trends in your industry, analyze competitors’ products, consider customer feedback and demands, investigate materials for usability and affordability—all of which can help craft an excellent design that stands out from the rest.
Finally, take all of this information to develop a prototype product design or concept design you can test before launching the product on the market.
Many product designers don’t conduct user testing, which is a costly mistake you can’t afford to make. That’s why you should hire one of the top product prototype companies to take care of everything.
2. Look At What Competitors Have Done To Source Inspiration
Taking a look at what your competitors are doing can help formulate new ideas, validate existing ones and create a deeper understanding of the marketplace. Study the leading products in the market and understand their key features to inspire new designs. This way, you can also observe trends in the industry and identify opportunities for differentiation.
By studying competitors’ products, businesses can gain insight into the user experience and how consumers interact with other products. It allows for innovative approaches to common challenges, such as size and weight, materials used or ease of use, which can then be applied to the development process.
Looking into what has worked well or went wrong for competitors helps understand potential improvements that could be made to your product design ideas. It aids in adding value to existing products without reinventing the wheel.
3. Explore Various Sources for Design Trends and Ideas
Exploring various sources such as books, magazines and the internet can be a great way to come up with ideas for product design. Books and magazines offer insight into traditional and modern design trends, while the internet offers easy access to current trends in design, materials, technology and more.
For example, looking at recent publications in magazines and industry journals can help identify emerging trends in the world of product design. Similarly, browsing the internet for marketplaces or websites dedicated to product design can open up a whole world of possibilities to explore.
Looking at different types of products will also help you develop unique concepts to use in your designs.
4. Embrace the “Think Different” Approach
The only way to come up with something that hasn’t been seen before is to think differently. When adopting this approach, focus on individual perspectives, analyze the situation from a range of angles and adopt an open mind to explore different possibilities.
Taking risks and challenging the status quo are key to creating innovative insights for product design. Embracing failure as part of learning and experimenting with out-of-the-box solutions will provide the potential for breakthrough design concepts that could go on to be highly successful products.
There are many ways to help adopt this approach, but you can start with mind-mapping exercises, where you write down your thoughts and explore them in detail.
5. Leverage What You Already Have & Create Something New
Look for opportunities to leverage your existing products or services to create something new and innovative. This way, you can use the strengths of each product or service while also capitalizing on the potential demand for an entirely new offering that meets an unmet need.
This could involve taking existing designs, technologies or innovations and tweaking them to create a more efficient, effective and innovative product. You can also take two existing products and combine them into one—the result is a completely different item, such as merging a mobile phone and a music player.
When done right, combining products and services can help businesses expand their offerings, maximize customer benefits and come up with original ideas that stand out from the competition. Let’s not even mention that this approach can save time and resources as businesses can leverage what they already have.
6. Focus On Simplicity & Usability
Keeping the design simple not only makes it easier for customers to understand but also helps keep costs low. The ease of use of a product should be at the forefront when designing it—if the user cannot grasp how to use it, they are not likely to purchase or recommend it. Items that are easy to use and don't require any prior knowledge or special skills to operate are usually the most successful.
Designers should put themselves in the consumer's shoes and think about how they can create something useful for them without making it complicated. Usability testing throughout the development process is a must to ensure your product meets customer needs and can be used in day-to-day life.
By keeping your focus on simplicity and usability, you will be able to create a product design that both satisfies customer needs and contributes positively to your bottom line.
7. Keep an Open Dialogue With Designers and Customers
Cultivating an open dialogue between designers and customers is vital when it comes to product design. When customers give feedback, designers are exposed to a wide range of ideas they can use in their designs, while customers gain a sense of ownership in the product design process, helping build trust and loyalty.
To create products that better meet customer needs and have a competitive advantage in the marketplace, you should:
- Actively listen and respond to customer feedback
- Continually refine product design ideas based on suggestions
- Keep an open dialogue between all stakeholders
By actively listening and responding to customer feedback, continually refining product design ideas based on suggestions, and keeping an open dialogue between all stakeholders throughout the design process, companies create products that better meet customer needs and have a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Keeping customer feedback at the forefront of your product design decisions is a surefire way to create a product that resonates with those who use it.
When coming up with product design ideas, you should also:
- Bring in other professionals from different fields, such as marketing or engineering, for new perspectives on solutions.
- Draw inspiration from everything, be it nature or other designs from various industries like furniture, architecture, or art.
Product Design Ideas: Key Takeaways
Coming up with product design ideas is a process that requires hard work and dedication.
However, by researching your target audience, looking at current trends and technology for inspiration, speaking to industry experts, and exploring different perspectives, you can come up with creative product designs that fit your customers’ needs.
With these tips in mind, you'll be able to approach product design from a strategic standpoint and create innovative products that stand out from the competition.
What are some examples of product design?
Examples of product design range from everyday objects to sophisticated gadgets. These could include designing a new, ergonomic chair to enhance comfort, a modern smartphone prioritizing user experience, or an eco-friendly water bottle that is both functional and supports sustainability. Even the design of a simplified remote control with intuitive buttons is considered product design.
Any tangible item created to solve a user problem or enhance lifestyle can be an example of product design.
How do I start designing a product?
The process of starting to design a product involves several steps:
- Identify a problem that needs solving or an aspect of life that can be improved.
- Research the target market and the competition to see if there are existing solutions and how you can better them.
- Create a product concept, which is a basic outline or sketch of your idea.
- Take this concept further by creating a detailed prototype, which includes every design feature and functional attribute.
- Test the prototype and use feedback for refinement.
What are some poorly designed products?
Some poorly designed products include:
- Ford Pinto — prone to fuel leaks
- Samsung Galaxy Note 7 — exploding battery incidents
- Winchester Model 1894 rifle — numerous flaws in the safety mechanism