The goal of any product is to solve a problem. A designer’s task is to develop effective solutions to address and mitigate your customers’ struggles. And while problems can appear one after the other, product designers use their skillset to source, experiment, and iterate different solutions.
Various fields of product design help solve problems and support their users. Get to know the different types of product design and best practices for developing products. By the end of the article, you can integrate these into your process and boost your organization’s productivity.
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An Introduction to Product Designing
Product design used to mean the process of conceptualizing, prototyping, and manufacturing a physical item. Any improvements would be applied to its next iteration.
While the idea remains the same, the process is now largely applied to non-physical objects as well.
The digital age demands the constant modification and enhancement of any product, with the idea that any solution can always be improved.
With this, designers should be resourceful, creative, and innovative. These attributes are vital to the development and production process in any industry.
Different Fields of Product Design
The methods mentioned above are typically applied to one of the following fields of product design:
- Graphic Design – Knowing graphic design basics equips designers as they move forward in their careers, whether they stay in the same field or choose to shift in the future.
- Industrial Design – The process of designing physical objects and tools.
- Information Architecture – The practice of organizing a structure of information that helps users efficiently find and share data.
- Motion Design – Also known as animation design, it’s the art of using visual movement to tell a story or enhance a project.
- User Experience Design – Otherwise known as UX design, it involves crafting and optimizing a product to the user’s needs and preferences.
- User Interface Design – Also called UI design, it often works alongside UX design to build a product that’s easy to learn and use for most users.
Different Types of Product Design
The products that you build will fall under at least one of the three main types of product design:
The delicate balance of function and form is at the forefront of interface design. As essential as aesthetics are in keeping users engaged, the interface must be interactive to help them get from point A to point B.
A well-designed interface is understandable at a glance and effectively guides a user throughout their time using the platform. This is typically seen on software applications on your mobile devices, bank ATMs, and other similar terminals.
Developing a process that facilitates a user from start to finish is also the work of product designers.
This kind of product design relates to experience, such as ordering a product and making a purchase, signing up and logging onto a platform, or undergoing security and check-in through an airport. These steps were decided by a designer who developed an efficient process to benefit the users.
In system design, the specialists practice information architecture to organize items and products that make sense for the user to browse the categories available. They will often create a journey map to guide their design choices to assist the user through the process.
You’ll find this type of product design in stores and shops whose displays are intentionally placed depending on the brand’s bid and which is likely to keep you browsing and encourage purchases.
Product Design Processes
New methods are constantly being developed to make the creation process a bit easier. Below are some of the tried-and-tested ways many product designers work with:
- Journey mapping – Shows the designer’s vision for the customer’s experiences before, during, and after using the product. It covers potential pain points and areas of improvement that guide designers in developing solutions for the end-user.
- Minimum viable product development – The conceptualization and development phase featuring a usable portion of the final item. It’s useful in presenting a working sample to potential investors and test groups for feedback and further improvements.
- Prototyping – From paper prototypes to functional designs, prototypes are a convenient method to collect user feedback. Depending on your progress in the design timeline, you can make a low- to high-fidelity prototype if you plan to share it internally with the team or externally with your investors.
- Wireframing – A fast way to get your ideas on paper while also creating a blueprint of your ideas. It’s typically a simple draft meant for your team’s eyes only, so you don’t have to worry about making it look presentable to impress stakeholders.
Steps and Best Practices to Designing a Product
Creating well-designed products always starts from the user’s perspective. Any product should solve a problem for the user.
When it is well-designed, a product is easy to showcase and feature on your online catalog for your audience to discover. Beyond simply building your product, you should learn the newest trends and the best product catalog website designs present in the industry.
Here are the basic steps in designing a product.
Step #1: Goal-Setting and Definition of a Product
Setting expectations is essential in any field, and your team should be the first to know your plans for the project. The most critical step in designing is to collaborate and brainstorm on attainable milestones to mark your development and production progress.
It’s important to focus on building a useful product for your customers. You also need to set a sustainable business model once you produce, market, and work towards a return on your investment in the long run. Planning for the details that make up the big picture can prepare your team for the challenges you’ll encounter in the future.
Step #2: Market and Product Research
Having an idea for a product is a great first step, but you have to know your audience. With easy access to the Internet, conducting online surveys makes it easy to receive essential market information just by browsing social media.
Additionally, with so much information published on the internet, 66% of consumers have high expectations of brands knowing what they need and expect.
Like any business, you aim to provide a service that helps the customer. Knowing their interests informs the choices you make in designing your product.
Step #3: Experimentation and Development
This is where you combine the best ways to build your product and the customer insights you gained in the earlier stage of product design.
You can also look into using product lifecycle management (PLM) systems to help you track and manage your data and progress, which have been beneficial to 89% of engineering leaders. Having a database for this information improves collaboration and communication within the team, which helps streamline the overall process.
Step #4: User Testing and Evaluation
Gathering user test groups to evaluate your product sample will give critical insight into how well your ideas have come to life. Even having three test users can help fix 65% of product issues before they become too difficult to manage.
Every aspect of the project should be checked, such as how it looks, how it feels to use or how it sounds. Applying the best practices for how to name a product can also do wonders in marketing it once it’s launched.
Below are a few points to note when testing user impressions on your product sample:
- Is the product name easy to say and recall?
- What is their initial impression of the sample product?
- How quickly do the test users learn how to use it?
- How flexible or future-proof is it so far?
Step #5: Product Launch and Refinement
The most exciting part of your project has arrived! That said, the work is far from over since your product also needs to reach your customers.
You would usually plan and manage how to market and sell your product before launching your product. Afterward, your plans take shape once your product is released. This is when you determine if the steps you’ve made in product design and development will pay off.
After launch, note how it was publicly received and what changes and updates need to be made for its next iteration.
Key Takeaways on the Types of Product Design & Best Practices
You're free to modify these product design steps and best practices according to your process, but the objective remains the same. The customers’ needs should be your key driver.
It may be tough to overcome at times, but there are tools and techniques to help you learn about your target audience.
Whichever industry you may be in, design a product guided by how it can help the customer, and it can stand the test of time.