9 Tips for Early-Stage Product Development

By SGW Team

“Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.”

Brian Reed

Whether we’re working on an industrial design project, firmware development, or PCBA design and layout, early-stage product development sets a precedent for eventual project outcomes.

From the beginning, our engineers insightfully consider the realities of production, and their decisions ensure that a product transitions easily throughout the entire process. And this level of insight gives our clients an edge as they begin manufacturing their products.

Here are some tips for early-stage product development.

Tip #1: Solve Real-World Problems

The design process begins with a real problem in mind. If a client’s product isn’t solving a problem, they must convince consumers their product is solving a problem they didn’t realize they had.

Tip #2: Prioritize Functionality Over Features

As a general rule, the more features a product has, the less intuitive the product tends to be. Sometimes people want something that just works (and works well) — not necessarily something with too many bells and whistles. As designers, we must focus primarily on function (rather than just a product’s feature set).

Tip #3: Maintain Focus

Take it from us: it’s unusual for any single product to solve all the world’s problems. If you want your product to be popular, it’s wise not to try to design something that can do everything. Instead, design a product that can do one thing well — and can do it better than the competition.

Tip #4: Aesthetics Are Important

Industrial designers bring value to a project because we recognize that look and feel are as important as functionality when it comes to consumer products. Sometimes a product needs to look good and be attention-grabbing. But other times, simplicity is a greater asset. It’s a good idea to understand your market and learn what is important to them.

Tip #5: Attention to Detail

It’s important to get even the smallest details right because these will give your product a competitive advantage — and that can make all the difference in the market. Remember: buyers notice the cumulative effect of a product’s imperfections. Every component deserves your respect.

Tip #6: Good Design is Simple

End users should be able to quickly understand how your product functions. Otherwise, you will have consumers annoyed with a product that doesn’t work for them. That said, it’s best not to assume that a product feature is obvious just because it is obvious to you. Challenge yourself to see your product through the eyes of someone who has never interacted with it before. If end-users are confused or frustrated, they will not hesitate to go to your competitors.

Tip #7: Be Innovative

There aren’t many wholly new and revolutionary products. In fact, most new inventions aren’t new at all — they are improvements to existing technology or an existing method. Therefore, the concept development phase is crucial. Make sure the firm you’re working with is capable of exploring configuration possibilities early on; this will help ensure you connect with end-users.

Tip #8: Design to Last

A long-lasting product is a testament to the designer. Great design never goes out of style! It also reinforces the positive reputation of a brand — because a product is more valuable when it stands the test of time. This is why we design with both our reputation and that of our clients in mind.

Tip #9: A Product Must Be Useful

Great designers do not design for ourselves; instead, we design for others. We keep the consumer in mind and recognize that every component of a design needs to serve a purpose. Usefulness is applied to both the product itself and to every aspect of the design. Every component that is not obviously useful for the end-users can detract from the product’s user experience.

Businesses of all kinds look to SGW Designworks to enhance their product development outcomes. Could your product benefit from our process? Contact us to start the conversation.

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