Product Design Success – Part 2

Shoot for the moon, think big, and create outside of the box. I am for all of these and love it when I see it. In a crowded marketplace, it is product design like this that grabs my attention. As far as designing this way I find it imperative to focus on some grounded design principles even while completely swinging for the fences.

Focus on making your product design functional before jazzing it up with features – When I look at a new design or a new prototype or an existing product in the market I want to see that the core function of the product is working well first and foremost. Added features are nice but for really WOW products it is the core function that you are selling. I have been in too many meetings where either the added features are unnecessary and confuse the message of the core function of the product or the added features work better than the core function of the product, both situations do not make for high success.

Sometimes it is better to save extra features for version 2.0, even if you have the features worked out. Phone companies are a great example of this. The features you want are coming on version 8.0 but this does not generally stop people from buying version 7.0 because they are really buying any version for the core function. At a minimum make sure your core product function rocks, spend most of your energy in making it functional and building your story around the core function.

When your product design is truly innovative, something truly new, you win – Ask yourself is my design truly something new or am I just telling myself that. If you are just adding some features onto something that already exists in the market and thinking this is what everyone has been waiting for, then you might have a really tough sell ahead. You need to ask yourself tough questions and be honest with yourself to help qualify your design. The ultimate goal is real innovation, something truly new. Also something quite rare.

Digital levels are a good example of products that for the most part are not innovative. They all have patents, they all claim to be innovative, with this feature and that feature, but when you boil it down they are all still digital levels at their core, small improvements don’t really qualify as real innovation in the marketplace even if they do so at the patent office. There is a big difference between getting investors on-board (who can often be won over with good presentations) and having real success in the market. There are a lot of great ideas but not many are truly innovative with a complete market picture and plan.

What I would say though is that many early ideas that I have seen are not far off of being something truly innovative. So be open-minded if someone gives you “negative” feedback because all feedback is really important and may just turn your project into something special if you stay open to it.

Make your product design timeless – With so many products in the market (today) tied to digital or IoT, it is much harder to make your design timeless today (in the classical sense) than it was 30 years ago. Let’s just all agree that great design will stand the test of time is correct today and will always be, but also that, not all modern design in a hyper-competitive marketplace has to reach this benchmark in order to be a commercial success.

Instead let’s take a different spin on the classic timeless design phrase and turn it into design for longevity, specifically from the point of just making your product and brand better for your customer.

Personally, I have bought a lot of expensive digital products that to be honest were less than spectacularly made, that were not robust enough to withstand daily wear and tear, products that were really a cheat to the consumer based on the retail price point. Price point drives so much in a competitive marketplace but I will always sacrifice a little personal profit if it means that I can build a more robust part out of better materials that will justify the higher price points I am asking my customers to pay. Stand out in the market on a trust factor with your customer and maybe your brand can become timeless.

When you balance your creativity with some grounded design principles your product might just end up having staying power. A product design (brand) with spin-off potential and versions 2.0 to 10.0 achieved through a balance of shooting for the moon, staying grounded in core design realities, and a focus on winning over the customer with a truly unique offer, yes please, sign me up.

Gary Moran

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