When admiring a flashy new product, whether it’s an iPhone or a website, you never see the hundreds of hours that go into designing it. Great design has become the hallmark of thriving companies today, and consumers expect a superior user experience, or they seek another product. Product design is the process of imagining a way to create an item that solves a customer’s unique problem. Dreaming up ingenious solutions is a product designer’s day-to-day. If you need to work with product design professionals or just want to understand how it all works, this guide will help you understand what it’s all about.
What Exactly is Product Design?
Product design is simply engineering a product with an emphasis on the customer and creating an exceedingly pleasant end-user experience. It’s identifying the consumer’s problem and providing them with a better solution. Product designers use their powers of intuition to design products that cater to customers while solving problems both large and small. Understanding the customer and their habits is always key, and product design teams study up on their biggest wants and desires. Ergonomics, interface, aesthetics, and convenience all play a large role in product design.
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When Did The Idea of Product Design Begin?
So when did creating a product become more than a means to an end? Well, everything changed once we were able to mass-produce products during the industrial revolution.
Before we were able to create products on a large scale, items were handcrafted. You would think a handmade product would be the most tailored to someone’s needs, but they were often too specific to be considered well-designed and lacked the advanced materials and design touches from professionals. They weren’t convenient, and they were very costly due to the amount of time they took to create.
When companies gained the ability to mass-produce products, they soon realized that they would need to differentiate themselves with better designs, features, and benefits to the consumer. This led companies to hire industrial designers to anticipate the needs of consumers and provide them with better solutions.
Product designers are the descendants of industrial designers, and unlike their predecessors, focus on both tangible and virtual products. Every day, product designers create physical products like phone cases as well as digital products like apps and software.
What Kind of Jobs Encompass Product Design?
While your company may not have a dedicated “Product Design Team,” They probably have positions like Creative Director or Designer. Many departments share goals with Product Designers with the same end in mind — making happy customers. Most companies have their own names for positions, but here are some of the most common titles for those directly in product design.
- UX Design teams – Anyone with UX in their title is surely a product designer. User Experience is one of the vital aspects of product design. UX professionals carefully research consumer behavior and find innovative ways to solve their problems. It could be as simple as moving a button or as complex as finding a new and better way to execute a trade on an investing app.
- Prototyping – Prototyping professionals are responsible for bringing the dream to life by creating the first physical or virtual iteration of a product. They will often create models by hand to show the attributes of physical products, or they will create wireframes or digital mockups of digital products.
- Data Analytics – Data analysts might not think of themselves as a part of the product design process. Still, their findings directly influence how companies find the best ways to help customers. Their research informs everything about what a product will look like, from aesthetics to ergonomics.
- Product Designers – Of course, product designers are the main people in this category with the most direct task of providing a superior product offering that caters beautifully to consumer needs. Product designers may have a more senior role in directing others to research, craft, and collaborate, but they can also be involved with every detail from strategy to prototyping.
What is the Product Design Process?
Every company will have a slightly different product design process, but most follow some important principles of UX design thinking. This process includes a series of steps that companies take to create consumer-centric products.
- Having empathy for the consumer and finding their exact needs
- Finding the root problem (sometimes this may be more abstract, like gaining status)
- Create a unique solution that will be more convenient for the consumer
- Prototype and test
- Final approval and product release
Although these steps seem straightforward, the design process can be very time-consuming, while many steps may need to be repeated or reconsidered.
What Are the Best Tools For Product Designers?
Product designers rely on tools that others have thoughtfully considered to enable them to create better products. These can include:
- Graphic design apps like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and others
- Project management tools
- CAD software like Autodesk CAD,Fusion 360, Revit, and AutoCAD
- Data analytics
- Prototyping tools
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Product design is a broad process that enables companies to create better products to differentiate themselves from the competition and improve the lives of their customers. Many companies have embedded the principles of design into their core values which leads to incredibly thoughtful and innovative companies that strive to do right by their customers. Product design is the modern way of crafting products to fit ever-increasing expectations for products that allow an effortless and incredible user experience.