Have you ever wondered where ideas for products come from? Perhaps you’re a design student or just starting out as a product design professional and are wondering a bit more about the real world, what to expect from your first days on the job and the elusive design brief. You […]
Have you ever wondered where ideas for products come from? Perhaps you’re a design student or just starting out as a product design professional and are wondering a bit more about the real world, what to expect from your first days on the job and the elusive design brief. You might even be a seasoned professional thinking, “what do my bosses sit around and do all day while I do the real design work?”
This article outlines and explores the various early stages of the industrial design process that a product goes through, and more specifically a product being created within a relatively large company in the Consumer Product and Industrial Design world. It covers experiences and workflows from various sectors of the design industry and, more specifically, the toy industry. It does serve, however, as a reasonable account of the overall and general product design process.
You’ll even see the part of the process that exists before designers get to pick up a pencil and let loose with their ideas. A clear direction at the beginning of a product cycle will allow you to progress from napkin sketch to polished product in a timely, cost effective manner.
Let’s explore what to expect when starting your design profession and what it takes to bring a product to life.
Before any design work can begin on a product, there must first be a definition of what the product or product line might be. This definition’s genesis can be consumer demand driven, trends and fashion, competitor products, retail buyer advice, continuation of an existing successful line or company brand strategy, or even based on a really cool and unique invention or idea.
This sheet helps the designer understand appearance and quality levels of rival products, generate fresh ideas and stay away from duplicating shapes and forms.
Once a suitable product opportunity has been identified, a specification document or design brief is created to define the product. This document is usually created by the higher management of a company who’ll have access to information, such as budgeting and buyer/seller feedback, along with an intimate knowledge of the companies existing product line and brand strategy. Depending on the company, this will be led with a bias from Design or by Sales and Marketing.
A play ‘spec’ is likely to list the consumer demographic the product will be aimed at along with a suggested retail price to make sure any ideas stay within realistic cost expectations. A short description of the product is included along with any salient features that may be critical to the success of the design and of course the all important how will the intended user play with the item.
This sheet describes the potential user demographic for an action sports item so the designer sees their target user and the environment, along with situations when the product is used. These references also help suggest certain mechanical constraints or requirements such as ruggedness or weight restriction.