By Gary Rose on 29/11/16 | Category - Product Design

 

I saw a post recently on a job site. "What is the role of a product designer? I find myself intrigued to uncover what the role entails. Is it design? Is it management? Is it research? Does everyone define the role in the same manner?  Anyone have thoughts on this?” The first answer back was "It’s a bit of everything”

In Wikipedia’s entry for product design it says "Due to the absence of a consensually accepted definition that reflects the breadth of the topic sufficiently, two discrete, yet interdependent, definitions are needed: one that explicitly defines product design in reference to the artefact, the other that defines the product design process in relation to this artefact.”

So it’s a difficult discipline to define then!  Let’s have a go at defining it here in 2016.

Product design is broadly speaking the effective generation and development of ideas through a process that leads to new products.  But it’s more than this.  It is in fact a mixture of many varied disciplines some of which are listed below.

  • Product design is about research – understanding users and how they interact with products, understanding the competition and market statistics.
  • Product design is about ideation – understanding and defining problems and exploring solutions for user experience, functionality and form.
  • Product design is about styling – considering ergonomics, aesthetics and human factors.
  • Product design is about engineering – creating parts to meet specific requirements, tolerances, mechanisms and drawings.
  • Product design is about manufacturing – making things simple and keeping costs low.
  • Product Design is about strategy – helping businesses understanding how they can benefit from design.
  • Product design is about collaboration – pulling together various key personnel within a company and bringing in expertise where needed.
  • Product design is about compromise - understanding the wants and needs of many and distilling these down to the right solution.
  • Product design is about branding – understanding how a product will enhance brand values.
  • Product design is about evaluating – building prototypes to test form, function & experience.
  • Product design is about project management – orchestrating how a product will be developed and launched.
  • Product design is about sustainability – considering social and economic benefits, product life cycles and final disposal.
  • Product design is about story telling – communicating a product’s meaning to the target audience.
  • Product design is about packaging and point of sale – understanding how packaging can enhance a product.

Product design is about all of these aspects.  The role of design in modern business is more important than ever in our rapidly expanding globalised consumerist society.  Product design is about making your product stand out from the sea of alternatives. Making users love the product and everything it stands for.  Making your company love its own products too because they’re cost effective to build and make profit!

There is so much more that can be written about what product design is but hopefully this gives you an insight into some of the elements.  Now go and talk to a design professional and see what he can do for your business.

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