This is the less glamourous side of product design, yet it is the foundation on which the rest of the project rests. It establishes the most important factors that will make the new product successful. Without this fundamentally important stage, a project could easily be steered in a direction that culminates in a product that no one wants or needs! Below are some of the tools we use to observe, question and analyse...
Product Data Specification (PDS) - All projects should begin with a 'brief', outlining the idea, the intended market, the unique selling point and the target audience. We collaborate with the client to create a PDS to establish what factors are most important and to ensure synergy between designer and client.
Market research - understanding the sector in which the product will fall, finding competing products and quantifying the product's potential.
Competitor Analysis - Identifying existing products in the market and where your new product fits in. Factors such as cost, technology and features determine what you are competing with. Competing products can be dissasembled to gain further information.
User observation - Groups of users are observed interacting with existing or competitor products to better understand how the form and function can be improved.
Quality, Function, Deployment - QFD is an effective set of tools for developing new products based on the 'voice of the cutomer'. This formal evidence based process translates the customer's voice into weighted design targets, reducing risk and maximising success.