Are you grasping all the potential value in your design-driven product development? Design is a lot more than giving shape to your product – here are five things you should definitely pay attention to.
Design is increasingly being recognized as a value creator. A 2012-report from the British Design Council concluded, among other things, that every pound invested in design in British companies offered a return of £4.
Of course, that only holds true if you actually manage to drive the design-process and are ready to reap the benefits. Whether you do your design and product development in-house or bring in outside consultants, make sure to pay attention to these five aspects.
1. Get closer to your users
‘Putting the users first’ is not exactly new advice. Nonetheless, it’s one of the aspects that many product developers fail to fully embrace. Studying the user means challenging and testing your assumptions, not just trying to confirm your initial idea.
Doing user research and testing can reveal insights you’d never reach without it, paving the way for solutions that create more value to the user and, consequently, you. What’s more, these insights can not only help you create better products, but also inform your marketing or reveal completely new business opportunities.
2. Iterate, test, repeat
An integral part of the design-process is to develop prototypes, test them in relevant settings, and use what you’ve learned to iterate on the product. Depending on where you are in the process, you can develop specific prototypes to test for example form, functionality, user interface or production.
Do not get tempted to skip iterating and testing. While it can be time-consuming, and it may seem redundant at times, it’s also a source of valuable insights that can help uncover errors and inconsistencies – and a way of testing if your ideas are as good as you think.
3. Usability before functionality
New functionality is a driving force for many new product ideas. But it’s the usefulness – how well the product helps the user solve a problem – that defines the product’s value. Hence, more functionality does not necessarily equal a better product.
And even if the functionality is relevant, does the product as a whole offer the user an attractive solution? Is the user interface clear and accessible, and are the ergonomics of the product optimized for how it’s actually being used?
Unnecessary complexity in your product is bad for the user experience – and potentially for your business. Consider some of the best products you’ve owned or used. Even if they are actually highly complex, they most likely don’t seem to be – because a design team has made a dedicated effort to reduce the complexity you face as a user.
Less complexity is not only better for the user experience. It can also make your product more reliable, durable and help reduce manufacturing costs. So whenever you can, simplify!
5. Design for innovation
It’s not unusual to treat innovation and design as separate activities with different objectives. Bringing them together, however, will help you reach new levels of innovation.
In its exploration of problems and solutions, the design process is inherently geared towards innovation. Your new product may start with a pioneering idea or a new piece of technology, but design-driven product development can bring about the innovations that will make your product really stand out from the competition.
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