Product Design Guide

Your ultimate guide to product design
March 29, 2023

In short, product design describes the process of imagining, creating, and iterating products that will be pushed to market. 

One of the key aspects of the field is therefore to make the product fit your end users by understanding their habits, wants, and needs.

The ultimate goal of product designers is to go unnoticed, the best design is one that's intuitive and that doesn't hinder the use of the product. 

Users will know how to use it and manipulate it without giving it the slightest thought.

Product design has implications that reach far out of the creative field as it intertwines with all the other systems in place, from production to sales. 

Each product design choice influences the other branches and vice versa.

UX roles exist to support the design process

UX or User experience refers to a professional practice of product design in which designers focus on the user journeys. 

Take a mobile application, for example, users expect the apps to be simple, and intuitive. 

Features should be explicit and straightforward.

They expect most features to be accessible within a few clicks and not have to scroll through endless menus and options. 

Ux designers focus on interface design and quite often, on digital products.

While technology is a big employer of Ux designers, they can also work on physical product development, such as packaging, support functions, and designing parts of the product.

Product Designers

Product designers have an unusual position in this field and overlap many times with UX designers. 

The major distinction, however, is the fact that product designers pay attention to the product in addition to the user experience.

The product designer helps you create both the product design and its goals and roadmap. 

A product roadmap is a comprehensive overview of product offerings or features. 

When designing a UI experience for users, designers need to think about the business objectives as well as the potential long-term.

Visual Designers

Visual designers are not product designers, but designers. 

As a graphic designer, your focus will be developing pixel-perfect designs compatible with the remainder.

Visual designers focus in the following senses on the final stages in the design cycle — namely, on the prototype stage. 

Visual designers are professionals focused on defining the prototype phase of the design process.

Products and Industrial Design

Initially, industrial design was a process of design used to mass manufacture physical products. 

A sort of creative art that was constrained by the demands of mass production. 

See, creating a masterpiece as a singular item is already difficult, mass producing it and giving the same level of attention you gave the first piece to the other thousands and even more, is an impossible feat.

Most of the creation in industrial design is repetitive, made by machines, the cuts are straight, the shapes simple and the materials are often aluminum, titanium, and steel. 

Elements that could also be used in heavy industries.

All manufactured products are the result of certain choices and design processes which can vary. 

This process involves both artists, and engineers and is influenced by all sectors, from business decisions to user considerations and aesthetics.

Nowadays, the term industrial design refers more to a specific business and aesthetic decision rather than a physical constraint born out of production requirements.

One big technological innovation in the industrial design space is the introduction of computer-aided design which introduces user interfaces to quickly create a 3D model of your product that can be directly sent to industrial machines to build a prototype.

This software serves a broad range of applications from the design process and is a must-have tool for industrial designers/

The 4-step Product Design Process

In short, here is what the product design process looks like

  • User Research
  • Idea Generation and Design Ideas
  • Prototype Build Design Specifications
  • User Feedback and Usability Testing

User Research

Successful products will build on an existing problem. 

Building something out of thin air can be fun but people won't buy something they don't need, except if not heavily marketed.

This part is all about finding what you want to solve, maybe you notice the ongoing traffic in your city and want to build a car-sharing service. 

In any case, you first have to conduct research on your entourage and figure out what people are having problems with. 

This is fundamental as it will be the basis upon which everything is built.

Idea Generation and Design Ideas

Once you have a given problem you want to fix. 

The problem-solving part kicks in, and the user research part isn't over, if you've already got an idea for how you want to solve the problem, that's great!

If not, you'll have to generate ideas by looking at what already exists and at what solutions users have already found. 

In both cases, that secondary research phase will get you to benchmark the solutions you can think of and choose the best one.

It's good to have different ideas that might use different design concepts, this will let you benchmark them and create truly innovative products by combining all that you found in one design solution.

Prototype Build and Design Specifications

Your idea is in place, let's start building the first iteration. 

Your goal should be to get to an MVP or Minimum Viable Product

In short, an initial iteration of your product that has the most basic features, that is functional and that has a primary design.

MVP product development allows you to gauge market demand and make a value proposition very early on in the product development process. 

This helps you save on development costs while getting ready to test your idea in real-world conditions as early as possible.

User Feedback and Usability Testing

Once your prototype is out, you'll be looking at getting the maximum feedback from your initial customers/testers/early adopters through user tests and user interviews. 

This step is crucial as it will guide your next iterations and get your product closer to a product market fit.

A product market fit is a product that fits a given market, it has the features, price, and design that users want. This type of product sells very easily but is difficult to get to and requires several iterations.

Lean Product Design

Lean and Agile approaches to software development are fundamental to bringing new technologies to the market.

In most traditional development methods, you acquire capital first and then move on to designing a product. 

That initial investing phase can be very time consuming and doesn’t contribute much to the result of the final product.

The lean startup method, on the opposite, works because it focuses on innovation and solving real-world problems, the backbone of a working product. 

As opposed to products that rely on heavy marketing to be sold.

Lean Product Design takes the process even further and adds a quick iteration to the development phase of the product in the process. 

The system defines and differentiates the key value proposition and differentiation of the product rapidly, introducing a yet-limited, workable product to immediately spark feedback and initiate the sales process.

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