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Woman creating a product design. Understanding the product design process.

The product design process is the series of steps involved in creating a physical object. The term usually includes ideation, sketching, digital modeling, prototyping, and manufacturing.

Product design is an interdisciplinary field that integrates many different skills, including industrial engineering, human factors engineering, interaction design, and computer science.

Why Is Product Design Important?

Product design is so important because it can help companies create new products that are better suited to meet the needs of their customers. Good design can also help to improve the usability and aesthetics of a product, making it more appealing to consumers.

People working on the packaging design of a new product.

Without good product design, companies can find it challenging to stay competitive in the marketplace. To be successful, they need to create products that are functional, stylish, and easy to use. In addition, they need to make sure that their products are affordable and meet the required safety and regulatory standards.

The Product Design Process

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to product design. However, most projects typically follow a similar process, summarized below.

Ideation

The first step in the product design process is to develop ideas. This can be done in several ways, including brainstorming, sketching, and using online tools such as CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software. Ideation can further be broken down as follows:

  • Conceptualization: This is where the designer comes up with a general idea for a product.
  • Development: This is where the designer develops the concept further by brainstorming and sketching out different ideas.
  • Refinement: This is where the designer narrows down the options and selects the best vision.

Sketching

Sketching is a quick and easy way to generate ideas. It can explore different concepts and communicate ideas to other people. It’s common for designers to sketch out their thoughts on paper using pen and pencil. This is because it doesn’t cost anything, a business owner can do it anywhere, and there are no time constraints.

Sketching allows the designer to quickly create lots of different concepts without worrying about wasting too much time or money.

Sketches are not usually intended to be used for manufacturing purposes, so they don’t have to meet strict guidelines. However, it is still vital that they are detailed enough to understand what is being communicated.

A Good Sketch Will:

  • Represent a product’s general appearance.
  • Represent the dimensions of a product.
  • Include notes, annotations, and other essential information that provide insight into the design process.

Digital Modeling

Once the designer has selected a concept, they will need to create a digital model of the product. This can be done using CAD software or 3D printing. The benefit of using CAD software is that it allows the designer to create a more accurate representation of the product. It also makes it easier to modify and update the design if needed.

3D printing is a process that creates a physical object from a digital model. This technology is becoming increasingly popular because it allows designers to quickly create prototypes of their products. It also enables them to get feedback and make any necessary changes before moving on to the next stage of the design process.

Prototyping

Once the digital model has been created, the next step is to create a physical product prototype. A prototype is a working model of the product that can be used to test its functionality and aesthetics. It also allows the designer to get feedback from potential customers and make any necessary changes.

The primary purpose of prototyping is to determine if the product is feasible and whether or not it meets the customer’s requirements. It’s also a way for the designer to feel how the product will look and function in the real world. While prototypes are not always perfect, they are valuable for getting feedback and improving the design.

Manufacturing

Once the prototype has been finalized, it’s ready for manufacturing. This is where the product is created using the appropriate materials and processes. It’s important to note that the manufacturing process can vary depending on the type of product being designed.

For example, a product made from wood will be manufactured in a completely different way to one built from steel. Understanding these differences is essential for ensuring that the product is manufactured correctly and meets all requirements.

Manufacturing occurs when the designer has finalized the design and all related documentation. It also involves pre-production planning, such as working out costs, scheduling production time, and hiring staff who have the necessary skills and training.

Marketing

Marketing plan for product design.

Before a product can be manufactured, the designer must know how much it will cost and their target market. This involves several different stages, including:

Once a business owner has gone through these various stages, they can develop a marketing strategy. This will include creating a product website, designing packaging, and generating interest through social media. Their marketing strategy will differ depending on the product and their target market.

Who Is Involved In The Product Design Process?

While a designer can go through the product design process independently, it’s more likely to work in a team with several different people.¬†

Industrial Designers

Industrial designers are responsible for designing products and creating prototypes. They focus on form and function rather than how a product is manufactured or marketed. Having a great industrial designer on a team can be a huge advantage when designing a successful product.

Another way that industrial designers help out in the product design process is by coming up with ideas for new products. They can also help improve the design of an existing product by making suggestions for changes that could make it more efficient or user-friendly.

Engineers

One of the main jobs that an engineer has is to establish technical drawings. This involves creating different views and images of the product, representing important information about its design and functionality.

For example, an engineer may create a drawing showing how all parts fit together and display assembly instructions. Of course, the engineer must understand the product design process and how different components work to make these drawings.

There are many different types of engineers that can work on a product design process. 

Design Engineers

These are responsible for modifying existing products to improve their appearance and performance. For example, a design engineer may enhance a kitchen knife’s grip or make sure that a vehicle has enough storage space. They also give feedback on new product designs submitted by industrial designers and engineers to ensure they are feasible.

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design and build the systems that control how a product works. For example, they may create a system that controls the speed of a fan or opens and closes a door. They also improve the efficiency of products by reducing the amount of power needed to run them.

Industrial Engineers

An industrial engineer’s primary role is to make sure that a product looks aesthetically pleasing. They focus on form and function rather than how a product is manufactured or marketed. As well as coming up with ideas for new products, industrial designers also improve existing ones by making suggestions for changes that would increase their efficiency.

Marketing Professionals

A marketing professional’s job is to promote and sell a product. They come up with ideas for advertising, designing packaging, developing pricing strategies, and preparing sales forecasts. It’s essential to have a good marketing team to launch a new product successfully.

Matchbox Design Group's marketing professionals.

The team will ensure that the product is advertised in the right way to reach its target market. They may also organize events to showcase their new product and demonstrate how it works.

Production Staff

The people who make the product are known as production staff. They are responsible for manufacturing the product using the correct materials and processes. They need to be familiar with the design and have the necessary skills and training. Production staff may also test the product to ensure it meets quality standards.

Conclusion

Many different people are involved in the product design process. However, it’s essential that everyone works together to create an efficient product and looks good. By understanding the different roles that each person plays, a business can ensure that its product will succeed. Having the right team for the job will make each step run smoothly and ensure the best result.