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Product Design: What you need to know that they won’t tell you

Failure is never supposed to be the result of anything. Nobody starts-off with a goal to fail but we see people thread that road every day. The difference between success and failure is a matter of wisdom – a knowledge of “what works and what doesn’t” that is gained only from experience. Not a lot of successful people would hand you over the wisdom they’ve acquired but there are those who would. We see wisdom evolve into principles and formulas. And the business of ‘product design’ definitely has one or two of those.

Exposed here are fundamental principles you need to know before you initiate a product design. They are helpful in keeping you from experiencing common pitfalls and let-downs. guy on computer

Insight is prime!

When starting-off a product design, many designers immediately jump into brainstorming their ideas and squeezing-out their creativity. Sad to say, that kind of reaction is what separates the newbies from the experts. It’s good to have ideas and it’s great to be creative but in the industry of product design, the percentage of your uncompromised idea making it, is small to none. Here is what that means in a nutshell: it’s not about you, what you think, and what you think you could make “happen” – it’s about your consumers / users and what’s going to “click” out there in the world. So instead of starting-off with ideas, as most people would erroneously think is the best place to start, think ‘insights.’ I’m going to go ahead and push even further and say: prioritize insights!

To disambiguate, “insight” pertains to the ability to understand people and situations in a very clear way. Now, how does that apply to this business? Well, it’s about understanding your target market. What are they going to surely sink their teeth into? To build up a clear insight, frame yourself with these questions:

  • Who is your target?
  • Are they set to buy?
  • How can you connect with them and coax them to buy?

At this point, you might be thinking ‘What? I don’t get to freely express my creativity in this stuff? What’s the point of calling it designing?’ The answer is, you’ve got it all wrong to think that way. The true test of creativity and artistry is when you are confronted by conditions that are outside your comfort zone. Simply put, ‘this is what you’re dealing with – make it work!”

Feel the pain!

‘It’s complicated.’ When you come across the term ‘it’s complicated,’ Facebook is surely going to pop in your mind. It’s one of the ingenious features of Facebook that hasn’t been offered by other social networking sites. Did it click? Definitely! It so ‘clicked’ that it became part of modern language. But before you get distracted, what you have to focus on here is why Facebook introduced it. Is it to address the diversity culture? Yes, but most importantly and specifically, it’s to make their site friendly for individuals in the diversity culture. Even, friendly enough for these people to patronize it.

This section is entitled, ‘feel the pain’ because it’s about understanding where your user’s pain points are with regards to using your products (in case of innovation) or the products of your rival brands. What Facebook did was to make it possible for social networking site users to customize their relationship statuses, gender, etc. because they felt that these are ‘pain’ areas experienced by users with other social networking sites.

Facebook made their site comfortable to use for their market and liberated these users from the trouble of defining themselves and their lives according to out-dated, inappropriate, and irrelevant social labels. It seems like it’s not a big deal at first that’s why other companies did not innovate but Facebook took care of that small detail, small inconvenience, small friction and it made them stand-out, be successful and smash the competition.

When you understand the pains of your users, you are supposed to engineer your product to relieve that pain. It’s not just about making life easy; it’s about respecting the details and the process. Understand the simple frictions, discomforts, and inconveniences experienced by your users and resolving them directly. Observe the best products and brands out there in the global market; you would see that they are continually competing for the same thing: how to best resolve their users’ little inconveniences.

The ones that provide the fastest solution and innovation are the ones that stay on top of their game.

The narrower the better!

We all start dreamy. Anyone who’s faced with the challenge of building or creating something, always has the urge to start supersized – something that the entire earth population would revel at once. What experts in this business won’t tell you is that building a product is much like building a culture. You have to start from a small group of patrons, and then expand when demand is full grown. Facebook started as a social networking site for college students in the United States only. Amazon began by exclusively selling books. After they have perfected their designs and met full-customer satisfaction, they burgeoned almost naturally to reach more demands and demographics. They are like cancer. Starting-off small and ending with a big hit that they are almost indispensable in the market. Hence, it would pay off to keep it narrow at first. Scale-down to the specific demographic you want to serve.

Why?

Well, because this inverted pyramid philosophy gives you the benefit of lowering your economic risks and having enough space and time to perfect your product. It allows you to create designs that are specific and attainable so you don’t get stuck or lost in the design process. It minimizes conflicting variables and gives you the space to focus all your technology in making a great experience for your users; and saves you the risk of losing big time and ending up in a fiasco.

Conclusion

You see, designing a product doesn’t have to be a dreadful trial-and-error process. Everyone can start-off with a winning edge, if only they know the basic principles to make their product a success. Save yourself the fear and experience of failure by remembering the foundations of a good product design: insight not ideas; making a good user-experience; and starting-off small but finishing big.

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Oliver Gacosta

Oliver Gacosta

Oliver Gacosta is a senior web designer with seven years of experience in graphic design and web development. He is a proud husband and father who describes himself as a man who loves Jesus and the Bible. When not designing beautiful websites, he spends his time songwriting and playing the guitar.