Product Development: How Important is Industrial Design?

Designers are always trying to captivate their audiences by wowing them by the curves, feel, and overall look of their product. The key that separates the best from the unemployed is this: emotional connection to the end user. The find innovative ways for the customer to interact with and use the product. In short, they understand what they want.

If they are able to do this well, they will see and reap the rewards later on. The problem that many businesses have, even large ones, is that they wait til the end of the product cycle to schedule and carry out the industrial design that will  actually sell in a competitive marketplace. In fact, the consumer market has never been with more potential, or competition for that matter. Global markets have been shifting and positioning for decades to be able to bring products and services to those who are ready to fork over the cash.

Oftentimes, those who are responsible for creating the ergonomic and sleek designs that we crave aren’t even working for the company that manufactures and sells the end product. This is actually a good thing, as long as there is plenty of competition to keep output and quality high. While this may be a controversial position, those who are professionally trained and accredited are more likely to understand what they market wants, as well as being able to create a product or prototype with the expertise needed. This is as it should be.

There are drawbacks, however, to outsourcing design to those who aren’t living where the product will be sold. Professionalism and experience aside, the global market encapsulates many different cultures, body sizes and shapes, customs, and age ranges that need to be accounted for. The only way to take these things into real consideration is careful planning, consulting, and a clear understanding of their target audience and demographic. There have been epic disaster when these aspects are disregarded. For example, can you imagine Ford attempting to sell millions of F-350 Diesel Trucks in Germany? Needless to say, their understanding of local culture and driving conditions would be a horrible product placement idea.

The stakes have never been higher for industrial design firms to deliver the right product to the market without botching anything in the process. The repercussions would be severe if the public decided not to purchase the product solely based on design. In fact, this would lead to downward spiral where bad press drive potential partners away, leading to downsizing and other business hardships. The best way to avoid these situations is to understand with 100% clarity what is expected and how it will be potentially received by the end user. Their experience is the most important part of the process, one that you don’t get to see until after months or years of work. Best to get it right the first time rather than finding out later that there were preventable mistakes that were made during the initial process.