Product Design As a Service

Product design is not a new word in the industry. Look around you, every product you see today started with sketches and prototyping. Every product solves a problem or a need. The products are designs being brought to life through sketching, drawing, and in most cases, 3D and industrial design software. Product design is the process of identifying a market opportunity, clearly defining the problem, developing a proper solution for that problem, and validating the solution with real users.

We have two types of product designs. They are :

1. Industrial product design

2. Digital product design

1. Industrial product design is the type that involves the creation of material products. It is more extensive and involves a more complex process because it deals more with physical products that are in direct contact with the users. Industrial design studies functions and forms. It is the connection between the product, user, and environment. Industrial designers are imaginative, have good artistic skills, innovative, able to work well under pressure, and are good communicators who are open to criticism. They are also persuasive at selling their ideas to clients.

2. Digital product design is one that obviously involves the creation of digital products (apps and websites). A digital product designer identifies an existing problem, offers the best possible solution, and launches it to a market that demonstrates the demand for the particular solution.

There are different services involved in product designs. The people involved work hand-in-hand to make problem-solving designs. The services involved in product designs in no particular order include:

1. Design Researching: The first step to product design is brainstorming. Since there is no department like the “brainstorming department”, it is the duty of design researchers to work, plan, weigh the pros and cons closely to achieve results. Design researchers are a valuable link that seeks the intersection of strategic business needs and user needs, values, and goals. Design researchers validate the proposed problem and begin to form solutions.

2. Marketing, Strategizing, and Business analysis: These departments work closely with customers, sales, marketing, and researchers to ensure that a product will be useful for both users and the business. They find the problems that are worth solving. They research to know the presence of competitors, the definition of trends, the assessment of the product’s prospective longevity, etc. Their service helps us understand what we are getting into and how our product can provide solutions.

3. Sketching and prototyping: Sketches helps to somewhat narrow down the very direction when choosing the main concept, and only then work with composition, layouts, edits, refinement of the concept follows. Prototyping on the other hand is the skeleton of an actual product. It gives a detailed visual representation of what to expect. It saves correction in the future, money, time, and nerves.

4. Producing the factory sample: The factory sample helps to understand how the production team should aim for perfection. It enlightens the workers on how visible the ideas are.

5. Production/ development team: This team consists of engineers, scientists, UX/UI designers, and many more. They work closely to ensure they have a full set of technical specifications with clearly defined requirements, tasks, responsibilities, deadlines, and budgets. Their goal is to break the major tasks into smaller subtasks (so that the deadline for their implementation does not exceed several weeks) and assign priorities. In the software industry today, Agile methodologies are employed for this, such as Scrum.

Product design as a service is very broad and it requires multiple hands to achieve desired results. If one is looking at what to offer as a service in product designs, any of these services can be looked into. In essence, product design is an essential service and it has come to stay.

Written by Oluwatosin Omolale

A Layman’s Guide to Understanding Product Design

You come up with an idea, a supposed solution to a particular type of problem people face, and the next step is to bring your idea to life. Who do you need on your team to do this work for you? The person who does this job for you is not the marketer, that just involves pushing your product into the marketplace. The right person for the job is a Product Designer. Product design is an integral part of product development, with the design being a really key step to birthing a product. But sometimes, it feels like people know little about how it works, little about how key it is, and very little about how versatile this field is.

So, let’s break this down into bits and bring you to the world of product design.

Product design is simply the process of creating products that meet the needs of users and that aligns with a brand’s goal. It’s that simple.

Sometimes, the burden is on the product designer to come up with the idea for a viable product and then go on to bring it to life. In doing this, they carry out market research, check out trends in the market, understand the different pros and cons of bringing an idea to life at a point in time. This is because an idea might seem good, just as an idea, but it’s in creating it we find out that it’s not as effective as we thought.

That’s why the research stage might not be enough for the product designer.

Now, in the design stage, it’s not just enough to get to work in creating the idea, you actually have to test it out to see how it works. This is why the terms “prototype” and “sample” was coined. You may have seen certain companies coming up with a product, having it in the market, and suddenly discontinuing the production, certain factors may have triggered the discontinuation but one of such factors may be reduced effectiveness.

Hence, having a solid product designer can be very cost-effective for your business in the long run.

Moving on, product design as a broad field is not limited to just products, that is tangible packages and designs, it can also come as a service we patronize. In fact, that is becoming more and more of the task product designers are faced with; building services that meet the needs of customers. So, because people need to stay in touch with each other, a phone was built to ease communication. But it doesn’t just stop here. Since a large part of growth involves constant tweaking, companies thought of ways to make this communication need as accessible as possible and this is how social media platforms were born.

In other words, service-based companies employ product designers to create services as products that they sell to the market as solutions.

The thing about building services through product design is the detailed approach to it, the integration of different aspects of consumer needs, and the seamless design. So, you can be sure that skills like consumer research, UI/UX design, and all sorts will be required. That’s the beauty of product design and that brings me to the final point.

Remember when I mentioned the versatility of the product design field, well this is as true as ever in today’s world. Product design has moved from just idea formation and product design to involving a whole lot of consumer psychology. More so, with the level of technology on the ground, it’s definitely going to greater heights.

Recently, a documentary was made by Netflix on social media and its impact on human beings. Notice how the documentary highlighted the high level of consumer psychology at play, how each feature is geared towards increased attention on a platform, and how this is in turn affects our relationship with others. This just goes to show how the best products (including services) are the ones that solve our problems while touching at a primary emotion in us. These are human-friendly products and that’s one thing about the design field, the way it’s interconnected with different aspects in ways that we don’t even notice but enjoy.

So, when next you come across the word product design, understand that:

  • It starts from the research process; this is to create the perfect solution in form of products for the users
  • Product design is not limited to tangible products only i.e. things we can feel and touch. It can come in the form of services that we enjoy.
  • It is a flexible field that utilizes different skills in a bid to meet the users at the exact point of their needs.

Do share your thoughts and questions about product design in the comment section.

Written by Blessing Onyegbula