We are living a renaissance of the smart physical products. Objects become more and more connected and we see them everywhere; in our homes, on our way to work, at the airport, in the supermarket and so on… The 3D printing revolution and the easy internet access to practically everything made it quite easy to make something, and it seems like everybody is “doing it”.
People who used to write code are soldering circuits and BT modules, cutting boards and wiring accelerometers, just like Steve and Steve were doing back in the 70s. It’s fun, it’s very different from writing Java and the market is thirsty for more of this “IoT mania”. Now all you need is an industrial designer to put some skin around your boards, and you’re on best buy’s top ten.
Well…no. it’s not that simple, and here are 5 things you have to know before you hire design team for your project.
1. Design is actually
People often misplace design with styling and form-giving; “Just make it look beautiful, everything else is in place”. Well – that’ a big no-no as a design process usually starts with everything but styling. Before giving form to an object you have to understand perfectly its usage scenario, know your users segmentation, understand the product strategy, dive into the technical limitations, standardization requirements etc. This is not as sexy as drawing beautiful lines and forms but the real value and innovation actually lies here.
2. Your assumptions will be challenged.
One of the first things every entrepreneur does while thinking about a new product is making assumptions. Those assumptions often become axioms that are rarely questioned as the projects moves forward. Designers tend to question everything and giving them the space to do so might open your mind to insights that haven’t been discussed yet. You will recognize a good design team because they will go back to the inception of the project and will question every tiny detail and decision that has been made ever since. If you don’t have good answers well….that probably because you might want to do some more research.
3. Get your hands dirty
Make your product work. It can look like something that’s been made by a 5 year old – it really doesn’t matter at this phase – but it has to work. When you bring something to life your confidence in your product is much higher and you’re categorized as a doer instead of just being a dreamer. It’s much easier to take what you’ve made and make it look like the product you’ve seen in your dreams than the opposite.
4. Be patient
Forget about the “wham, bam, thank you mam” way of work. Physical product design doesn’t work this way. It doesn’t mean that designers cannot work with deadlines but it does mean that things have to be examined, thought through, digested, questioned, referenced, etc… Good design is about iterations, about being wrong, and about learning through the process. You can’t do it in two weeks no matter how hard you’ll try.
5. Make decisions and prioritize
Designers often fall in love with the process and will always offer more than one solution for any problem you’ll bring to the table. Your job is to decide and to focus your design team to the right direction. Prioritization is also a very important part of it as many designers are “detail maniacs” and sometimes this mania can cause unnecessary setbacks.
Design meaning, not form
Hiring a good design team is essential to the success of your product but you have to be prepared to what design actually is. And no, it’s not (only) form. Design is about innovation, about experience and eventually about making your product mean something to millions of people. And that’s something you might want.