Product Design: Design Concepts



At Speck Design, our engineering and design team work in tandem to create both the industrial design as well as early engineering feasibility. By working as an integrated team, the design can move through the steps at a faster rate than doing things sequentially. Sometimes an interim phase, called Discovery, is needed before we dive into the design. This happens when there are unanswered questions that need to be resolved before the project can be well defined. For the sake of brevity, I am going to include those activities here.

During this phase we establish the technical and design requirements. We will use the information you discovered about your user to help guide us to create a great user experience. You will see as we walk through the process phase-by-phase, we build and move the design forward each step of the way. This phase is the most important one, as it is literally laying the foundation of what we are going to design and build. But we are also taking into consideration your business goals. For example, if what you need is to solely raise funds and you think that can be conveyed with just some rendering, we may only do cursory engineering to make sure our ID team isn’t making an anti-gravity device (those designers can be that way!). On the other hand, if what you need to convey is the technical feasibility of your concept, the ID team may be relegated to helping the engineering team make something a human could actually use. For the sake of this chapter, we are going to assume the goal is to get to a point where the engineering team will prove the feasibility and map out the architecture, while the ID team will create a range of concepts. Please note that (again for the sake of brevity) I am going to limit the scope of activities to core product design. What is not mentioned here is equally important and we will have a concluding chapter about vital aspects to consider that are not included in this chapter.

Phase 2 Activities:

Here is a sample of the types of activities for this phase.

  • Create a preliminary PRD (Product Requirement Document). If you don’t already have one, this will be the roadmap for the product, including technical and user interface requirements.
  • Technical review. What is known, and what are the gaps that need to be filled to complete the project.
  • Product architecture. Again, depending on the goals of the project, this may be a light touch - only enough to inform the industrial design. If the goal is to get to a functional model this is where we start to do the mechanical design.
  • Feasibility study. Can the concept work? This activity may include making quick models to test out different aspects of the design as well as some preliminary engineering.
  • Experience Design. Understanding what the optimal experience of the user should be. This can include ergonomic studies, user interaction design, and design language.
  • Concept Design. Based on the physical architecture, the ID team will create a range of design concepts to present to the client. The first concepts will be more gestural, without all of the details worked out. This gives you the opportunity to identify what you feel speak to your product vision from each concept. The designers will go back and refine 3-5 concepts based on your feedback
  • Develop the overall form direction and physical attributes through sketches, renderings, and simple models (if needed)
  • Create industrial design concepts with sketches to show:
  • Overall form and interaction design
  • User experience
  • Appealing aesthetic design
  • Down select design. The team will choose on design to refine in Phase 3.

Phase 2 Deliverable:

Here is a sample of the types of deliverables for this phase.

  • ID concepts in sketch form
  • PowerPoint presentation and digital files of assets of the design concepts
  • Feasibility report
  • Preliminary PRD

So, what next? Now that you have a good idea that your concept can work, and you have an idea what the product might look like you may want to pause here. You can use this information to get some friends and family funding, and to get more feedback on your product idea. It is much easier to make changes now than later.

What you don’t have yet is a product that is close to completion - what you do have is a concept that you can feel confident about moving forward with.

In the next phase, the industrial design will be finalized and the engineering will move into the implementation phase. This is where the product really starts to become realized. At the end of that phase you will be ready to order some physical prototypes of your product. But that is for the next chapter!

And as always, feel free to send any questions you might have to

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