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Designing A Product: The 8 Key Ingredients

Looking to design your very own product to sell? There are lots of factors to consider when designing a product. Here are 10 of the key ingredients to consider during the design process to help you come up with the best product possible.

Designing A Product

Function

Unless you’re creating an art piece, there needs to be a clear function to your product. Even a mantlepiece ornament needs to possess the basic function to stand up without falling over.

Products such as gadgets are likely to have much more complicated functions and may require hiring the help of an engineer. Many products have multiple functions although you may want to prioritize certain functions over others (for instance a sofa-bed’s function as a piece of furniture for sitting on is likely to be more important than its function as a bed). Plan to have a testing phase in which you can test each product’s function thoroughly to ensure that the product works.

Cost-effectiveness

Your product also needs to be cost-effective. If it costs a lot of money to manufacture, it could mean having to charge high prices in order to make any profit – and if the prices don’t reflect the quality, you could find that few consumers make a purchase.

By mapping out all the possible costs involved, you can start looking for ways to cut costs without affecting the overall quality of the product. This could include sourcing cheaper materials, removing unnecessary features or looking into cheap methods of manufacture.

Durability

Your product also needs to be durable – if it breaks easily, you’ll get lots of angry customers wanting their money back. Durability may not be as much of a concern if you’re selling your product very cheap, but you should still make sure that your product meets a basic level of robustness.  

The shape and materials can greatly affect the durability of a product. It could be worth looking into likely forms of damage such as the product dropping or getting wet. A product testing phase could be an opportunity of finding ways to break your product so that you can then aim to fix these weaknesses.

Sustainability

It’s the responsibility of today’s businesses to ensure that all their products cause as little environmental harm as possible. An environmentally-unfriendly product could put off certain consumers and may even be banned from manufacture if it doesn’t meet certain criteria.

There are several ways in which a product can be made more sustainable. The first way is to use only sustainable materials – if you’re using plastic, you should be certain that it’s easily recyclable. As for electronic products, you may want to look into ways to reduce energy usage in order to help reduce the carbon footprint of consumers. No use of animal products could also be important in certain products.

Aesthetics

‘Aesthetics’ is a fancy term for how a product looks. The appearance of a product can have a big impact on its appeal – if it doesn’t stand out on the shelf, people won’t buy it.

Think about ways in which you can improve aesthetics without having too much of an impact on other key ingredients. Color is a popular way to make a product more visually exciting without having to impact other features – there are colorants available for all forms of products including soap colorants and food colorants. A quality finish may also be able to affect aesthetics while also offering other benefits such as added durability. Aesthetic changes to be wary of could involve using unusual shapes – some of which may affect function and ergonomics.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the way in which a product fits the human body. It can help to make a product easier and more comfortable to use. For instance, if you’re designing a bicycle, you want to be certain that the seat is in the right place for easy riding and that the handlebars are comfortable to grip.

There are special cases of ergonomics that may be worth looking into depending on your target market. For instance, if disabled customers are likely to use your product, you may want to consider features to ensure that they are just as capable of using your product as able-bodied customers. Ergonomics can even apply to the size and readability of text used on packaging.

Health & Safety

You do not want your product to make others sick or injured. For this reason, you should look carefully into health and safety features that may be necessary to add to your product. This could include no sharp edges, non-toxic finishes, and non-flammable materials.

Health and safety features can vary from product to product and you may want to seek help from a product health and safety advisor.

Branding

Your brand identity needs to be represented in your product. A unique shape or color could be integral to this. Alternatively, you may be able to simply use packaging to offer branding such as a logo and colors.

A memorable brand can help to make a product more popular so think carefully about what features you can add to make your product more distinctive. Research into other products to avoid ripping ideas off of existing products (you could even find that there are patents and trademarks in place).  

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