Product Design Ideas: An Effective Guide

Good product design is not just about creating eye-catching visuals. It should also serve the purpose of helping companies stand out in the crowd. The product design process is centralized on understanding the end user’s need and carving a product that satisfies this need. Product design ideas are most effective when they align with the needs of the target audience.

This guide briefly covers product design ideas and provides strategies that’ll enable you to generate your unique ones.

What is Product Design?

Product design implies improving product quality, usefulness, and usability–often by applying aesthetics, functional, or environmental analysis–to increase customer satisfaction.

The process involves making a concept or idea tangible by translating it into a physical product. The product may be an actual object or the representation of an image using some visual medium or technology. It takes creativity, research, knowledge of and interaction with production materials and technologies.

Product design is considered the core of a tangible product’s overall planning and production. It includes the drawing, grouping, coordinating, and sequencing of functional and business solutions to the design considerations of a product or a service. It also consists of the criteria for the differentiation of a product against the competition.

Tips for Coming up with Product Design Ideas

Designing a successful product requires more than just making something that looks pretty. The key is to know who your targeted audience is, their problems, and how your product will be helpful to them. The ideation process of product design is about finding a balance between unique ideas and relevant product positioning.

These tips will help you come up with compelling design ideas.

  • Brainstorm: To start, you’ll want to brainstorm ideas you can use to design a product that could help your target audience. You can also leverage your team’s creativity to produce these ideas. Your brainstorming sessions should be focused on one problem statement and goal at a time.
  • Use mind maps: Structure your thoughts using mind maps and draw concrete ideas from them. Begin with one main idea, then build links between other ideas to incorporate them into a unique product.
  • Find out what your customers want: Use survey and feedback tools to determine what your users want. The result will help you improve your product design to meet their needs.

Product Design Ideas

Great product designs solve user problems practically and conveniently, making it easy for users to achieve their goals.

Some design ideas include:

1. Voice of Customer (VoC)-led ideas

VoC is a marketing research technique that help companies create designs that best meet customer desires. Companies can develop the most innovative and cutting-edge products by listening carefully to customers and understanding their thoughts, reactions, and preferences.

This method uses product design tools like surveys, interviews, and customer calls to understand user concerns and challenges.

2. Put yourself in the users’ shoes

A better way to understand users’ problems is to be in the user’s shoes and experience the issues firsthand.While research provides you access to third-party data, experience makes you see things for yourself. The information you gather will help you generate problem-solving ideas.

3. Build and test creative hypotheses 

Use insights gathered from interviews and experience insight tools to discover exactly what is missing. Develop creative hypotheses for a possible solution, test the prototypes and review their impact on your business before launching it full scale.

4. Leverage cutting-edge technology

Leverage new technology and use the internet to lower operating costs and drive innovation and breakthroughs in product design. Machine-learning and virtual reality tools can help you develop new ideas, test them quickly with small groups, iterate and improve.

5. Create storyboards of user journeys 

Storyboards play a significant role in design thinking. They are great tools for generating product ideas by mapping out the user journey and tailoring the product to find a solution.

6. Refine ideas using immersive prototyping

Most products don’t target one set of customers: you’re likely targeting different groups. You’ll have to try out different designs to see which ones will satisfy all your audiences. Use different scenarios to identify what users want, what they’re struggling with, and what product design ideas will make their problems disappear.

5 Real-Life Product Design Ideas

1. Verizon used VoC data to find product solutions 

Verizon, an American wireless network operator, used social media, telephone surveys, online chats, and store visit concerns to empathize with their customers’ problems.

Once they knew the problem, it was time to ideate. The team brainstormed for solutions, tried out ideas with customers, and made a decision. They decided what was better was to adjust the product so that customers could keep their original phone numbers. They got a lot of customers signing up for the network because of this design tweak.

2. Good Kitchen walked in their users’ shoes

Denmark had 125,000 elderly citizens in 2007 and needed a seamless meal delivery service. Hatch and Bloom interviewed and tested prototypes with consumers and chefs in real-time so that they could understand their concerns. They created scenarios for both audiences to learn how they experienced the service.

The team devised several ideas based on user needs for a more dignified service system with more food options. Validating and testing came once they had concrete product ideas. They introduced a chain of comment cards that helped with back and forth communication between chefs, delivery staff, and consumers.

The result was a better meal option for elderly users with better service, but it also gave the chefs and other employees more flexibility.

3. Airbnb built and tested creative hypotheses

For Airbnb, this approach to product design allowed them to find unique opportunities for innovation. The company sorted the services of a new designer and tasked him with suggesting new features. The designer re-evaluated the ‘star’ shaped button on the website, which allowed users to add their shortlisted properties to the favorites list.

Combining user data with creative thinking, he changed the star to a heart, tested and shipped the idea. From this change, Airbnb gained a 30% increase in engagement.

4. ASOS leveraged Augmented Reality to design innovative solutions

The online fashion retailer realized that consumers weren’t sure how the clothes they saw online would look once delivered. This made they skeptical about buying.

To solve this problem, ASOS used Augmented Reality (AR) to provide a better shopping experience to its customers. They created the ‘Virtual Catwalk’ feature to help customers make purchase decisions. This feature allows customers to see the products they want on a model as if it was in front of them. ASOS also created new ideas to help customers shop with their voice alone. This included an AI-driven fit assistant that helps customers find the right size.

5. Spotify used user journey storyboards to design a solution

With this tactic, Spotify created its infamous ‘share’ button that lets users share playlists, songs, and artist albums on social media and with friends.

They used user persona and user flows to understand what motivates people to click the share button. They created storyboards to validate the user flow, showing how a user would share music with a friend who doesn’t use Spotify. The process involved wireframes, prototyping, testing, and then publishing it live.

Story boarding helped Spotify visualize the user journey and validate their ideas for the ‘share’ feature.

man wearing black shirt and headset, drawing on white paper
Product Design Ideas

To Wrap Up

Product design ideas are meant to be creative. If you’re serious about impacting your industry, you should combine customers’ needs, technical knowledge, and experience with your creative skills.

Experimentation is the key to product design ideas, so don’t be afraid to try new ideas, enter uncharted territory, and be open to possibilities.

Product Design Ideas: An Effective Guide

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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