10 product design tips for
everyone developing a product

1. Think of users first

Ask users how they’d prefer to work. Then think about how your product can help. Without immediately thinking about how that would technically work. That will come later on in the product design process.

Companies often work the other way around. They first look at how all technical components fit together easily. Once that technical layout is fixed, it tends to be difficult to change it for usability reasons. So, think of the users first.

Product design tips - design for all

2. Design for first-timers ánd expert users

Many products are used by beginners and expert users. Therefore, give extra hints to new users. While also adding shortcuts for pro users. Those two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Designers often work with personas to map the different user groups. This allows us to tailor the design to the widest possible target group. Your product’s users will be thankful for it.

Design tips - product design is not styling

3. Product design is more than styling

Do not consider design as a “magic sauce” that can be used to improve the looks long after product functionality and engineering are established. Alternatively, it often doesn’t work to define the styling of a product without knowing how it will work.

It usually works better to approach design, functionality and technology holistically. In other words: product design is about the whole dish, not just the sauce.

4. See a product in a larger context

Look at the product system, not just the product. What is the customer journey or patient journey that the user experiences? The services of your company also influence the user’s perception. Ensure that your hardware, software and services work together seamlessly.

Product design tips - Quick user testing

5. Do a quick, small-scale user test

Often, just a few test users bring out most of the flaws in a design. So just find these users, and test. No amount of imagination can outweigh an actual user test. Please note that we’re talking about functional aspects of a design here, as taste preferences are often more difficult to test with a small group.

6. Focus on a market segment, not one customer

It can be tempting to design a product that is completely tailored to the requirements of one customer, or one tender.

Nevertheless, it’s good to speak to several customers in the design process. And to think through multiple use scenarios. Through that, you have a better view of the entire market, which enables you to make your product more widely applicable.

7. Become more creative through limitations

People become more creative when there are limitations. So limit budget, time and functionality. That’s when you focus. And your designers are stimulated to come up with creative solutions.

Mind you, it’s about the right balance. Too small budgets, too tight deadlines and too many requirements can kill creativity.

8. Work towards simplicity and elegance

It is not easy to develop a simple product. It takes time and effort. It’s a matter of striking the right balance: no need to add any functionality and nothing can be left out either. At that moment you have found the core of what is needed: ultimate simplicity and elegance. Then you know exactly what you are offering your customers. And what distinguishes you from competitors.

9. Let designers and engineers work together

Let engineers regularly think along when designers are working on a concept. And vice versa: keep designers in the loop when engineers further develop the concept. Even better, add more disciplines to the table, such as marketing and production. In that way, all-round decisions are made. And everyone understands why certain choices are made. Your product will benefit from it.

10. Pay attention to the details

Sometimes the difference between two competitors is only in the details. “The details are not the details, they make the design,” famous designer Charles Eames once said. In other words: well thought-out details make the difference.

These are the design tips that you can apply during new product development. If you’re new to this way of thinking, or find it difficult to put into practice, we’re happy to help. Therefore one more tip:

Bonus tip: Seek professional help

Studio Rotor knows its way around product design. It’s in our DNA to develop good-looking, functional and innovative products. Our experience ensures that we automatically design with all of the above tips in mind. We’re happy to help you.