5 major industrial design pain points

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Creating a successful product is always more than just a matter of implementing features. At no time more than today is it crucial to deliver product functionality in an ergonomic way and maintain a feature set of clear value to businesses and end users, while being aesthetically pleasing.

The user experience of a product, physical or digital, will determine how well a user will receive it and whether they will recommend it to others. The charter of the industrial designer is to smooth the interface between the user and the device to produce a desirable meaningful interaction. Their job has never been harder than it is today, as best-in-class products have set the bar high for user expectations.

Here are the top five challenges faced by industrial designers today:

1. Communicate the value of product design.

It is important that everyone involved in making product decisions understands the value of an optimized design. This includes those who fill various functional roles within the company as well as outsiders, such as those who make purchasing decisions, product support, as well as end users.

It’s not always easy to quantify or communicate the value of a well-designed product. In many cases, end users cannot even always explain why they choose one product or brand over another. In many cases, when products offer a similar set of features, the well-designed one is the one that will entice the user to make the purchase.

Think of cell phones. You can do pretty much everything the latest iPhone does with a similar-generation Android device. In some cases, the Android phone may even have unique differentiating features. By applying superior hardware and software user experience design, Apple has created a brand that not only achieves top-selling products, but does so at a premium price.

2. Reconcile conflicting demands.

Designers are challenged to balance various needs in creating a superior product. Product cost and size are obvious constraints. It is less straightforward to assess the user and the usage environment to understand what features or aspects of a design will bring value to the customer.

Although the need of the user is the determining factor in a good design, it must be balanced against the frequent need to negotiate characteristics such as heat, volume, weight, battery capacity, etc. . Finally, the challenges related to product development time and budgets cannot be ignored. Given unlimited time and budget, there are always ways to analyze, iterate, and improve. But, of course, time and budget constraints are always there. Great design occurs when user needs are met using new approaches to delivering the user experience while meeting physical demands.

3. Respect the initial design process.

From a technical perspective, upstream design work does not necessarily produce direct product progression. Nonetheless, researching and exploring the proposed design is key to understanding the diverse needs and desires of users.

Good initial design work enhances understanding of current and anticipated product markets in terms of direct competition and products in adjacent markets that drive market trends and aesthetics. The goal here is to generate or adjust requirements so that they are closely related to user needs.

4. Make sure to create the first prototypes.

The design begins with a study of user needs based on early assumptions, marketing information and requirements based on user needs. When design work begins, whether it’s a digital or physical product, it’s critical that the design stays aligned with the user. Using physical and digital models to evaluate design components, subsystems, or entire assemblies is important for verifying function and usability along the way.

Early prototypes allow designers to test hypotheses, and engineers can often rely on mathematical models to drive functional development. Similarly, designers use physical models or software prototypes and wireframes to “see and touch” design alternatives.

Depending on the qualities assessed, different approaches can be adopted to measure the qualitative feedback of a prototype. The use of tools such as Figma, Webflow, eye tracking, cognitive procedure, VR environments and others allow these qualitative characteristics to be assessed.

5. The need to master several design tools.

As with most engineering disciplines, designers have a host of tools they must master to create a world-class design. A variety of tools unique to designers are used to create geometry, render digital models, create interactive clickable prototypes and workflows, and more. These days, they often use VR tools and headsets to immerse the product in virtual environments to evaluate the design.

For software design, a host of tools are used to model and prototype software that assess both aesthetics and application flow. Examples of these tools include Adobe Suite, Figma, Sketch, Miro, Invision, Lottie, Marvel, Webflow, Zeplin, and Principle. No one can have deep expertise in all of these tools, but today’s designers are challenged to establish proficiency in more tools than ever before.

In a competitive landscape, design is often the main differentiator between a company’s products and those of its competitors. Designers must navigate between conflicting constituencies to find balance in creating products that are engaging, engaging, and meaningful to the user. All of this must be accomplished within the project and product constraints of product development and cost, as well as schedule. The key to success is a multidisciplinary team that sees user-centered design as a North Star.

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