So how do you design a product that stands a chance at being successful? It’s all about achieving a balance between three vital things; style, functionality and pertinence. The key to good design, regardless of what the object actually is, is combining these three elements. Creating a product at the right time, that looks great whilst doing what it was made to do is seen by most companies as the Holy Grail.
We live in a very style conscious age. People will pay well above the odds for something that looks better than the competition. We are also in a time of austerity which has acted as a driving force behind a move toward utility, functionality (see below), and simplicity in product design. The style of the product you are designing is also dependent on the target market. Males in their early twenties like different things to women in their sixties.
Genius design, therefore, can be defined as a product that bridges all gaps – age, gender, taste, wealth – and appeals to everyone. One recent example of this would be Apples iPad. Its huge success is down to the fact that everyone wants one and almost everyone can obtain one. They are loved by everyone from children to pensioners.
Functionality should underpin every stage of the product design process. What a product does is more important than anything because if it doesn’t perform, it becomes obsolete. Some of the most successful companies in the world manage to achieve great functionality with brilliant aesthetics. Bang & Olufsen are the perfect example of an organisation that has found this balance.
The most functional products don’t need to rely on style as success is achieved through performance. Tools are often great examples of this. The Stanley knife, for example, does exactly what the user asks of it, which is why it has stayed the same for decades. Un-functional designs will never stand the test of time.
As touched upon in the intro; timing is crucial to the success of a new product. When designing think about what the market wants at this very moment. Popular styles, themes and trends should be tracked to determine exactly what consumers are looking for. This doesn’t always mean designing something cutting edge and completely revolutionary – some of the best new designs draw upon the past. Taking an existing idea and developing it can be as lucrative as designing a game changer. Pertinence will have a massive impact on both style and functionality.
Again the iPad is a prime example of a product being designed and realised at exactly the right time. The market was crying out for the product but it was unclear as to how it should look and how it should work.
If you consider these three factors when developing a product you have as good a chance at success as any other.