What are the benefits of a well designed product?
Functionality & Usability
Have you ever used a product where you thought to yourself why did they do it like that? Or if only they had done this or that it would be so much easier to use?
Whilst most products perform their intended function, not all do it in an intuitive way. Most companies focus on the technical requirements of the product, but the end user can sometimes be missed. A product that does what it’s meant to do is expected, but a product that does it in an intuitive way helps build customer confidence and satisfaction. The experience of using a product influences that customers’ perception of the brand.
Imagine two competing companies selling washing machines. Both machines perform an excellent job of washing clothes and specification wise are equal. However, one machine is hard to understand whilst the other is very intuitive. Customer reviews and satisfaction will be much better for the intuitive model and subsequently its brand.
To make sure a product performs well and is loved by your customers, empathising with the end user is essential. Questions like where is the product used, who is using it, and what’s their background should be considered. Everyone is different and the human body can vary a lot in size and shape. Take hands, for example, there can be quite a large difference between someone who has larger hands compared to someone with smaller ones. If your product is hand-held does it work for both sizes? Understanding the target demographic is a vital step to a well functioning product. Journey mapping can help run through the user’s experience to make it as intuitive as possible and nothing is missed.
74% of consumers say they’re loyal to a brand due to its product quality.
Brand Perception & Desirability
Let’s look at a scenario most people have been in at some point even if they don’t realise it. You’re buying a product and can’t decide which one to go for. Both function the same and cost the same but one looks better or looks like it will function better than the other. Most people will subconsciously choose the one that looks better if there are no other influencing factors.
A product that looks good or looks capable of performing well can have a large influence on purchase decisions even in a non consumer setting. Consider a piece of industrial equipment that needs to be used in a rugged environment. Taking again the example of two competing products. One has an aesthetic that looks rugged whereas the other has elements that look like they wouldn’t survive long in the usage conditions. Both products might function perfectly, the one that looks like it doesn’t may even be better than the rugged looking one. The problem is that the one that is perceived as being more rugged is likely to sell more. The same is true for products that perform very specific functions where aesthetics is not considered important. When all things are equal the better product aesthetically has a higher perceived value, quality, and professionalism. This then also translates into brand perception.
Understanding your company, brand values and end users can help create a product that visually fulfills those values. What type of company you are can be portrayed through the controlled use of certain aesthetics. Things like proportion and form language all add up to subconsciously reassure the user that the product and brand are well suited to their task. A product that looks good can also outlast other products that become visually dated quicker.
If not ourselves we all know someone who has paid more for a product because of its brand. Well known and respected brand names generally come with a higher price tag and not just in the consumer world. In some cases, some of the products from less know brands may even be better than the well known one. Even if so, people generally go with the brand they know and respect.
There are a lot of things that affect profitability but we’ll talk about two that are influenced by design here. The first is the perceived value of the product. By perceived value, we don’t mean trying to pretend the product is more valuable than it is, but instead the value to the customer. Looking back at the first and second sections of this article. If when empathising with the user an idea is generated that saves the customer half the time their perceived value of the product will go up. This could be through a new way of doing things, a change in the interface, or a reduction in complexity. Understanding the user helps provide the best value to them and subsequently to the company empathising with them.
Design also heavily influences the manufacturing cost of a product. This can be through the design of each component and also the ease of assembly. An important factor that affects cost is the quantities made. Generally, the more you make the cheaper it becomes. Many companies that make lower to medium volumes struggle with this. Lower quantities mean that certain manufacturing methods aren’t economically viable. There are however many different manufacturing methods out there, some better known than others. An essential step is to evaluate what methods are suitable for the quantities being made and design appropriately. Other things like making sure all components are optimised and any unnecessary complexity is removed will all help reduce costs. Reducing the number of fixings and also making sizes common will reduce the number of different stock items and also save time and cost in the assembly process.
A well design product should score highly in all these areas. This will not only help profitability but also create a product that customers love using and increase brand loyalty.
If you’re not sure how to achieve some of these then here are some questions to consider to get you on the right track:
- How easy is your product to use by someone without prior knowledge?
- Can it be made simpler to use?
- What range of people are using your product and does it work well for all of them?
- Have we checked the ergonomic data for the range of people using the product?
- What do your aesthetics tell your customers about your product and brand?
- How are you perceived in comparison to your competitors?
- Is the product easy to assemble?
- What would increase the value of the product?
If you found this article interesting and would like to discuss how we could help you in these areas please get in touch.