Good design requires substantial information that the designer can analyze and make sense of.
A product that sells is one that is well-designed for its users, such that every surface and feature provides the user a positive experience of the product. This can only be achieved if the industrial designer is armed with enough relevant knowledge about the product, its target market and the process involved in the product’s development. During the project briefing, I always ask and listen intently to my clients as they answer series of questions that I throw at them, aiming to understand who I’m working with, what their intentions are for the product in focus, its purpose and the type of customers they would sell it to. I also share my thoughts on the matter whenever necessary, providing some idea of how the design process should progress. It is only when we all get full understanding of the task at hand, that appropriate and functional product concepts and designs can be conceived. If you are a client, always be ready with substantial amount of relevant information before engaging with a designer — good information is key 😉
What’s more important than how a product looks, is how the user will interact with it and how the product will make an impact on them. If I get bad or incomplete information from the client, there’s a good chance that the design outputs won’t meet expectations, because of poor understanding of what needs to be achieved. In order get the design right, I go beyond what clients would tell me — I do my own research. Whether it be through online browsing, book reading or physical interaction with potential users and buyers, I would always try to dig as much information as I can about the market. A client’s perspective and knowledge are great for getting direction, but only substantial knowledge and direct interaction and experience with the users will reveal uniqueness in design.
As I gather and analyze information, I progress the design process with ideation drawings, which are merely rough sketches of ideas that come into mind as I process data in my head. People may see these illustrations as nice, ugly or incomplete, but in the eyes and mind of an industrial designer, each line has purpose and each dot has reason for being there. A story is formed every time a line meets another and as life is brought about by color, the story becomes one variation of the product. So if I want to create the best product design for the intended purpose, I vary the story and create more design iterations until I come up with a few presentable ones from which the client can choose.
I treat my clients more like partners, rather than employers. This means that whenever I show them design options, I share with them my thoughts on each design and how it can impact their business goals and objectives. I empathize with how they would want their business to grow and we would sometimes debate and discuss how to further improve design ideas. We talk and hear one another, brainstorm a bit and often merge ideas together. It’s actually a fun process, especially when everybody’s open to new thoughts and challenges.
The process of designing a product entails more than just drawing lines and shapes, making the product look sexy or appealing at the very least. It requires diligence and eagerness to gain knowledge and deep understanding of what needs to be done. Good design requires substantial information that the designer can analyze and make sense of. Knowledge will always fuel skill.