You’re a self-starter. And you have a product idea that could launch the rest of your career into action. Whether you’re a one-man-band or have a small staff, you’ve discovered your niche and now you want to act on it.
Unfortunately, it’s a whole lot easier said than done. To give you some perspective, a paper on Skill vs. Luck in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital explains that
entrepreneurs of a previously successful business have a 30% chance of success with their next product/business, entrepreneurs who have tried and failed have a 20% chance, and first-timers have an 18% chance. So, not to throw doubt at your vision, but manufacturing and selling your idea to the world is tough when it’s already so clouded by consumerism.
That’s where teaming up with a product design partner comes in. Just because you have the brilliant idea and the business savvy to take it to the top, doesn’t necessarily mean you know (or need to know) the ins and outs of the industrial design process needed to turn that idea into a physical product. Working with a partner or company allows you to sit back and delegate this step because a) they know what they’re doing, b) they’re good at it, and c) they’re just there to help make your vision a reality.
First, What is a Product Design Company?
First thing’s first, you should probably know what a product designer’s role is before you team up with one. Rather than overloading you with information, we’ll try to put it simply. Say your potential product was a building; product designers are the architects. They’re in charge of making sure it meets safety regulations, it’s structurally sound, uses space as practically and efficiently as they can, and has a great aesthetic – one that will attract potential customers.
Essentially, a product designer has expertise in multiple facets of technical design.
When Should You Bring a Product Designer on Board?
If you like the sound of partnering up with an experienced design team, you might ask yourself when the best opportunity to team up is. Here are three situations that could constitute design help:
You’re Brainstorming a New Idea or Product
It’s okay to be in the very beginning stages! You don’t have to have a fancy long-term plan. If you can at least explain your idea coherently, a good design partner should be able to test and validate your idea to determine whether it will not only survive, but thrive in its prospective market.
If someone on your team has sufficient design experience, that will get you through some of the early stages of brainstorming. You’ll be able to start the process – maybe even start prototyping – on your own. If, however, that’s not the case, we suggest making design an early priority for any product or service you’re trying to launch.
And if you’re ever planning on bringing your designs to a manufacturer, you’re going to need an expert-level set of industrial designs. Trust us.
Your Team Doesn’t Have Design Skills
Branching off the last possibility, it’s imperative you get going with design immediately. Product design isn’t just about an appealing aesthetic. It takes a true professional to understand product-market fit, how it will serve the user, to analyze profit vs value, and to ensure its manufacturability. Without this knowledge, a product will not survive. Handing the reins over to your product design partner in these early stages is strategic.
Your Product is Struggling
You don’t only have to work with a product design agency/partner at the start of your vision. You can join forces well into your product’s life. If your product is already on the market but doesn’t have an internal design team to help it break through the noise, there’s more you could be doing. Selling a product will forever face multifaceted challenges. This is where your design partner saves the day.
Product designers are problem solvers. They’re there to answer questions like, “is the product user-friendly?”, “does the product deliver value?”, “is the future path of this product clear?”, etc. These are questions that should be addressed constantly, and if you don’t have someone in house to give constant attention to these issues, your product could tank.
What Makes a Good Design Partner?
Selecting a design partner that is both capable of manufacturing your product, while doing so for a reasonable price, can be difficult. But first and foremost, you want to partner up with someone who has your best interests at heart – someone who will give you control over your destiny.
You should also be looking for a firm/partner with years of design talent and work to show for it, stable manufacturing relationships, a straightforward pricing model (i.e. no surprises), and accountability.
work with someone you trust – someone who is going to take your idea to new heights. Working with a product designer should only make your job easier, giving you more time to work towards the next goal.