Our days are defined by a series of interactions with objects – from the moment we wake up and hit the snooze button on the alarm clock to the moment we flick off the light and say good night. Each day we interact with a countless number of products that were all designed with a purpose at some point in time. In some ways, these objects define our existence, as without them we would not be able to do what we do best.
Each product, service or process ever created was designed to theoretically enhance a group of people’s lives in some way or another. But how many of them actually do?
The simple truth is that countless numbers of products miss their target completely and end up flopping. While there are numerous factors that could potentially derail a product from becoming successful, in many cases it comes down to design.
When people engage and interact with a product, what they are really doing is immersing themselves in an experience. Though often times we think people buy products for the bells and whistles, the underlying reason behind their purchase is actually for the core benefits they derive from the experience.
Let’s say that a product can be designed in two potential ways:
- As a complex, feature-laden product that addressed all of the possible needs of a broad market;
- Or as a simple, easy-to-use product where the benefits to a smaller group of people were immediately visible.
In this scenario, the simple product will win again and again.
A great example to look at is software. Many of the software products that we use on a day-to-day basis are simple, clean, intuitive and as easy-to-use as possible given their functionality (I know there are a lot that are not like this as well). Think about applications like Skype , Firefox and Dropbox. They all provide a lot of value without sacrificing simplicity. What we don’t see, however, is the countless number of applications or software products that have not made it because people didn’t buy them. Each of the software examples above were not the first products to come out in their respective product classes, but they were the first to provide outstanding utility to users by making it easy to derive benefits from using the product.
So how can a company nail its product design?
There are a number of world-class design consultancies that are often worth their weight in gold. But even before taking that step, a company should try to understand its market. This does not mean conducting extensive market research to try and find what people want. Instead, a company should try to discover the benefits from the products already being offered, and how its product can add more value to the user experience. This is something we do here at Lumos.
With this insight, companies can begin designing a product that matches the needs of the market. Simplified, thoughtful, well-designed products have the ability to break open new markets, make the competition obsolete and produce margins that bolster a company’s bottom-line. The value of well-designed products that maximize user experience is felt by everyone throughout the whole product pipeline – from the designer all the way down to the end user – and that’s the power of design.
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