When is a product design ready to be shipped? Does it have to be perfect or simply good enough? What do those terms even mean, anyway? Questions like these seem simple but they’re something all product design agenciesstruggle with. And the most annoying thing for a product agencyis that even people well outside the industry can usually spot design issues or mistakes.
We’ve all done this at one point or another – noticing a product design flaw that’s so absurdly obvious that we can’t understand how it happened. Yet, designers all around the world realize just how easy it is to overcomplicate a design to a fault or to rush an unfinished design out because of deadlines.
So, how do we find the middle ground? Is there a golden rule that product design agenciescan follow to make sure their designs are always perfect?
Well, no every product is different. However, a product’s design can be likened to balancing on a rope you have to keep several factors in mind and make sure that focusing on one doesn’t compromise the others. How we define these factors varies but most experts agree on the following five:
Every product is meant to perform a certain function. Many products have lots of functions. Obviously, you need to make sure that your product serves its function while also not making your product “too functional”.
Many designers work with the mindset that adding extra functionality to a product is never a bad thing. However, going too overboard with this can lead to a bad design. Not every product has to be a Swiss army knife, and adding too many functionalities can often turn your product into something different than what was asked for.
After you’ve given your product its substance, it’s time to add some style. And while the two aren’t mutually exclusive, it’s quite common for them to be at odds. If we go back to the rope-balancing analogy, leaning too much into style or too much into functionality is like leaning too much to the left or to the right while on the rope – you need both aspects to be balanced.
Something very easy for a product agency to forget is that the product should be easy to ship. The reason most designers forget this is that they are too detached from the logistics process. So, just as you should balance between style and functionality, you should also factor shipping into your design. And yes, that applies to software as well. Ask yourself: How heavy is your software? How fast does it run? What does it run on? and so on. Keep these questions in mind while you perfect your balance.
Many great products have problems taking off because learning to use them is too difficult for most people. One of the most frustrating designing tasks is trying to create a product that serves a complex function but that’s also easy for most people to learn. Despite this frustration, it’s another balancing act that’s essential for good product design.
5. Ease of use.
Similar but unrelated to the complexity of a product is how easy it is to use once you’ve learned the ins and outs. Many product designs are full of unnecessary steps that can be annoying to go through even once the customer has learned everything about the product.