How to Build a Beautiful Prototype

It is easy to get stuck in the “functions and features” mindset when building the first round of prototypes, but it is essential not to overlook the value of exceptional design for curb appeal.

A impressive prototype can help instill confidence in a development team garner much needed media attention and allow potential customers the ability to gain an early interest in the product and brand which may have the bonus of pre-sales and fund raising.

A remarkable design does not need to stall the product development process while undergoing prototyping, but fundamental characteristics of the end design should be taken into consideration if elements of the fit and form can be leveraged to reflect innovation and a competitive advantage in the market place.

Entrepreneurs, startups and businesses can effectively incorporate industrial design standards by maintaining solid documentation such as a product requirements document from the date of inception.

To avoid any miscommunication among stake holders, product documentation should have a change log or revision history that is easy to identify at a glance.

Poor design is often the result of poor communication. Assigning a project manager to oversee documentation, track progress and prioritize tasks such as industrial design from day one can minimize the risks associated with a communication breakdown.

In addition to thorough documentation, bringing in an industrial designer(s) early into the process is key to setting expectations that industrial design is a priority in the project. It will be helpful if the designer has  knowledge of designing for manufacturability and working with engineering specifications.

When building a product for the consumer market place, thought leading designs can be defined by their ability to convey straightforward solutions to difficult or annoying problems through the use of familiar fit, form, and function. A great design will incorporate current trends in industrial design while setting a new benchmark for ease of use and value.

The overall design, look and feel of a product does not and should not fall on the shoulders of one individual such as the industrial designer, but rather should be a collaborative effort of the entire team. This is not to suggest the “design by committee” approach, but instead, honest feedback from the entire team as the product evolves.

Innovative and forward thinking industrial design is key to a products success. However, it is important to be mindful of the market place and not getting too far ahead of the average consumer’s comfort level. An attractive design will incorporate familiar fit, form, and function, but not push the intended consumer to undergo a fundamental change in behavior to use a product.

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