As a startup, brand or manufacturer developing a new physical product, you are probably already familiar with the importance of industrial design services in the success of your product. With industrial design being such an impactful part of development, it is important to know some key considerations before hiring a product design firm or studio to design your company’s new products and find the right design firm.
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1) Does the product design firm have experience in your industry?
If you are able to find a product design company that works in the same product category or industry as your product, that is a plus point. This is especially important for highly regulated industries like medical devices. Specialist firms have a knowledge base and a network they can leverage to design and develop your product.
It is important to ask about any past projects done by the design firm to understand if they have done any products in the same industry as yours. For example, if you are working on a smart wearable device, it is preferable to work with an industrial design studio that has experience in consumer electronics industry rather than a design studio that works only on soft-goods. Though it is not strictly necessary that the product design firm should have worked in the same industry as your product, but a ‘good-to-have’ consideration.
2) Does your design firm understand the constraints of a startup?
Startups and entrepreneurs trying to bring a new product to market have a different set of constraints they work under as compared to large corporations with huge cash reserves and supplier networks. Is your product design firm familiar with those challenges you face as a startup or small business or are their processes more tailored towards working with large global corporations?
Tech behemoths like Apple can assemble a team of manufacturing experts and suppliers to find ways to execute highly challenging design features, but a startup trying to replicate the same features and manufacturing methods will run out of funds even before getting the product out. Funding constraints, uncertainty and relatively low manufacturing volumes need to be reflected in the way products are designed for smaller companies.
3) Manufacturing experience of the product design firm
Industrial design has a very direct impact on the manufacturing feasibility and cost-effectiveness of your product. According to a study at Rolls-Royce, as much as 80% of manufacturing cost depends on product design.
Given the impact of product design on activities further down the product development process and manufacturing costs, it is imperative that the product design firm has designers or engineers with thorough knowledge of manufacturing processes.
For a lot of designers, the product’s manufacturing ability takes a backseat while aesthetics and shiny renders are prioritized. This often leads to manufacturing issues, overly expensive or complex products which then need to be re-designed later.
4) Does the product design company assist with development?
If you are looking to outsource full product development, you need to understand how far can the product design firm can take your project? Does their role end at creating 3D design concepts or do they take further ownership and help you all the way to prototyping or mass manufacturing? At Outdesign Co, apart from providing industrial design, engineering and prototyping services, we help our clients leverage our network of manufacturers in Asia to help them with the complete product development from sketch to mass production.