User interfaces form a critical component of many products that we use: Mobile phones, household electronics, computer software, websites – these are but just a few common categories. In this discussion, we will focus on the user interface for computer-based systems, which we will call the GUI (graphical user interface) from here. Users interact heavily with and control the computer-based systems via the GUI, and thus it is important to note that the success of the user (as well as your product) depends not just on how powerful the hardware is, but also how easy the users perceive it is to use the software to (effect the entire system and) accomplish their task.
This is not meant to be a be a technical UI/UX (User Experience) run-down, but I will present 4 quick tips on a high-level view of product design for you to consider when you are starting off with your product’s GUI design. This will hopefully let you see the GUI from your customer’s (the user) perspective, and observe how an effective GUI can provide excellent value for the user, and boost user perception for your product. Continue reading
For the first time since graduation from NUS, I attended an engineering faculty alumni function today. I used to dislike going for functions alone as I would feel exposed and my mind would race desperately to try to find some topic to talk to the person next to me. But things have slowly changed since some time back – and now I enjoy meeting people (another story for another time!). But anyway, it had been a good day today – met a couple of nice folks both junior and senior batches, had good long chats about work and life.
So, after a quick registration, there was an option for a laboratory tour to see some of the innovative showcases of the faculty. The walk to the labs brought back memories – of my friends and I trudging to the labs to do experiments, bumming around study benches (!) and mugging hard in the tutorial rooms during the final week before each semester’s exam. It was a mild fuzzy feeling about the good times I had as a undergraduate. At that moment, eight years seemed just like yesterday (pardon the cliché).
And then I tried to remember what made me take up engineering, and what motivated me to study for a university degree? Back then, as a teenager fresh after GCE ‘A’ levels, a university education was the next logical step. The reasoning? I believed that a university degree will give me a much better footing in starting my career, and it was a natural proceeding after the ‘A’ levels. I admit, as a teenager, that was what went through my head and I did not put too much thought.
As part of the product design process, one of the questions we will ask is – what material(s) should we use to build our prototype, and subsequently commercial product? Commercial Off-the-shelf (COTS) components aside, the chassis, casing and many internal parts are usually not available off the shelf, and have to be custom designed and fabricated.
From my point of view, the choice of material(s) must meet three main objectives:
Packaging is an essential component of logistics, and good packaging helps ensure that your product gets delivered to your user or customer in good condition. On the other hand, poor packaging increases the risk of your product getting damaged in transit. We tend not to think too much about the negative consequences – until it happens to us, that is. Delay in delivery to the customer, insurance claims, investigation and follow-up with the logistics companies – all these can take up precious time and resources.
This is a follow-up from our previous entry here: There are many factors during shipment that we cannot control, which may damage our product. For example, we cannot control how careful the ground crew unload a shipment from a plane and load it up onto a delivery truck to prevent excessive shock to the product. We also cannot control the weather nor humidity to prevent rain or extreme heat from damaging the product. However, proper planning for packaging can help mitigate those risks. Let us take a quick look at what we can do:
Logistics is an important aspect of our businesses – it ensures goods get transported to the recipients in a timely manner, and in good condition. We usually think of recipients as end customers or distributors, but this also applies to our business entities as well – as a recipient of raw materials and components, we have to ensure they get shipped to the manufacturing site without hiccups so as to ensure that production can keep up with orders, and a healthy inventory supply is maintained. This issue is often compounded by the fact that manufacturing plants do not necessarily be situated in the same country as our businesses – which somewhat adds a little uncertainty into that equation.
Today, we shall go a little into the basic pointers of good logistics, and how these can help us to save precious time and effort in ways which might not be obvious!
How do we future-proof our product design? Product design is a time-consuming and non-trivial process. You may have spent significant amounts of time and money to design your product (or hired a design house to do it for you). It fulfils all functional requirements, the users like it because it has a very intuitive user interface. All seems to be good so far.
However, for all the positive impact it has, the product design may be subject to changes in the future. Revisiting the product design and making changes or improvements translates into additional time and money for the business, and even great inconvenience sometimes. Some reasons for change are inevitable, but if we can take note of these reasons during the initial stages of product design, then there is a good chance we can minimize this product ‘redesign’ cost in the future.
Product Design is a core part of product development – and one of the main drives of Nimble Focus Consulting, which is why I decided it will be great to kick-start off my sharing session with this topic.
The design of a product (and service, which I’ll collectively term as “product” here) is multifaceted and challenging. We are looking at designing an exciting product – which will greatly benefit our target market. Very often, this is built upon innovative and disruptive technology and concepts. When combined with well executed business development, this has a good opportunity of bringing in exponential and disproportionate income returns for the business.
For many of us in technology startups, product design can be a very new thing. Even after engaging in several iterations, we are still constantly discovering new aspects and refining our processes.
In this first part of my Product Design series, I will share with you some of my personal notes that can contribute to a good product design.