Principles of user Friendly Product Design

1. Consciously simplify requirements of the user in using the product.
2. Be in user’s shoes and understand the user’s skills and knowledge. The product should allow a user to easily operate it. e.g. if a personal computer is to make inroads into the articles used everyday by a house wife then the hardware and the software should become simple enough for her to handle quickly and easily.
3. The product design should be such that the operations to be done by the user while using it are very obvious.
4. Standardization might help in increasing the familiarity of the user to the product. Therefore, use standardization in the product designs.

5. Use principles of Poka Yoke i.e. preventing incorrect use. There should be no chance for the user to make a mistake.
6. Display the instructions (regarding how to use the product) clearly.
7. Expect mistakes and human errors in using. Have a design that will not offer any chance for such mistakes occurring and/or a design that will ensure that the product’s functioning will not be affected despite such mistakes.

Competitiveness Based on Time:

One of the ways a product design helps a company to gain advantage over its competitors is through reducing its reaction time to the market. When competing firms have products giving similar service /functions to the customer, it is important to reduce the time to manufacture the product and thus reach the product to the customer quickly. Whereas, when it is a case of an improved or new product design, it is important to minimize the overall time for the product to enter the market. This would, most crucially, include the time to develop the improved design of the product. The economic penalty for time delays is quite severe for new products in a dynamic market.

During that period changes occur in,
*Business environment
* Target environment
* Technology
* Overall competitive position of the firm

Possible delays in developing a new product:

Product Development:
Product has to be different or it has to be modified
Developments delays:
Further delays when a newer product is taken up

The Nature of the Product Development Process: Product development consists of the following type of activities:
(1) Concept development
(2) Marketing/sales provide market brief
(3) Prototypes drawing
(4) Prototype/cost approval
(5) Product design
(6) Get production inputs
(7) Interact with suppliers
(8) Detailed design of the product
(9) Build full scale prototype and test
(10) Manufacturing approval
(11) Pilot production
(12) Design certification
(13) Launch in the market
(14) Design review

While the above are the activities of the product design function, these have much interactions during several stages with the production, marketing and finance functions.
The manufacturing activities typically include:
(1) Defining the required processes
(2) Developing cost estimates
(3) Interacting with suppliers
(4) Detailed design of the process
(5) Developing tools and equipment
(6) Approving prototype
(7) Trying out tools, installing equipment
(8) Pilot production and verification
(9) Ironing out supplier and other problems
(10) Full scale production
(11) Reviewing the process

The marketing function has its own activities such as:

(1) Making the marketing /sales brief to the product design personnel
(2) Verifying the target market
(3) Estimating sales
(4) Evaluating the prototype
(5) New product forecast
(6) Preparing the customers
(7) Planning the distribution of the product
(8) Training sales personnel
(9) Conducting sales promotional activities
(10) Selling
(11) Providing market feedback

Again, these are seemingly simple and commonsense tips. However one may encounter situations particularly in the usage of information technology products where the practice is to give trouble shooting instructions over the telephone. Sometimes these functions are even handed over to a call center. The user is usually not as technically savvy as assumed to be. The exponential growth of the PC is testimony to the pioneers who thought up of a product that does not require technical sophistication on the part of the user.

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