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  • Writer's pictureKyle Fisk

Why should you hire an Industrial Designer?

A great product is like a successful date-night dinner: attractive, satisfying and conversation worthy. You are spending your hard-earned money, so you deserve quality in return! Thankfully, we have Yelp to help find the best restaurants for date night, architects to design great buildings, and we have industrial designers to help design great products.

What is an industrial designer?

An industrial designer lives at the crossroads of art, engineering, and business. They help locate the perfect balance between aesthetics and functionality, while also enhancing the user experience. Their experience and training allows the industrial designer to assist on the business side by providing a unique point of view on topics such as go-to-market planning, brand development and integrity, along with supply chain and manufacturing considerations.

However, every designer has a different skill set as well as industry experience. One designer may be a great illustrator, capable of creating life-like renderings, yet they are not as strong when it comes to modeling and prototyping the design. Similarly, a designer who has worked on running shoes for fifteen years may struggle to design a children’s toy as they have honed their skills towards a different industry. Diversity of backgrounds is one reason people decide to work with a design firm rather than an independent designer.

What does an industrial designer do?

An industrial designer is a creative problem solver. From idea to production, they are experts at navigating the design process and hurdling any issues. To help explain, let’s look at a summarized process from a high level:

1) Design Research and Strategy: For there to be a design need, there needs to be a problem. During this phase, a designer will study this problem and its user group, leading to a variety of conceptual ideas. Before progressing, they create a project framework that addresses the business, user, and brand requirements to keep the concepts desirable, yet realistic.

2) Concept Design: The ideas are sketched and styled during this phase. Details (and interactions) are thought through, forms are explored, and colors and finishes are brainstormed. At the end of this phase, there are typically several unique concepts that explore different methods of achieving the desired solution.

3) Prototyping and Testing: To validate the concepts with the user, it is often helpful to create physical prototypes. The initial prototypes are typically rough, yet they allow the user group to share feedback without the designer investing too much time and money. After the study is complete, a designer should have a list of positives and negatives for each idea.

4) More Concept Design, Prototyping, and Testing: Taking feedback from the initial testing, this phase is repeated until we arrive at the best solution. After each round of testing, it is common to see the favorite aspects of each concept merged. Each round of testing may see an upgrade to the quality of the prototype to allow for more realistic product interaction and therefore more impactful feedback.

5) Engineering and Analysis: With the concept refined, it’s time to make it producible! Utilizing CAD software and digital resources, the concept is digitally created and organized to share out with a manufacturer. During this phase, it is common to see designers collaborate with engineers and graphic designers to gain additional expertise. A design firm will usually have them on-staff or can work with a network of freelance resources to match the need.

6) Manufacturing Support and Logistics: With the product designed and engineered, it is time to find the right manufacturing resource. After some back and forth to fine-tune the design, costs and production schedules are created. Then production begins!

Why you should hire an industrial designer?

An industrial designer is a great resource who can help differentiate and elevate your brand. They are trained to understand the many facets of product development and they can be utilized throughout the project or just on certain phases. Still unsure? Reach out and talk with a design firm to understand how they can assist on your current or next project!

Good luck!


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