Finding The Right Industrial Design Company
With so many potential options on the market, it can be overwhelming to select an industrial design company that best fits your needs. Here are a few tips to help you identify which firm will be a true partner.
1. Relevant prior experience
Relevant experience in a particular category of products or use environments can be an important quality to seek out in an industrial design company. For example, Goddard’s engineers and designers have a deep knowledge of how to design products for use in an operating room.
Because of this experience, we are able to leverage our lessons learned for future clients that are looking to design medical products for use in high-stress environments with a lot of surrounding variables (such as noise and lighting).
It’s important to bear in mind, however, that there are core practices in design that cut across industry verticals. Even if the firm you are working with has never worked on anything like your product before, it’s critical that there is alignment on these core practices.
2. Design for engineering/manufacturing capabilities
At Goddard, we’ve heard time and time again about companies working with industrial design firms and developing a product that cannot be manufactured. Oftentimes, those companies tell us that they will end up with interesting design ideas, but that there was an inevitable hurdle when it came to handing off those ideas to be manufactured.
The way that Goddard manages this challenge is by keeping our engineers and designers on the same page – the engineering efforts should work in lock-step with the design thinking. Successful designs include usability, manufacturability, and marketability.
3. Design with key stakeholders in mind
It’s critical to seek out design firms that keep the user and other key stakeholders at the center of their design strategy. In some industries, such as the medical device space, companies are required to demonstrate that they have conducted thorough user studies.
The FDA (the regulatory group that oversees approval of medical devices) has created a process that requires companies to quantify their human factors engineering work.
It is just good practice to design products with the user at the heart of the development strategy. The reason this work is mandated is because good design practices will ultimately mitigate patient risk and prevent bad outcomes. If you’re designing for your user, you’re aligned with the law.
Getting Started With An Industrial Design Company
Here are a few tips on what you will need in order to kick things off once you’ve selected an industrial design company.
1. Gather relevant documentation
Branding guidelines, product design sketches, data from user tests – anything that would provide insight into your company’s design thinking, and user needs. The more you can share with the firm, the better they will be able to quickly and seamlessly integrate those design elements into their work.
2. Be clear about overall goals and timelines
Nothing slows a project down more than miscommunication. Take the time to clearly define your goals with the industrial design firm and be prepared to collaborate with them on determining a timeline. This is not necessarily specific to industrial design companies, but it’s good advice when working with any external firm.
3. Starting at Phase Zero?
If you are at the very beginning of the product development process, here are some basic questions you should be ready to investigate with the help of the industrial design company:
- What is the product you are making?
- What should it do?
- What design elements are “nice to have” versus “need to have”?
- Who are your users?
- What is the use environment for this product?
Learn More – Phase Zero: The First and Most Important Step in a Product Development Plan