Data-Driven Product Design

Data-Driven Design

A typical product design process is a knowledge-driven process with very little data involved. Product designers and engineers tend to trust their knowledge and expertise as the main resource for product design decision-making and product brief writing. Involving data in a product design process can improve the design quality, reduce costs and shorten time-to-market. In this article, I’ll explain what a data-driven product design is, what its benefits are, why it’s not common, and how to implement this useful method.

What is the difference between data and knowledge in the context of product design?
Data is a collection of individual facts. For instance: a list of materials’ prices. Knowledge is a meaningful acquaintance with facts, principles, methods, or practices to understand or perform a specific subject. For instance: the ability to choose the right materials for a product.

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Physical vs. Virtual Products

physical vs virtual products

Physical products are an inseparable part of human history. From ancient tool makers to modern mass manufacturers, physical products were always intended to extend and improve the human body, giving us the ability to do things better, faster, stronger, easier, etc., in a way we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.

There are only two types of tools that extend the human mind: writing and software. The invention of writing enabled, for the first time in history, humans to keep thoughts, ideas, and information external to the human brain. That was a major step in our evolution. The software took these capabilities a few steps further by enabling a much more powerful tool to store and use data and make calculations.

Physical products and software products are very different from each other. One has a body and it follows the rules of physics, while the other has no body and is based on logic. For many years, these two types of products lived in separate worlds. Today, the borders between them are fading. The Internet, the Internet Of Things (IOT), Wearable Computing, and the low cost of microprocessors allow for more and more physical products to also become software products.

In this article, I’ll describe some of these main product aspects and discuss the differences between physical products and software products.

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Is it God or the Devil in the details?

perfectionism design example

Perfectionism is a controversial character trait. In the context of product design and product design management, some consider it as a must-have trait, and some see it as a burden. Some product designers try to learn how to be more of a perfectionist while others try to avoid the same. Is it God or the Devil in the details? In this article, I’ll discuss the pros & cons of perfectionism for product designers, engineers and product design managers, from professional and practical perspectives.

The only good aspect of perfectionism is that is causes a person to aim to produce the best results possible — a perfectionist will not compromise and will keep working on all details until the product is perfect. For non-perfectionists, ‘90% perfect’ might be good enough. But for a perfectionist, skipping that final 10% is not an option; they will keep working and working until 100% has been achieved. In many cases, this last 10% can make a big difference in a product’s quality. In this matter, perfectionism is a valuable trait, and it can help in achieving better products.

Unfortunately, perfectionism is much more of a burden than a skill in the product design process. Here are the three main reasons why:

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Engineers are from Mars, Designers are from Venus

Engineers are from Mars, Designers are from Venus

Any product is the outcome of both the work of engineers and industrial designers. There aren’t many products that can be designed solely by engineers without designers, and vice versa. In a product design project, the engineers and the designers work shoulder to shoulder, and they both responsible for designing the product, but do they see the design work eye to eye?

Engineers are from Mars and designers are from Venus; they do not share the same background, and they do not speak the same language. They even think differently. They see products in very different ways and tend to misunderstand each other’s perspectives. Engineers see designers as unrealistic visionaries and designers see engineers as shortsighted technocrats. I made these two lists to help engineers and designers to close the gaps between the two disciplines and to cooperate better as a design team in a product design project.

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Why over-engineering is a management failure and how to avoid it


Over-engineering is the silence product’s failure. It inhibits business growth for product design and manufacturing companies, especially for ones that deal with capabilities and performance oriented products. Unlike under-engineering, over-engineering is not easily recognized; this is why it can exist for long time. Over-engineering is not an engineering failure but a management one. Therefore management actions should be taken to deal with it.

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