When defining and characterizing a product in a product design process, there are two different types of product’s attributes that have to be considered – the Hard-Attributes and the Soft-Attributes. These two attributes are radically different in nature. Not distinguishing between them and treating them evenly is a common mistake. This article describes the differences between these two types of attributes and explains how to properly manage each of them.
What is the difference between hard and soft attributes of a product?
Hard-Attributes are objective and measurable, and have to do principally with the functioning and performance of a product; for example, strength, speed, weight, and price. They are mainly the purview of engineers.
In contrast, Soft-Attributes are subjective and emotional. They are described using words like attractive, young; sporty, pleasant, and feminine, and cannot be quantified or measured by objective means. For the most part, these attributes have to do with the character of the product and its user-experience. Soft-Attributes are mainly the purview of industrial designers.