How do you define Industrial Design (ID)?
Industrial Design is a design process to help shape a product. ID, to me, is identifying a problem and strategically solving it. Usually, that problem revolves around products that people purchase and use in their day to day life. Sometimes the users’ needs are not met, or the product is not selling very well. This could occur for several reasons. For example, it doesn’t look like other products in the industry, or it may look unappealing to the end users. There are ways to redesign and improve to make the product great. Secondly, it’s crucial to understand superior design by empathizing with the users, their needs, and being able to tell the products’ story.
How does ID benefit products and consumers?
If a user’s needs are not being met by a product, and someone identifies that need and creates something that satisfies it, in the end you’ll have a happy customer. The user will feel heard and be happy their need is met. Ultimately, solving these problems makes their lives better. In return, great products and happy users means the company providing the product will be successful. The ROI is evident.
Can engineering create a product without ID?
It’s possible and does happen. Engineers can solve problems, create a product that will work well and meet all technical requirements. It may function, but will not be the best experience for the user. ID assures the look and feel is desirable by the user and easy to use.
What is your typical ID process?
My process is to understand the user, the product goals, technical requirements, and then the final details. My process at Nectar is fully integrated with user experience and engineering. If you get absorbed in the details too early in the project, you can lose sight of the big picture. There’s a time and place for the details, but that typically happens later in the process. At the beginning, you want to be immersed with understanding the user and checking off all the boxes they would.
How do you work with different departments such as those at a multidisciplinary firm, like Nectar?
The different disciplines work together all the time. We brainstorm, bounce ideas off one another, lots of meetings and interactions. What I have found when working with different disciplines is you understand one another’s values. You want to make sure you know what their goals are and understand the things they value. If we don’t understand each other’s values, then that’s something each side needs to explore and respect. It’s that respect and empathy that drives great teamwork and the best results.
What are the hesitations some companies may have about ID?
Some people don’t see the need for it. They may not understand it or think that products can be created without a lot of effort. There is so much behind the scenes work that goes into every product. We try to show clients the amount of work that goes into it and what leads to successful results.
This is analogous to an experience at a restaurant. If someone spends a little extra to go to a nice restaurant, the food, atmosphere, and experience will be better and make them happier. You could go to a fast-food restaurant and get the same function- your body needs food, but that experience is going to be completely different.
What is your ideal project?
I love projects that the user interacts with. Products that people are holding, touching, or wearing. These are more challenging and satisfying. These are the projects that have impressive results. I don’t enjoy “static” projects as much. These are the monitors or screens that just get mounted to a wall or set on a display table. These products are focused on brand aesthetic that your trying to align with a company’s values, instead of being user- centered. They aren’t as challenging to develop and not as rewarding at the end of the day.