“I believe simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication: an Eames lounge chair, a Montblanc ink pen and, of course, virtually anything that comes out of the design monolith that is Apple.  Avoid the temptation to “over design” and trick something up for the sake of it – disrupt, but disrupt beautifully.”

Colin Dobbyne, product development consultant and founder of Big Blue Solutions


> THE ROLE OF THE PRODUCT DESIGNER

It used to be that the term “product designer” or “product development consultant” described someone who just designed the look and feel of a product.  However, this has evolved hugely and now product development includes a far wider range of disciplines, including how the user interprets the product and how seamless their experience with it will be.

 This emphasis on user experience has never been greater, due in part of the huge increase in tech start-ups, an industry in which user interaction plays a key role.  Whether the end-user is a teenager using a mobile app, a surgeon carrying out complex laparoscopic surgery or an engineer working on a new jet engine, the development of well-designed consumer experiences such as the iPhone, Facebook, and Netflix has set a precedent for people through everyday use, raising expectations that everything we interact with will offer the same.

> THE PROBLEM WITH LARGE CONSULTANCIES

Working with a large product consultancy comes with a major problem: their sheer size means they take over the entire development, using their own developers, engineers and scientists. This adds another layer of separation between the customer and the product, when actually the needs of the customer – even if it’s needs they don’t even realise they have yet – should be at the centre of everything.

The key issues around working with a large consultancy:

  • The major learning curve for a large team to understand the specialist nature of your market and customers
  • No team on board to continue with evolution of the product - its continued innovation
  • The difficulty of folding the product technology back into your company
  • A lack of ownership for your in-house developers

> BIG BLUE SOLUTIONS

The demand for great product designers has never been higher.

At Big Blue Solutions, we integrate with each client’s company, values and vision, meaning we are ideally placed to:

  • Learn from your management team the precise and detailed market situation.
  • Identify which product or products need innovation or invention to increase consumer welfare, build a brand and achieve the required growth.
  • Help identify the latest technology and development tools necessary.
  • Recruit the best engineers - either as short-term contractors or on-boarding full-time.
  • Introduce the necessary procedures to focus and target your entire company, not just the development team, into how to develop new products.

THE PROCESS

It’s all about research, research, research.  At Big Blue Solutions, we work closely with you to develop two key documents that inform the final design:

The Market Requirements Document (MRD)

The MRD clearly lays out the frustrations or wishes of the user or customer.  This is crucial and should not focus on what technology is deployed.  It is the voice of the customer (VoC) and should be researched and interpreted by the marketing and product management teams to build a clear picture of what customers want.  With innovation, the customers cannot express the need for something that does not exist - in these cases, feedback from the customers on outline concepts is essential.

The Product Requirements Document (PRD)

Once the customer needs or wishes are understood, the PRD can be created.  This is the voice of the engineer (VoE) and the design and development team, who gather to brainstorm ideas, think out of the box and take a high level view of what should be created.  It needs to consider whether the project will involve innovation on an existing product, or something entirely new, and whether is it appropriate to use the incumbent technologies used for existing products or if it is time to break the mould and introduce new ones.

 

These two documents form part of a larger process we call the “Hourglass”.  There is a reduction of activities to refine the search for the ideal product or innovation.  A small team then works on the concept and once agreed, the development resources are applied and ultimately the entire company scales up to manufacture and launch the new product.