5 Elements of a Great Product Design Language

"Our process allows us to codify the difficult task of developing a product design language whilst keeping true to the client’s original product vision."
Ben Cullen

 

5 Elements of a Great Product Design Language 

Did you know there were 18,796 different kinds of android devices on the market last year?  Whether you’re a business looking to release a new product or a consumer on the hunt for a new mobile phone, that kind of market fragmentation is enough to make anyone’s eyes water. 

Many businesses today realise that it’s no longer enough for a product to simply function. To cut through the static of unlimited choice, products must communicate with consumers in more sophisticated ways.

A common trend we see at ide is that successful products have usually been developed with a deep understanding of the customer in mind. “Product Design Language” is the term used to describe how brand values and deep customer insights are translated into how a product looks, feels and functions. What we tend to see is that when this is done well, products don’t just succeed; they exceed expectations and dominate the market. Crafting a killer product design language can be a difficult task. Contrary to what some may believe, it’s not just about aesthetics.

Fusing brand and customer values together to create a coherent product design is a complicated journey, particularly when multiple stakeholders are involved. Knowing the right questions to ask can go a long way to guiding you to create the best possible product design. From our experience, here are 5 essential elements needed to craft a great product design language:

1. Supports Your Brand’s Values

A great design language can reinforce a great brand and even transcend generations. When a product design language aligns well with a brand’s core values it can be updated and refreshed many times and over many years, rewarded by long term brand loyalty from customers.

02.jpg

2. Helps Differentiate Your Product Within the Market

In crowded markets filled with a plethora of similar products, it pays to stand out and get noticed. A strong and well executed design language can help your product turn heads and attract attention. It can even help define new market segments, where great products can thrive.

03.jpg

In crowded markets filled with a plethora of similar products, it pays to stand out and get noticed. A strong and well executed design language can help your product turn heads and attract attention. It can even help define new market segments, where great products can thrive.

3. Maintains Consistency With Your Entire Product Portfolio

It is important that any new product design language complements your existing product portfolio and helps define new products in relation to those already in your portfolio, even if they have their own design languages.

Problems usually arise when a company has a confused brand message or a disparate product portfolio and it is not clear as to what aesthetic direction new products should take. 

If you have established a product design language that strongly reflects your brand’s values, you automatically have a strong ‘archetype’ or vision as to what the next generation of your product might look like. This can be done by identifying a set of design cues and style guides that can be considered and incorporated when designing future products. 

04.jpg

4. Enhances the Customer’s Experience

Nancy Malik Stevens, Product Developer at ide, pointed out a few weeks ago in her blog '3 Important Lessons From Japanese Product Design' that “what we see and sense has a powerful influence over how we feel. And how we feel often influences our behaviour and the decisions that we make”. 

Products that enhance the customer’s perception in a positive way will usually lead to more success. Incorporating an element of surprise and engaging all of the senses through your product design language can help your product compete in highly crowded and fragmented markets.  

5. Embodies the Product’s Function 

It is important to ensure that the aesthetics of a product convey a design semantic familiar to the user and this stays true to its primary function.

For example, if you were designing a new mobile phone, it wouldn’t matter how brilliantly your design language matched the values of your brand if it wasn’t obvious how to hold it or where to speak into. Or say another example, a supposedly commercial grade power tool looked like it might fall apart after a few uses and therefore completely out of place on a building site.

Navigating the Way to a Great Product Design Language for Unique Products 

Quite often in the fields that we work in such as medical devices or industrial products, the products we are designing are completely unique.  Sometimes there are no available points of reference for our designers to turn to. 

ide has developed a set of tools that help us gather information from a wide range of stakeholders at an early stage of the project. We use our process to deconstruct all of the gathered information and build it back up in a way that helps shapes a unique product design language for a specific project or client.

Our process allows us to codify the difficult task of developing a product design language whilst keeping true to the client’s original product vision.

Do you have a question or a comment you would like to share about this post?

Visit our ide Connect community to join the discussion. Back to Insights

 
Erin Evanochko