“A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step,” says the Lao Tzu proverb. The same is true when you’re developing a product. There is no place to begin except the beginning, and sometimes even that isn’t very clear.
We've put together a basic round-up of online resources, websites, blogs, etc., that can move your idea forward. Maybe not terribly far forward, but at least you’ll be moving. Let’s assume you’ve already sketched your idea out on the back of an envelope. What next?
Of course, it’s a good idea to get on the internet to see whether anyone has already made your idea. Describe it into the Google search engine and see what comes up. If you already see something that’s doing exactly what your widget will do, are there ways you can change yours up to make it even more unique? It doesn’t cost anything to brainstorm. You need to look at competitive designs and do market research to make sure the product is commercially viable.
A few product/industrial design websites you’ll want to look at are:
“Core77 publishes articles, discussion forums, an extensive event calendar, hosts portfolios, job listings, a database of design firms, schools, vendors and services. Core77 provides a gathering point for designers and enthusiasts alike by producing design competitions, lecture series, parties, and exhibits.”
“We are the Industrial Designers Society of America—a non-profit membership association dedicated to advocacy, education, community and information in industrial design. Here, you will find definitions, history, events, programs, news, videos, surveys and even tool kits to help you spread the word about industrial design (ID) and its impact on our daily lives.”
An international design competition, “Red Dot Design Award, is aimed at all those who would like to distinguish their business activities through design. The distinction is based on the principle of selection and presentation. Excellent design is selected by competent expert juries in the areas of product design, communication design, and design concepts.” The site also features an informative email news letter.
For great general information and even more links to design/development sites, I recommend
the blog post, "How to Find an Industrial Designer," on the MakingSociety site.
Let's say you're fortunate enough to know a good design firm, or a contract manufacturer with design capabilities. What do you need to look for?
- Start with examining the products they're already designing/producing. Does it seem like a good fit for your product?
- Do they have Design for Manufacturing (DFM) experience?
- Does the company have reliable stateside engineering support? Having engineering expertise available by phone can greatly streamline the product development process.
We'd love to hear from you. If you have any tips or websites you've found helpful, please share in the comment section below.