“Ah yes, Design. It’s nice, but our product is installed in a place where hardly anyone ever sees it. It doesn’t really matter what it looks like. So, Design is hardly relevant for us.”
Cool. Except it’s not true.
Think of a sewage pump. When taken into use, it is sunk into sludge, out of everyone’s sight. There, it will tirelessly perform its duties without need for manual operation. From time to time, a service technician will lift it up, wash it, and perform some maintenance, but that’s pretty much it.
But, before any of the above happens, Design has already served a purpose.
Someone made the decision to buy the product, probably comparing alternatives and settling on that particular one. Specifications may have played a role in the selection, but they tend to be pretty similar. What matters is the impression made by the product and the brand: an aura of trustworthiness, quality, and to-the-point usefulness are usually the most important deciding factors – whether the customer realizes it or not.
And of course, there’s pricing. You’ll want to put a competitive price tag on your product, which means that manufacturing costs will be an important aspect in your product development. This is accomplished by making sound design decisions.
Let’s consider the users. A day-to-day end user is not the only type of user there is. You’ll want to make the product easy to install so that the process is quick, intuitive and error-free. This is more important than it might initially seem, since most unexpected service calls actually result from mistakes made during installation. And when maintenance is needed, you’ll want to do it quick. No-one likes service breaks, especially unscheduled ones.
You may also want to streamline your product by getting rid of features which are not useful for your customers. Likewise, you will want to design your product to meet the core needs of the customer as well as possible. To accomplish these goals, you’ll need to study and understand your customers.
Design provides the tools for all of the above, and more. So, when you think about it, Design is actually very relevant for your product.
And we did not even discuss services yet.