There are several different reasons why a product redesign might offer exciting commercial possibilities. Not all of these reasons will apply to your product at any given point in time, but to secure to product’s longevity you’ll need to continually review where your product sits in terms of each redesign reason. With an eye to the future, we consider some of the most compelling reasons for a product redesign.
Good design always has a strong focus on the aesthetic as well as the functional.
One of our favourite pieces of redesign is the oi bike bell – a fantastic piece of design we wish we’d created. So simple and sleek, this redesign was driven entirely by aesthetic considerations.
However, a strong focus on the aesthetic doesn’t always come off so well: anyone who has tried to use Phillippe Starck’s Juicy Salif lemon squeezer, designed in 1990 for iconic Italian design agency Alessi, will – sadly – testify to it being a triumph of style over substance, getting juice everywhere other than where you want it. Aesthetically pleasing design cannot come at the expense of function: good product design will advance both form and function.
Of the 19 inventions named by the UK’s national daily newspaper The Telegraph as the twenty-first century’s most important inventions, every single invention would have been inconceivable for most of the preceding century. The list includes Bluetooth, the iPod, Facebook, the Kindle and even IBM Watson winning Jeopardy in 2011. All are all technology driven. The escalating pace of technological change has opened up many new possibilities for inventors and continues to drive innovation in product redesign. Today, more than ever, designers are not frustrated by technological or material limitations, but rather inspired by new horizons.
In our last blog we looked at how the asthma of one Ohio janitor inspired the invention of the first upright vacuum cleaner as he looked for a less allergy-inducing way to do his job. Several decades later, the frustrations of James Dyson with his own vacuum cleaner led him to redesign this humble cleaning tool with cyclonic separation technology to great commercial success. However, don’t let us suggest that consumer-driven innovation isn’t only the preserve of vacuum cleaners. How about this Morpher folding bicycle helmet, designed by keen cyclist Jeff Woolf? Fed up with having to carry and store his bulky cycling helmet, he came up with this sleek and innovative design.
If your product is lagging behind your competitors’, it is possible that it is no longer in line with what a customer expects from the product category it is in. When Samsung added a camera to one of its mobile telephones in 2000, it was a total novelty item, very expensive, and initially released in Japan and South Korea only. Today, most smart phone purchasers expect to get a high quality digital camera as part of the phone’s core functionality; it’s a given. When customer expectations develop in this way, product designers must keep up to avoid their product becoming obsolete: it is time for a redesign.
When customer expectations have evolved so much, and products have become so much more complex, there may be an opportunity for your product designers to undertake a redesign that strips the product back down to its basics. Consider the media excitement at Nokia’s relaunch of its classic 3310 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month. The mobile phone company gave the classic pre-smart phone a technical update (which includes a colourful screen and extended battery life) and some colourful shells for a “back to basics” product redesign and relaunch.
As we’ve already seen, James Dyson redesigned the vacuum cleaner to great success. Translating this product design into other similar products has seen him extend the reach of his brand. What Dyson understood was that by turning his hands to other products that shared some of the functionality gave him an opportunity to apply the same technology and approach he had already successfully applied to the vacuum cleaner. He began redesigning other products which could benefit from his cyclonic technology and distinctive aesthetics – starting with a fan and, most recently, the hair dryer. Extending your proven design principles to other associated products in this way is one clear way to improve the reach and sustainability of your design and your business in the long term.
The maturity of your product – however great, novel or successful it was at launch – is obviously something that concerns all businesses striving for longevity and a lasting business model. To this end, many businesses now – particularly technology and software businesses – offer consumers a defined upgrade path and a view of future development and innovation going into that product. This is something Steve Jobs understood clearly – his regular launches for new versions created huge media and consumer interest. Such an upgrade path, prevents – or, at least, slows – your products progress through the product maturity lifecycle. Without an upgrade path, as your product reaches “maturity” you will probably find that a more radical redesign may be required to re-spark interest in your product and prevent – or postpone – declining sales.
Wherever your product is in the product lifecycle, could it benefit from a redesign? Could any of these redesign reasons inspire you to rethink a product? If you have ideas or a desire to improve or enhance a product, our designers could help. Fill in the Project Planner today to get started on your product redesign project.