How much does the product design of the technology industry need to consider?


In order to attract the attention of capital, entrepreneurs and CEOs in the technology industry have spent a lot of attention on visual design, trying to create beautiful products and brands with very cool images.

In a world dominated by Apple products, this idea makes sense. A large number of successful companies have high-quality products, and visual design is one of the ways to make their products stand out from the market. Therefore, when we think about “design” now, the first thing that comes to mind is “visual design”.

How do companies that do not rely on good visual design to succeed? This situation does exist. Maybe they have no competitors; maybe because the technology is so outstanding that no one cares about the beauty of the product; or, their success is simply fortunate.

Among the most successful companies with “bad design”, we have to mention Craigslist and Google before 2004. The above two companies chose to focus on areas other than beautifying products, and they are committed to devoting resources to more important business-related matters. They choose the right design at the right time. If you are considering how to allocate your own design resources, you may be able to refer to these two companies. If the field you are involved in is somewhat similar to Craiglist, then you don’t need to beautify the product at all.

Design stage

If you are building a brand new website or app, where should you start? Color scheme? User registration process? navigation?

neither! You should start by discovering markets and opportunities, and then refine a product that fits the opportunity. Once you have confidence in your product and believe that it can solve major problems for a large number of users, you can focus on the specific implementation, workflow, and appearance of the product.

The following is the “design phase” that all good companies have gone through:

·The first stage, product design: build a product to solve a problem or meet a demand.

·The second stage, interactive design: make the product easy to understand and easy to use.

·The third stage, visual design: beautify the product.

So, can a product with a bad design stand out? Let us emphasize that when the company really needs to improve the visual design of the product, we will focus on this aspect again.

Each company has its own decisions on how to invest resources in design and when to invest. Some companies have gone through all three stages; some have stayed in the second stage. Their products have good features and are very useful. But it is not particularly beautiful; some have already provided users with very valuable services in the first stage, and they do not think it is necessary to continue to improve the design.

3 use cases

Craigslist : Basic product design

Craig Newmark (Craig Newmark) found a huge market opportunity: through the Internet to provide free classified ads. Because it’s free, Craigslist has a huge attraction for advertisers, and people quickly gather to share all kinds of information on it, including recruitment, used car deals or dating. The resulting network effect makes it difficult for any latecomer to compete with Craigslist (the impact on newspapers is particularly huge because they do not provide free advertising).

Craigslist’s product design is very good, and their interaction design is also good enough. Therefore, there is no need to invest more resources in product design.

Uber : Start with product design, and start interactive and visual design work when necessary

When Uber was launched in San Francisco in 2010, it provided an incredible experience. The user only needs to click a button on the mobile phone to call a taxi immediately. Uber focuses on creating such an excellent experience, which means that they need to design the basic experience, create a balance in the market (there are vehicles that can be reserved at any time), and at the same time maintain the quality of the driver and the vehicle. They are concerned with product design.

Uber’s first iPhone application was not beautiful, but the company did a good job in its products, and they had no competitors at the time.

With increasingly fierce competition and more and more functions of the service, Uber decided to work hard on interactivity and visual design. Later in 2012, Uber launched a new version of the app, which is easier to use and more beautiful. The company created a high-end brand through visual design, further expanding the user base.

Square : Work on product, interactivity and visual design at the very beginning

Square is not the first company to provide credit card processing, point-of-sale software, and online scheduling. The company faced competition from the beginning, and they knew that merely offering products with similar functions was not enough to deal with the competition. Therefore, the company has proceeded in parallel in the above three stages from the beginning.

Merchants can accept credit card payments after plugging the company’s product Square Reader into their smartphones. This product has been successful in all three stages. It is the fastest and lowest cost way to collect credit card payments; it is very easy to install and use; it has its own characteristics and looks cool.

When Square was determined to expand their business, they knew they were facing fierce competition, so they continued to invest in design.

How to make the right design at the right time?

For companies that have already achieved success, it is very easy to review the entire process. We can see how they invest in design based on the market, product life cycle, and competition. So, how can you make the same correct decision for your company?

When I was working for a startup that was funded by Google Wind, all I could do was help the team identify the risks they faced when they started their business. Next, design a prototype product, and then gradually try those ways to minimize the risk.

The following are some of the frequently asked questions about risk by start-ups:

Is there a market for my product?

Product design and visual design are opposed to each other. Create a product with basic functions, and then get it to the market for testing. Once you are able to establish a basic market for your product, then you can then consider how to proceed with further design.

Can we compete in a saturated market?

Good product design alone may not be enough. Unless you can launch new business models (like Craigslist launched free classified ads) or new ways to attract consumers (like Facebook’s attraction to college students), you need to focus on interaction and visual design. Investigate competitors’ consumers to see if your products are more useful, easier to use, and more beautiful.

Will people trust our products?

For products, gaining the trust of consumers is the most important. You may need to pay attention to interaction and visual design up front. Among the companies we invest in, there are two financial services startups-LendUp and OnDeck. Their products have been successful in the first phase (more competitive tariffs, faster approval speeds, etc.). Later, they made a huge investment in interaction and visual design, which helped them gain the trust of consumers.

Can we add new features to the product without letting consumers get bored?

The vast majority of companies will face this challenge at some point: how to increase product features while not letting existing consumers get bored? Those successful companies have adopted different strategies in each of the three phases. In the first phase, the focus of the new features is on usefulness. In the second and third phases, these newly added functions need to be consistent with the existing product framework to make it more acceptable to consumers. Just like Apple did with iOS, while investing in the development of new features, it takes into account the feelings of existing users.

As a designer, I am deeply impressed by companies that have successfully gone through all three stages. Their products all have something in common-useful, easy to use and beautiful. I often encourage those startups to develop in the same direction. But after working closely with nearly 100 startups, I found that this is not always the right advice. Start-up companies face many constraints in terms of time, funding, and team size, so they cannot take care of all aspects at the same time.

There are several different stages of design mentioned above. You need to decide when and which design direction your company should focus on. These decisions will affect the employees you hire, the design companies you work with, the goals you set, and the priorities of your business.

You may not be able to balance product, interactivity, and visual design at the same time, but you can carefully observe how successful companies do, and then weigh the risks you face, and you can make the right design at the right time.

No Comments

Be the first to start the conversation.

Leave a Reply

  • Your cart is empty.