Onshape co-founder John McEleney recently revisited “5 Epic Consumer Product Design Failures,” compiling a virtual ‘Hall of Shame’ for engineers and a playbook of what not to do when launching a new product.
Of course, there’s no guarantee your product will thrive even when you do follow all the best practices. If there were such a thing as a “sure thing,” hardware startups would have a 100 percent success rate instead of the dismal single-digit survival rate over the long term.
So how does your company maximize the odds of a new consumer product becoming a hit – and minimize the odds of becoming an embarrassing example for future business bloggers and textbooks?
The first thing you need to do – and I admit this is odd advice from this address – is to step away from your product development software.
It’s easy to fall in love with your own CAD design on the computer screen, but it’s how everything fits together off the screen that really matters. Before you start sketching your product idea, before you commit a single line or shape to the screen, walk away from your computer for a bit. You can save yourself a lot of time, money and aggravation by thinking more about why your product should exist in the first place – is it a “nice to have” or a “need to have” product?
It’s vital to remember that customers do not desire products, they desire outcomes. Products need to solve real-life problems or provide huge benefits that genuinely merit separating money from wallets.
For Onshape’s latest eBook, “10 Design Questions That Can Make or Break a New Consumer Product,” we compiled a must-have checklist for your company to pressure-test its ideas. These questions come from veteran engineers and designers who graciously shared their decades of product development experience for this guide. Their companies specialize in a wide range of products, including: acoustic equipment, home furnishings, baby products, athletic gear, power tools, farming equipment, FM radios, and bicycles.
Despite the diverse focus of these successful companies, it’s remarkable how much their product design and development processes share in common. Their hard-learned lessons can now benefit you, potentially saving your company time, money and endless frustration.