Product Design

Prachipallavi Samal

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman is an eye opener to how often we overlook the design of products that we use every day. It makes a simple point– the design of everyday things should be intuitive so that using them is easy. Sound fascinating? Give product design a try!

But… What is Product Design?

Product design is what goes into creating a product. It is an intersection of human psychology, aesthetics, and engineering. The products that get to the market have to be appealing to users. Products are appealing to users if they are easy to use, effective, and aesthetic. Thousands of products fall out of markets simply because they are too complicated to use, despite good functionality.

Engineering courses tend to have a higher emphasis on effectiveness– basically, the number of functions the device can serve. While that certainly is important, the device should not be effective at the cost of ease of use. For example, a telephone that’s full of buttons may be able to perform a variety of purposes, but it would be too difficult to understand which button is for what.

The Norman Door: Simple and Better Design

An example of an improved product is a Norman door. The trouble with normal push and pull doors is that it is confusing to decide if the door has to be pushed or pulled, even if there are signs telling you what to do. Intuitively, no one reads signs while opening a door. Also, a handle evokes a natural response of pulling. This problem with Norman doors is solved by substituting the push side handle by a metal plate. A metal pate evokes the pushing reaction naturally. Therefore, the doors are easier to use.

What Do You Need?

This field involves a lot of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Improvement is frequent– the design you start out with changes a lot by the end of the design process. Consequently, one has to be very comfortable with changing requirements and new situations. If you love creating new things, you could look at this field as a potentially challenging and fulfilling career.

Further Resources

Find The Design of Everyday Things on: Buy the Design of Everyday Things. An insightful podcast talking about this very topic is 99 Percent Invisible. Check these out, and keep an eye out for opportunities to improve designs around you.

Edited by: Kaylynn Crawford and Shreya Singireddy