Concepting as a step in the design process that actually happens twice. The first concepting step is your original idea. The second time (which is usually when you hire a product developer/designer) is during ideation which happens before refining that idea into your final concept. Ideation is a crucial point in the creative development of a product. Ideation is the process of taking a single idea, and expanding upon it through a process of exploration and concept generation. For design firms, this usually means taking a clients’ idea or problem and generating a series of concepts or ideas that are usually at the sketch level. We define a sketch level concept as something that is either a traditional sketch, a foam model, or a quick 3D model that shows the concept concisely. Details are usually low as it’s only goal is to convey an idea, not to go to production with the sketch. This phase of the design process generates the largest amount of ideas, which are always cut down during the review process. Here are 5 things to keep in mind while successfully going through the concept steps with your product developer.
- Have your documents together. Any sketches, descriptions, images, reference images of similar products, and anything else that might help describe your idea. It may seem silly to have to put this here, but without having this together at the start, it slows the process down.
- Give your designer edits for each review session. Almost every ideation process includes several rounds of ideation, where concepts are narrowed down, before more are created. To help with this, make sure you’ve spent plenty of time reviewing the concepts. Also, the best form of communication is visual. Red-lining and marking up the concepts that were presented to you and sending them to your designer before the meeting gives them time to review and think about your thoughts before discussing the concepts.
- Quantity vs Quality. At the start of the ideation process, quantity can sometimes be preferred to quality when the project is not narrowly defined. Usually this switches through the process where at the start you want lots of concepts, and then by the end, you are working with only a few concepts that are approaching final quality. This doesn’t mean that the initial ideas are low quality necessarily, but that less time is put into each one to give a wide spread of ideas to work with at the start.
- Know your why. While it’s commonly expected for a product developer or designer to be able to explain why for their thoughts and ideas, you should know yours too. Being able to communicate why you want to change something, or why you think a certain feature should be there will help your developer to understand and will help guide them toward the product that will fit your needs. Without a why, it can easily just become a feature that the designer works around, instead of fully understanding its why. This limits your developers ability to create the most effective product.
- Clear communication. This I can’t stress enough. It doesn’t mean having the best sketches, or CAD, or being able to write like a bestselling author. It means making sure your thoughts are communicated to the designer, and that you make sure we understand you. Sometimes things don’t click the first time for a developer, we won’t be insulted if you give more information and explain things in a couple ways before a project starts. It’s important that you are comfortable with the level of understanding your product developer has. Because if they don’t understand fully, it automatically causes there to be some mistakes built into the process, which we always want to avoid. It’s your job to make sure we understand you. It’s also the job of a good developer to make sure they understand your idea. When both of those things happen, then everyone can walk away knowing that the idea is understood, and no time will be wasted going down the wrong path.
If you follow these 5 things, you’ll be making the most of the ideation/concepting process that you’ll go through in developing your product. Having this process go smoothly will help set the tone for the rest of the project, and keep things moving along nicely.