Tag: Entrepreneur

01 Mar 2019
5 Basics Everyone Needs to Create a Website

5 Website Basics Everyone Needs

Website basics, if you know these it’ll make your life easier! If you are thinking of creating a website yourself or wondering what basic items designers will use to create a website for you, this is for you. There are 5 main items that every website needs to have in order to be a true marketing asset. Whether you work with a design firm, a freelancer, or you create these aspects yourself, you will want to make sure this checklist is covered before you launch your new website. While this isn’t a comprehensive list (different websites might have additional things they need) this covers the basics everyone needs.

Goals. What is the goal of the website, your company, sales, etc. You don’t have to have a ton of goals (I do, but I’m an overachiever), but you should have at least a couple. Know what you are trying to achieve with the website and how it applies and helps your business and it’s goals. Is it sharing your story? Attracting tons of traffic? Selling lots of widgets? Answering peoples questions? Providing services? Setting the goals will help you get the right website made, even if it’s just you doing it.

Brand and Content. You need a brand, even if it’s just a color, a font, and a logo. Most graphic designers would cringe hearing this, but with my design background I also understand entrepreneurs and the start-up process. Now that you have a brand (or the start of one) you’ll also need your written content!

Product, Service, or Both. It doesn’t matter what combination you have here, you need to know what you are are providing to your visitors. It doesn’t have to be paid, it could be free, but what is your product or service? What does it do, how does it help the visitor? Make sure these things are at least loosely defined before creating a website. If you end up adjusting and editing during the process, don’t worry that happens. Should it happen, just make sure you know the basics of what you are providing to your visitors. Being clear about you are offering, be it products or services. The choice can determine if you need an ecommerce website or not. Knowing this is very important as the complexity can change quite a bit when you add ecommerce to your website.

Target Market. Who’s this site for? Tall people, short people, sick people healthy people? This matters because it will help define the content and also tells you about how the content should be made, the type of content, where you’ll want to get your website listed, etc. A good place to start if you don’t have a target already is to define one. I suggest starting with a niche, which I talked about in Defining Your Niche – Why it Matters

Budget and Timeline. So, even if you are doing this yourself, you need a budget and a timeline. We’ve talked about these before in 3 Must Haves When Creating a Project Timeline and Time, Budgets & Luxury Any project without a timeline is a project destined to never get done, or at least not this year. Budget zero? Well, it’ll be really hard to get a website up, but there are some places you can create a free site. These options will make it super apparent that you are using the free one because you don’t have a domain and their company branding is all over your website. Because of this it can be a good start, but you’ll want to move on quickly. Budget and timeline become even more important when working with professionals. The benefit is they will help you determine what kind of help you can get and in what time-frame.

If you have these five basics planned when you start creating your website you will be setting yourself up for success. I like success and I’m sure you do to, so make sure to spend the time putting some basic info together for each of these. Even if you are just wanting a quote, any designer giving you a good quote will need these items and possibly a few more details specific to your site in order to publish it completely. 

23 Feb 2019
3 Steps to Grow Your Brand Peterman Design Firm Blog

3 Steps to Grow Your Brand

So, you’ve got your brand. It’s beautiful, you love it, it resonates with your customers, and most of the time, your designer has walked away. Now you want to build your brand from just the core that it is now and get it out there. Some people will tell you that “building your brand” isn’t necessary, mostly people who want to sell you advertising. Others will tell you that your brand needs to grow your brand and build a presence with it, mostly people who do branding or social media work. I personally believe both are needed, it isn’t just about advertising to build your brand and there’s more to it than just designing a cool brand. So let’s discuss a couple ways to grow your brand and why they are beneficial.

Create Content – Number one most important thing is to create content and not just any content, some combination of useful and entertaining content. You can do this a number of ways, from blogging to posting on social media, to podcasts, and more. Just find the right places that you enjoy sharing your content and start getting it out there. I’d recommend that if you do hire this out you have a very comprehensive conversation with whoever is doing it to make sure the “voice” they use matches or is close to your own and matches your company brand. Content is great because it can be what you give away for free, attracts new and interested customers, and keeps you relevant, as well as being great for SEO when used properly.

Engage – Just posting on your Facebook page doesn’t cut it any more, in fact I don’t think it ever did, people just somehow got it in there head that posting on social media means people will magically see what they post. You need to get your brand out there, interact with current, future, and past customers. Engage on forums, different social media platforms, answering questions, putting out valuable and relatable content that your customers are interested in. None of this is to sell, just to provide value and get your name out there. This will get you found by people you might never reach with advertising and shows that you are actually interested in what you do, not just there to make money.

Build Referrals & Partnerships – You can do this through your customer base and through networking with other people and companies to build your own referral network. Building partnerships is also a great way to get your brand to grow. Finding an established company who’s willing to partner with you can give your own brand a lot of strength as people will see you with a known brand. Keep in mind when you do this that you are only attaching your name to companies whose brand aligns with yours and who you know won’t damage your brand. This is a long term reward process and you may not see this paying out for a couple years, but I know several companies who started super small and because they invested heavily in referrals and partnerships now do basically no marketing or advertising because they have a constant stream of business from their customer referrals and other partnerships. This also gets your brand out there through real people, which often carries more weight than other ways.

If you follow these three steps to building your brand you’ll find your brand growing as quickly as you want it to. A brand is important and it’s just as important that you grow it after you have it.

30 Dec 2017
5 Stages of Product Development Peterman Design Firm Blog

5 Stages of Product Development You Need to Know

We’ve talked a lot about how product development is a process, but what does it really mean? What is this seemingly mysterious process that every product goes through at least part of? When most people have an idea, they think it’s completely out of reach for them to bring their idea to life. It’s not, it just takes finding the right partner who can navigate you through the process of developing an idea into a product that will help people and make you money. What could be a better result of your hard work? Here I’d like to lay out the overall process of Product Development. This example is generic to make sure you learn about each area of the process so you have an understanding of  everything your product designer must be able to help you with for it to be worth your time and money to hire them.

Step 1 – Invent

  • The very, very first step in Product Development is having an idea. Millions of ideas are generated every day by people all over the world. This is probably the “easiest” part. Everything after this point takes making decisions and taking timely action. While you have the first idea, you also need a Product Developer who has ideas and can generate new ones that will help support your idea on its path to becoming a successful product.
  • Once you have an idea, whether you do this first or with your Product Developer, you should validate the idea and determine its market. Is there a need for the product and does it solve a problem are two very important questions. Then, who would use this product? Does it help seniors, children, cubical workers, sports teams, or someone else? This helps you and your developer to understand what needs to be designed into the product, and what shouldn’t be in the product to appeal to your best market.
  • If you can, make a mock-up of the product. Get the hot-glue out and make some models. Or sketch, even if you think it’s the worst sketch in the world. In some cases, your idea is so far out there it’s hard to communicate, or easy enough that you can grab a couple images from the internet and say, combine these three things and make it orange! This is your first prototype, and it’s just a concept one. Take your idea to your Product Developer and have them create concept artwork and possibly a physical conceptual prototype, if you have the budget.

Step 2 – Develop

  • You need an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) if you are going to ever think about getting a patent. Protecting your idea is important, even if you don’t patent. This is also the time, after you’ve gotten some concept artwork from your Product Developer, to think about involving a patent attorney, or at least getting a provisional patent, if it makes sense. Either way, a free consultation with a lawyer who’s singed an NDA will let you know what you should do. Your Product Developer should have at least one referral for you on this. It’s also worth your time for your developer to do a patent search now so you know if there are going to be hurdles that could stop your project.
  • Now it’s time to design your product. Taking your starting concepts, those should be expanded upon and developed into a product that meets your needs, follows your scope, and can be prototyped. This takes it from a rough idea (with possibly some pretty renderings that have no grounding in reality) to (usually) a 3D CAD model or other models closer to a tangible state. Some things, like soft-goods, usually don’t go into 3D, but have more accurate renderings created that show what the product will look like.
  • Once the design has been solidified to meet the requirements of the product, it’s time to get the first real prototype. Initial prototypes may not work completely the first time (in fact they rarely do) but this is where the idea becomes tangible and closer to its final form.

Step 3 – Validate

  • Using the first prototype, and others after it, we begin to validate the design. Does it work, how well does it work, where does it break, what do we like and not like about it? All of these questions are asked, the prototype is reviewed, and revisions are made. This can be the longest part of product development.
  • Testing can be done in many ways, and can include hiring outside testing companies. This also gives the opportunity to get certain stamps or approval markings, such as the UL rating for electronics. Those companies should be involved early on so changes are made earlier in the process to complete the certifications and tests needed for each product’s industry.
  • The last thing your Product Developer can put together is a panel test or survey. Paying people to review your product, under NDA of course, can give you some great outside feedback from people who are not invested in the idea, and haven’t watched the entire process. This type of input can be made at any stage of the process, though better results are usually had when there is a tangible and working prototype.

Step 4 – Produce

  • You have a final design, it’s been prototyped, validated, patented, the whole 9 yards. Now, the final design stage is here. Design for manufacturability takes your final design and makes all the tweaks and adjustments that are needed for full production. Often prototypes start out as  things that would be hard to mass manufacture, and costing is a huge portion of this. Your product developer will be looking for ways to make parts lighter, stronger, or use off the shelf components if that’s what is desired.
  • You have two options now, the first is getting funded. This is usually the next step as full manufacturing can be very expensive. Prototyping has the advantage of using advanced technologies such as 3D printing to accelerate and decrease costs. Full manufacturing usually costs thousands to millions of dollars, depending on how many units you need for a first run, and how complicated your product is. A fidget spinner didn’t take much to manufacture the first thousand units, but the iPhone cost millions of dollars and needed to have tens of thousands of units made in its first run.
  • The second option is licensing. Instead of trying to get an investor, or putting your own money into producing a product, you can look to sell your IP (Intellectual Property) to an interested 3rd party who maybe has an established business in your chosen market, and would rather buy the idea from you than spend the development time to create a new product. You as an individual working with a Product Developer is much more agile and cost effective than a huge company with massive overhead costs just to keep the lights on.

Step 5 – Profit

  • If you license, then you are done! Money has been made and you can set off on thinking of your next great idea! If you don’t license, the next big step to making money is marketing. While Product Developers usually don’t help from here on, the good ones have partners or referrals that they can send you to for developing your marketing strategy. Website, branding, logos, names, advertising, it all falls under this. Everything you brought to your Product Developer to bring the product to life you should bring to your marketers too. They’ll need to know the who, what, and why to provide you the best resources and chance of success.
  • There are lots of options for selling your product, from strictly Amazon, to selling at shows and conventions, or a local Saturday market. Between your marketer and Product Developer, you should have some options of who to talk to about which direction you should take.
  • Now it’s time to ship your product and have the money come in. Good job!

While it is very hard to guarantee that your product will be a wild success, I can promise that every successful product followed a path similar, if not exact, to what I’ve outlined here. Meeting with a good Product Developer is key to navigating, and possibly being able to skip over some of these steps, which means following the most efficient and cost-effective path possible.

08 Dec 2017

5 Reasons You Need a Product Developer

If you’ve ever taken a product into production you’d agree there are many things that need to be taken care of. People who do this for a living are Product Developers. Most people are familiar with what an engineer is, some people know what an industrial designer is, but unless you have spent time in the product development world, you’ve probably never heard of a product developer as a single person. In the middle ground between design and engineering, there are a set of people who can take an idea and turn it into a product almost by themselves. When you are launching a new product (and especially if you have never been through the process before) you need one of these people on your team. You need someone who understands manufacturing requirements and engineering specifications. Someone who can talk to and help bring on engineers, designers, and other vendors. Product developers come from many backgrounds, and have all kinds of titles. Here are 5 reasons you need a Product Developer instead of just an engineer or industrial designer.

  • They can handle almost everything an engineer can, which saves you money and time, letting you only deal with one person.
  • It’s more cost and time effective for a business to hire a single Product Developer rather than put a team together themselves. Good Product Developers know when to bring on engineers and any specialists that might be needed for a project.
  • They understand the whole process of turning a concept into a product, not just a portion of the process. They can handle everything from concept generation to vendor selection and management.
  • Product Developers bring experience across many industries and job roles to be able to bring a product to life. The breadth of experience Product Developers have is what makes them Product Developers, not just an engineer or designer.
  • Great Product Developers have the connections to bring your product into reality. They know the manufacturers, prototype companies, patent lawyers, and other vendors an idea needs to become a manufactured product. Having a great team of experts available to your project is crucial to finishing your project on budget and in time.

When talking to designers and engineers, make sure that you find yourself a Product Developer. It’ll save you time, money, and put someone on your side that will help you navigate the world of bringing a product into reality.

22 Nov 2017

3 Must Haves When Creating a Project Timeline

Timelines. We all need them, but even the best of us don’t get them right every time. How do we create realistic timelines that don’t sound outrageous? Well, it all depends on who is looking at them. Experienced designers can usually look at a project and have a pretty good idea on how long a project might take to design with barely any thought and be right. For a non-designer to make that same estimate is nearly impossible, I’ve trained sales people on how to sell Industrial Design, and it took a lot of training to get someone unfamiliar with this process to be able to accurately quote a timeframe for a project.
There is no magic formula that lets anyone estimate a project as well as a seasoned designer, I’ve looked. And almost any schedule is possible, if you have the funds to pay for it. There are a few things that you should always make sure are known before discussing a timeline. If a designer gives you a timeline and is missing one of these elements, then their estimate will probably be off.

  • Fully Defined Scope of Work. We’ve gone over this previously here, but it really is very important that before you get a timeline from a designer, or before you begin to create your own, you know exactly everything that is going to go into and come out of the project.
  • Response Time from You, the Client. Any good designer can estimate how long they will take to respond, but did they specify how quickly they expect a response from you? When they wrote the timeline, they might have assumed you would be responding within two days, but maybe you have such a busy schedule that it will take at least a week or more before you can review a design that was sent to you. This expectation is very important, and can derail a timeline quickly.
  • Project Hours. This is how long the designer says they are going to take to make the project happen. This gives you the number of hours that will be worked, but not over what duration. This number is also something that unless you have design experience that matches the designer you are hiring, is not a point that is very arguable.

If you and your designer have these three items, then a viable timeline can be created by the designer. It’s always good to give them your gut feeling on this, we prefer our clients give us an idea of what they think it should take. Remember, everything is negotiable as long as you only choose two of the iron triangle to be fixed. Time, Quality, and Cost make up the iron triangle. You can have a fast and high-quality project, but the cost will not be controllable. So, choose wisely which two you care about the most.
Our experience with delays is that a lot of time is lost in getting responses from clients on a revision. While a project may have started out with a one week response time for each revision, when that gets pushed to one and a half weeks, and there are a total of 10 revision points through different phases of a project, that’s an extra 5 weeks on a project that should have only taken say 15 weeks to complete, which makes for a 30% increase in your timeline. No one likes that kind of increase.

27 Oct 2017

3 Things You Need Before Hiring a Designer

I’ve been working with clients for over a decade, and I’ve found that there are three things I’m always asking for. Every Industrial Designer would love you to have ready for them before talking to them about your project.
1. Have a budget. I know, a lot of people new to product design don’t know what a reasonable budget is, and I get a lot of potential clients asking ‘how much does this cost’? Well, there is no simple answer. The amount of money you put in is directly associated with what you get out of it, to a certain point. I can spend 30 hours and get a quick product design done, I’ve done it, and a lot of other designers have too, or I can spend 120 hours and have an amazing design solution that everyone loves. If I asked a room of people, many would go for the cheapest design possible, but is that what you really want? The average product design, start to finish, is an 80-200 hour process depending on the product. And no, that doesn’t include vehicle sized products. Average hourly rates range from $80-$250 an hour depending on how much experience the designer has, the industry, and if it’s an agency. Keep in mind, top agencies run more around $500-$1000 an hour. As a design firm, we like to work on a by project rate as it keeps things simple and up front for our clients. An average project is about $10,000 for a full design, concept to manufacturing packet. So be upfront about what you expect in price, and timeline. If it’s unreasonable, we’ll tell you.
2. Know your why. So, you have a great product idea, or even redesigning a product. But why? Why are you creating this product, what problem does it solve, how does it help people? If your first answer is ‘because I’d use it’, then we should do some market research to make sure . Working with start-ups and entrepreneurs a lot, I’ve come across some amazing ideas that almost no one would use. Knowing your why helps us to tell your story through the product. People get behind products that have a great story and makes their life easier.
3. Know your market. We’ll do some market research at the start of the project, unless you come to a designer with a full market strategy, SWOT analysis, and information on the competitions products. But whether we do it or you do it, you should at least have a basic understanding of who you are marketing the product to. It guides us if we do the research, and it helps us with the design of the product. You might have an awesome product idea, but maybe it works for two very different markets, like babies and seniors! (look at diapers, both age groups use it, but the product is designed very differently for each market) Knowing who we are designing for, their budget, lifestyle, and age to name a few metrics, helps us create a product they will use, and you can sell successfully.
 
Some of you might notice that I didn’t say have an idea anywhere in there. While most people think that they need to have a product idea already before they talk to a designer, that isn’t the case with great designers. When looking at a product idea, what we really look at is the problem it is solving. We design to solve the problem, fixing a pain point in someone’s life. Maybe that pain point is not hearing the best audio possible, or maybe it’s not wanting to cobble together your own product, or maybe it’s a problem you see frequently for people you interact with. Industrial Design is about solving problems, and we’re happy to work with you whether you have a product idea, or just want to solve a problem but don’t have any idea how to.

Connect with us to turn your idea into reality.