Tag: Problem Solving

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.