Whiteboard Wednesday – Develop an Idea

Turn an idea into a product

Watch this video to understand how to develop an idea. The video explains in detail the process involved when developing an idea, useful tips and how this fits with electronic development, branding and protecting your Intellectual property.

Whiteboard Wednesday – 

How to Develop a New Product

So, this video is all about how to turn a new idea into a marketable product. It’s really a journey that I’ve developed over the last 12 years of running a product design agency to be specifically orientated to support start-ups on a relatively tight budget to develop and turn their new ideas into something they can sell. This is the overall process.

It might look quite complicated but please do watch until the end of the video there’s some really key information throughout the whole of this video on how you can minimize your time frame for development and how you can minimize your overall cost as well.

Project Feasibility
So, without further ado let’s get stuck in so this bit at the top here is really the feasibility part of a new project and it’s absolutely critical. I always think the more time you spend here the better otherwise you might send your whole project off in the wrong direction and then if you change direction later on it’s going to cost you way more in money, effort, time and that’s not really a great result. 

So, invest in this bit is critical now the main things you’re probably going to want to look at are technical feasibility if you don’t know whether your idea is actually going to be possible reverse engineering if you’ve already got a product that you want to basically, take apart and then rework to improve either from a margin perspective or a durability perspective or a functionality perspective.

Finally, you might actually not know that the solution you’re looking at is the right solution you might want to do an innovation workshop with some creative designers to see what other options are there before I dig into to my solution. 

Concept Development
So, once you’ve kind of done all of that and also developed a really good project brief then that’s the time to get some concept development done it might be something you can do in-house might be that you need to employ an external product design agency to take all this information and then turn it into the right kind of concept.

I’m assuming by the way that you’ve already got market insight or you wouldn’t be doing this process but if you haven’t it’s also worth trying to talk to your target market at that stage to get market insights you’re developing something that you’re the people are going to buy your product actually want various ways of doing that you don’t actually have to reveal your confidential idea to get some market insight. 

So maybe you come up with a new moses basket for example for new-born babies well you could just do a general questionnaire or some focus groups with a whole load of new mums about their experiences of using moses baskets with their babies you don’t have to tell them that you’ve got amazing new moses basket that I don’t know is going to rock the baby to sleep automatically and manage the environment the humidity automatically or have a heart rate monitor built in or whatever else you have to give away that kind of idea, but what you can do is just ask them in general what they want, what features they feel are lacking what they’re worried about when their babies in the moses basket that kind of thing, but that could give you really interesting insight and help you steer the project direction to be something that people really want to buy. 

So, once you’ve done all of that into the concept development stage this is where things like ergonomics and styling and potential ways of performing your unique functionality can be looked at by a skilled product designer to create a concept that you can then take further forward. It might be best to look at two or three concepts or it might be you’ve got a very clear idea and really that time’s best then further developing one particular concept

Once that’s done again you might want to go back to your target market at that point at this stage if you’re showing them sketches and things you’re going to want to look at, how you can protect that concept often that’s best done under a confidentiality agreement but you might want to file an early stage patent or registered design to protect it. Reasons why that might not be the best plan and do check out my intellectual property video or my patenting videos so you can actually learn at what point is best the patent and what the downsides are of finding pattern protection too early, but the critical thing really I think is to get some feedback from your target market so you make sure you’re constantly designing for your consumer not for yourself. 

You might want to build a basic physical model that might just be out of card it might be out of disassembled other products just to prove the basic concepts and actually start having something tangible that you can play with and test and go well actually it needs to be a bit bigger here or this doesn’t feel quite right or it doesn’t fit where it needs to or whatever it is and it might be also that styling is really critical to your brand and to your new product
launch and therefore that’s actually really important. You might want to look at mood boards and potential materials and all that kind of thing then we get into design for prototyping.

Design for Prototyping
This really is where we’re tying down all of the details that we possibly can at this stage so this might be done using computer aided design if you have a hard plastic product or a tpu an elastomer based product if you’ve got a textile based product this often isn’t best done with computer-aided design but instead it’s often done with digitally enhanced detailed sketch work because that’s often much more cost effective than trying to create a computer aided design virtual model of a soft product. Either way you’ve got to get to a point where you’ve got a much more detailed concept before you then go into physical prototyping and this really is where the kind of iterative design process takes over so it’s really about prototyping testing and confirming it with your market prototype refinement reviewing where you’re at and whether it’s all functioning correctly whether you’re happy with all the ergonomics of it all that kind of thing and potentially you might end up going around this loop two or three times to get the right product out the end of it. Some companies go through 10, 12, 20 even loops around this process to refine their product before they move it forward often if you’re a small start-up business you know you haven’t got the budget to be able to do that so you’re going to want to work with a design agency that works very efficiently so you can get this done maybe in two or three iterative development loops and then you can crack on.

Design for Manufacture
We’re getting into the final stages of development now these stages really are where you take this prototype that’s developed and tested and is the right solution and you’re preparing it for manufacture so you probably want to find a manufacturer create a manufacturing specification finalize the design refine it where possible to make it more cost effective for mass production and then you’ll be ready to go into production it’s worth saying that in my company we actually often work with the manufacturer much earlier on so if they’ve got any particular processes or materials or whatever they want to use I think it would be really good that we include that early there is challenges with that it’s not are willing to do that but if you can I think it can pay huge dividends to involve the manufacturer earlier in this process.


Now there are three other streams running alongside the core product development process and these are the kind of:
IP Protection
Ip protection which includes patenting maybe registered designs and if you’ve got a brand you might want to bring in trademarks as well to protect your ip this is roughly where they fit within the process do watch my patenting video which will go through the timings within the product development journey that makes sense for you in terms of your patent applications.
Electronics
Electronics runs roughly alongside product development so once the concepts defined you’re going to want to start defining the electronics brief and the functionality and then you’re into a prototype loop with your electronics um as well to test and refine that functionality button positions brightness’s of LEDs screen types all of that kind of stuff and once tested and confirmed again you’re then going to go through a process where that’s productionized and made ready for mass production there’s quite a lot of certification testing that goes on with electronic c marking testing in terms of interference all that kind of stuff needs to happen emc testing and then when all of that’s done again that’s then ready to mass manufacture.
Branding
The final stream that runs alongside your product development journey is branding now this really depends on the product. If your product is all about the look and the feel and your brand is all about the aesthetic then this probably needs to take quite a place and start very early on in the process so brand direction probably needs to happen alongside concept work brand concepts and things will feed into your styling phase, they all need to be done around the same time. Packaging might be critical as well to your overall look and feel and customer experience and again you know in which case get packaging concept work and prototypes and that kind of thing to start and run alongside the prototyping of your product now equally it might be that this isn’t too important and your product is more about the functionality or the technology and in which case this can often shift much more towards the end of the overall process.
So that gives you a really good overview of the whole process I suggest you watch my patenting video right now because that gives you insight into how to save money in your patenting process and also when within this journey is best to file your patents for you and your project.