There are many projects that linger for years in what is called development hell. You have a great idea, but it can’t go any further than this. It might be an idea identified in research that no one can figure out how to build. Or it may be a fantastic idea no one can monetize. A surprising number of products sit on the drawing board or the designer’s shelf as a prototype that they just couldn’t get to market. Here are a few tips for getting from R&D to reality.
Design For Manufacturability
Many products don’t make it to production because it can’t be cheaply or easily mass produced. They may design a beautiful item, but it can’t be made in mass because it relies on difficult to acquire materials or parts. The solution is to integrate affordable off-the-shelf components into the design everywhere possible. Some products don’t hit mass production because they cannot be easily mass produced. This is where design for assembly by machines or low skill workers is essential. That may force you to change the design so that it can be assembled via pick and place machines or machine holding instead of more labor-intensive processes. And that means that moving from prototype to end product may require changes to the design though you have a good, working version already.
Do Market Research
It isn’t enough to know that your customers would appreciate a product like the one you’re making. Verify that the design is one they appreciate enough to pay for. Have them test it and give you feedback. If it isn’t ergonomic, they will literally tire of it and get rid of it, and they will warn others not to buy it. Is it convenient to use? The ideal design is intuitive, while anything that requires complex operating instructions is a turn-off. The only exception is if the device saves so much time and money or literally saves lives that they’re willing to do the complex setup. For example, people won’t follow complex instructions to set something up on a daily basis, but they may do so for a security system or smart home network that makes the rest of their life easier.
In your market research, find out what features they value and which they don’t. You can typically improve the product by removing the nice-to-have features while retaining the essential characteristics. And for your first generation of the product, focus on getting the core features right. The minimally viable product will start selling and generating revenue. You can always offer a fancier version as a later upgrade. But you won’t waste time and effort adding more features and risking never getting the product off the ground.
Understand The Business Model & Product Impact
What is your business model? Your product has to fit the business model. For example, if you are going to sell it on retail shelves, understand that the shelf space commands a premium. Minimize the size of the package. Will you be shipping direct to the customer via the mail? Try to get a product that fits in standard shipping boxes while having adequate protection to arrive intact at the destination. Are you selling to businesses that will use the end product? Provide whatever documentation and certifications they require of the items they use.