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Designing to please September 30, 2009

Posted by Nii Sai Sai in Design Thinking.

Design Thinking


Ultimately, the most relevant test for a successful product design is how usable and consequently impactful the product is to the users who need it the most. Edison was very sensitive to the needs of the people he hoped would benefit from his inventions. I just bought an iPhone, and so far I’ve been a very satisfied customer. It is extremely intuitive, and is by far the best phone I’ve used to date. I am sure lots of perspiration went into creating such a ‘cool’ product.


This summer I built a prototype of a software system for my employer. While building the prototype, I constantly wrestled with how functional the prototype had to be before I presented it to potential users. It would have been a much more productive process had I focused more on getting regular feedback from people during the prototyping process.  Another lesson from my summer project is that enough time and focus must be devoted to the prototyping process, and iteration must be the rule of thumb. The right people who understand the need or problem should be actively engaged in the iterative process of designing a solution.


A valuable piece of advice I noted down from the readings is that as much as having first-mover advantage is great, it is more important to have a ‘first-pleaser’ product which is designed to meet the needs of the target user, as well as stimulate them emotionally. I kept myself from buying an iPhone for over a year, mainly because I was already under contract with my mobile carrier, but I was definitely eyeing the product because it appealed to me in both dimensions of functionality and coolness.


Finally, it is very important for design teams to be made up of people from different disciplines, and who have different approaches to innovation as well as styles of learning.



1. Sara Beckman - November 28, 2009

I like the “first-pleaser” versus “first-mover” notion!
Your learning about prototyping is also important – prototypes play different roles. They can be used to test technical feasibility, to provide a platform for integration of a team’s work, … and they can be used to obtain real-time feedback from customers. When you are designing prototypes, it is helpful to consider which of these goals is most important, as it can dictate the ways in which you create the prototypes.

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