The Power of Design Integrity and how you can 2x your Success against your competition

Design Integrity and how it can be maintained throughout the development lifecycle is what we explore here. Often, we see young and excited design teams announce new products with a marketing campaign peppered with renders and animations. Several months down the line, either the product hasn’t seen the light of day, or the finished product is a distant cousin of its render, identifiable only by trace design elements like the logo and product name.

This problem doesn’t discriminate between inexperienced startups incorporated 2 days ago and business behemoths with dozens of product lines. What is it about maintaining the original design throughout the product development process that’s so challenging? Let’s explore what Design Integrity is and how it can be maintained throughout the development lifecycle.

What is design integrity?

A typical product development lifecycle is as follows — research, design, engineer and manufacture. The design phase is when most changes happen to the product. The outer shell, surfaces and curves, features and functions, colors and finishes, interactions and experiences — all have to be determined here. Design Integrity is ensuring that little to no changes happen to the product after this stage.

It is minimizing the quantity and impact of changes to the product after the design is finalized. It is maintaining the designer’s intent throughout the product’s development. It embodies the essence of a product’s original vision, ensuring that it remains consistent from conception to completion. Design integrity encompasses the seamless combination of visual appeal, effective functionality, and a user-centric approach.

Maintaining design integrity across disciplines: design, engineering, and manufacturing

Design integrity thrives when there is effective collaboration and communication among design, engineering, and manufacturing teams. Here are some essential practices to preserve design integrity throughout the entire product development lifecycle. To learn more about design for manufacturing which is a different topic all together, read this well written article here.

1. Designers who understand engineering

Designers fantasize about a world in which an undercut is a new boxing move and flow lines are a rapper’s lyrics. Unfortunately, these are very real issues faced in injection molding that engineers should account for, will most certainly cause changes to the design and compromise design integrity. A designer who understands engineering and manufacturing can ensure such issues are avoided by thinking ahead, anticipating these issues and mitigating them. A factory visit does wonders for new designers who lack awareness of manufacturing methods.

2. Engineers who understand design

Engineers have a highly risk averse mentality and hence add a lot of rounded edges and large drafts with enough internal room for a hurricane to pass through and cool any internals. Thankfully, it isn’t all up to engineers and hence, products have personalities and are user friendly.

An engineer who understands design can work with the design team to maintain designers’ intent by suggesting minimal impact solutions to engineering and manufacturing problems that the design team may have overlooked. Taking engineers through a couple of design workshops and divergent thinking models can loosen them up and introduce them to the wide world of design.

3. Early collaboration

Encourage open dialogue and collaboration between designers, engineers, and manufacturers from the outset. By involving all stakeholders in the design process, potential conflicts or compromises can be addressed proactively, instead of after the product idea has been sold to clients and investors.

Asking each team to prepare a list of constraints that affect their function and then finding common grounds can be a smooth way of resolving potential conflicts. At Analogy, we involve designers and engineers in internal reviews meetings held during all stages of the project. If in doubt, collaborate early, collaborate often.

4. Clear design brief

Establish a comprehensive design brief that outlines the project’s objectives, target audience, and desired user experience. This document serves as a reference point to ensure design integrity is maintained throughout the development process. This document is a living document and should be updated on a frequent basis. Refer this document during stakeholder meetings to keep the design project on track with the goals set at the start.

5. Iterative prototyping

Iterative prototyping allows for continuous refinement and validation of the design concept. Regular feedback loops involving designers and engineers ensure that design changes are implemented while maintaining the integrity of the original vision. Different prototyping techniques bring to light different engineering and manufacturing constraints.

To simulate injection molding, one can use resin pouring and understand tool design. Clever use of a dremel and a drilling machine can mimic subtractive manufacturing methods. Iterative prototyping, done from the very start of the project can help avoid U turns in promises made to clients, customers and investors and set the right expectations.

Design integrity plays a pivotal role in creating exceptional products. It requires a harmonious collaboration between design, engineering, and manufacturing teams, fostering open communication and iterative development. By upholding design integrity, we can achieve products that embody both aesthetic appeal and functional excellence, while satisfying requirements of all stakeholders.

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