Product Considerations

Considerations in Developing & Designing Your Product

There are a few product considerations to address before designing your prototype. One very important consideration is cost. Sometimes a design can appear to look terrific but, is not realistic from a cost standpoint to manufacture. It could be that you have a great looking design that works very well but, it would take so many parts to function, that the expense to make it, would put it out of reach for your targeted consumers.

The bottom line is that you want to check your design for compatibility to the market, to consumer price tolerance, to the manufacturer’s ability to produce it, and finally, to your bank account. Profit is not a dirty word. If the manufacturer can’t make a profit on your design, as good as it may be, they won’t want to produce it. Or at least, they won’t want to be licensed to produce it.

A perfect design would be a simple one that uses the least resources, is the easiest to manufacture, allows for a reasonable profit margin, light in weight to ship, and everyone needs one. Wouldn’t that be great? Well, that’s a hard list to meet but you’d like to get as close to that as possible. Some may think that a functioning design will trump all other concerns; not so unless of course, your product has no competition or is used on the Mars Lander.

As an example of function vs. cost; I invented this great tool for lifting differential gear carriers out of military style axles. It works great. It lifts over 1000 lbs with no problems and rolls out from under the truck, saving the mechanic a day or two of removing springs and all the rest. BUT, it has about 100 parts, weighs a couple hundred pounds, and I think all 3 people that could use this tool wouldn’t be able to afford it.

So, in the garage it sits for me to use on my own truck…period. So although it’s a great design and, it works very well therefore, saving me lots of time, it doesn’t fit all the other requirements to make for a successfully marketed product.

Bottom line? Consider all aspects of a product and design it accordingly. Keep your eye on the ball and don’t get lost in the thought of “just making it work”.

Will Your Design be Appreciated?

white tiger hugging man

Ask Yourself Some Questions - Think it Through

Aristotle was quoted as saying; “Nothing is that which rocks think about.” Don’t be rock. It’s a wise practice to think your product through. Don’t go blindly into the design process without a plan.

When you’re designing a product you have to consider all the variables, not just the ones that make it look good, or, that make it function. Although appearance and function are two very important factors, they can’t be your only concern. You want to design a product with all the variables in mind. So, what are the variables? Let’s look at a few.


Is There a Need?

Variable 1: Is there a need? – Ask yourself; Who is going to want your product? Who is going to care when it hits the market? Will anyone care besides your mom? Family members are sometimes the worst one’s to ask. Of course they’re going to tell you they’d buy one. They might even go so far as to tell you that, “they know at least 50 people that would buy it right now.”  Do yourself a favor and do some research into how many people there are in your demographic or target.

Maybe it’s a great product. But how many people are going to need it? You could also ask yourself; how many people are going to want it? Need and want are two entirely different things. I need a toothbrush but I want a chrome plated, neon toothbrush that glows in the dark. One works, the other might be more fun. Either one will sell as long as there’s enough people that want it, don’t you think?

What About Cost?

Variable 2: Cost – It’s important to consider how much your product will cost to produce and, how much are people willing to pay to get their hands on your product? You have to be able to make the product for about 1/4 or less of what you’re going to sell it for. The bottom line? What are people willing to pay for your product? It may be a great, really cool product but no one’s willing to pull out their wallet for it. The consumer will admire it, but walk on by due to price.

It has to be affordable and desirable. How can it be affordable? By not costing too much to manufacture. Pretty straight forward right?

cost of manufacturing to be considered in design
Is it Economical to Manufacture?
manufacturing costs

Variable 3: Manufacturing – You want to come up with an idea that can be made using an existing manufacturing process, and, for a reasonable price.

It’s sort of like remodeling your house. You can build just about anything you want. It’s called, “Instant house, just add money.” If you’re not going to worry about getting your money back when you sell the house, and you only want to enjoy your vision, then it doesn’t matter how much you put into the project. But, spec homes, where the contractor buys the land and puts a house on it with the intention of selling it, he’s got to worry about cost-to-value comparison if he wants to make a profit.  He also has to use current building practices.

If you’re an inventor, and you want to sell your product, this applies to you.

Does it do What it's Supposed to do? Does it Work?

Variable 4: Does it actually Work? –  We’ve all seen the Rube Goldberg machines that are unnecessarily complicated with too many parts and extra operations or motions, to do an otherwise simple job. Well? How does your product stack up against this consideration? Is it no more complex than it needs to be?

Be sure your model isn’t just lofty thought. Does it work for what it’s intended to do? Is it necessary? I don’t need a machine to put a piece of toast in the toaster. Make sure what you’re making is a “necessary need” and that your demographic is large enough to support it.

complex mechanism will it work
What is Your Product Made of ?
steel product design

Variable 5: Product Material – Is your product made from steel, aluminum, plastic, or even wood maybe? All of these have different manufacturing and design requirements. Different materials expand or contract at different temperatures and rates. This is important in clearances between parts for proper functioning.

The environment that your product will live in can be important as well. Will it be inside a house, outside in the snow, under water maybe? These questions may seem natural and obvious to think about, but surprisingly, they’re not always taken into consideration.


“Failure is the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.”  Henry Ford