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Overview of The Product Design Brief

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

Asking a designer or a design team to embark on a product development without a clear written brief is a bit like building a house without any plans - you are quite likely to get something which does not meet your expectations. The product design brief is essentially a list of requirements as set out by the inventor or client which the product, when designed, must fulfill. It should be informed by all of the research that the inventor will have already done in terms of competitor products, target markets, consumer research, IP searches, suppliers, routes to market, etc. The elements of the design brief are:


Introduction:

This sets out the background to the product idea and gives an overview of what the market need is and how the product should fill that need. Keep it brief and to the point.


Aesthetics:

Aesthetics is commonly known as the study of sensory or sensory-emotional values which are also sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. With most products the initial interaction with the user or consumer is visual followed by a sensory experience when they touch and feel the product. Often this entire experience takes only seconds during which time an emotional attachment to, or detachment from the product is made. The main elements of aesthetic appeal which we must consider at the design brief stage are colour, texture and materials.


Size, Shape and Weight

The size and shape of the product to a large extent determine where, how and by whom it will be used. The weight of the product determines its portability and the height range it can be used within. The target audience and the intended method of sale should be included in the design brief.


Ergonomics

As a simple definition we could consider ergonomics as the science of making things comfortable and efficient. Thus, in terms of product development, the product should be both comfortable to use and efficient in the manner in which it performs its function. For the purpose of the design brief, we consider ergonomics in three facets: functionality, maintenance, and safety.


Cost

In theory the market price of the product should not affect the production cost insofar as the market determines the price it is willing to pay based on the product attributes compared to its competitors and the perceived value for money (see ‘Your Product Price Point is Independent of Cost'). Customers and end users do not know how much a product costs to make and don't really care - they are more interested in the benefits is offers them and if it represents value for money. It is important to consider the target production cost as it will have an big effect on the approach that the design team takes.


Value Added Tax - VAT

If the goods are manufactured outside the EU VAT is paid at the point of entry in the case of goods being imported from China. In the US VAT does not exist but other import duties and tariffs levied on foreign imports are paid at the port of entry to the country. Once VAT is paid in one EU country the goods can be moved freely within the EU without attracting further VAT. However, import duty upon entry to the EU is also applicable at the port of entry and this varies considerably depending on the product, country of origin, and country of import.


Packaging

Although at the outset it may seem that the design of the packaging is a long way off, it should be included in the design brief as it forms an integral part of the consumer experience and has a number of practical functions including offering protection to the product during transit and while it is displayed at the point of sale.


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The Product Design Brief



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