Where to designers fit into the puzzle?

I had an interesting thought on where designers fit in a project team, and how it effects the direction the project will take. To illustrate my idea I will illustrate 3 different scenarios and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Scenario 1
Often times there is a lot of emphasis on an end user in some design studios, which makes sense, they ARE the people who are going to be experiencing the final product. But is it possible to be so in favor of the end user to the point where sacrifices are being made in the team? An example of this may be that our End User needs to have an enormous battery life on his portable battery, but doing so makes the cost significantly higher than before. Although this may not be a bad thing as long as Jim is willing to pay for it, this scenario suggests that an End User will lead, and the Product Team will follow. An advantage is that we know that there are people who are already interested in this idea, but it also may lead to predictable results. If we solely rely on an End User’s input to determine our final design we may lack specific unique features that give us a unique product.

industrial-designer-role-enduser-skew

 

Scenario 2
Okay so let’s say that the Product Team wants to have the main control, maybe we have been making portable batteries for years and we know what we are doing. In this scenario instead of providing an End User with the ultimate say, we want to create something new. This is a scenario where the Product Team leads and the End User follows, they adapt the unique feature or idea that we implement based on our own ideas. This may lead to a big win where everyone loves it, but it may also mean that we have missed something obvious that the End User would have liked.

industrial-designer-role-product-skew

 

Scenario 3
It may seem obvious where I am going at this point, but its important to note that a balanced scenario does not mean that we always stay in the middle. I see this as a back and fourth between the End User and the Product Team on certain decisions. For example the End User would be a good place to see what kind of colours we should offer our portable battery in. But in terms of the shape and form, this may be something that is best handled with a skew toward the Product Team. Also, having a skew to one end doesn’t mean that we completely shut off the other side either, it just suggests a slight emphasis in where the main direction is being controlled.

industrial-designer-role-balanced

Ultimately all three Scenarios are going to occur during a design development, but I believe that it is important to understand at which points you are giving power to one side over the other. A healthy design usually carries a collection of both sides, and if one side is lacking it shows in the outcome.

 

Anyways, that’s the end of that shower thought.

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