How close is the relationship between the design team and the customer? What can be done to nurture and strengthen this relationship?
It is crucial for the design team to have a close relationship with the customer in order to fully understand their needs and create a successful product. In many cases, we have to look to the future together and help our customers to build their product pipeline, to scale up, and to create their own roadmap.
Occasionally, our customer’s vision may change during the design and development process. For example, a startup may pivot in a different direction based on findings from their early customer or clinical feedback. That’s why it is paramount that the design team and customer work together as partners to overcome these challenges and understand the applications and design struggles. The teams work together to create a win-win situation, because in the end, we are only successful if our customer is successful.
When designing a new product, how much weight should be given to function versus style versus safety? What other factors are there that also must be considered?
Safety can never be a tradeoff. There is a rule in the design process that of the three main product development parameters, cost – schedule – performance, only two can tightly be controlled. One of the three needs to be somewhat more flexible. Of course, that does not mean that parameter can get out of control, but it will need to be more adaptable. Typically, performance and quality are non-negotiable, leaving room to weigh cost vs. schedule. Is time-to-market more important than cost? Or vice versa? As for style, given the constraints from the fundamental architecture and design envelope, there is a lot of room for a skilled industrial designer to provide attractive and functional style options.