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The underlying principle of majority of the products being sold today, from mobile phones to laptops to computers to different home appliances, is the smaller the better. Of course, its size wouldn’t discredit the fact that it is also one powerful gadget. Take for example, the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini, both of which are smaller versions of their predecessors yet are more powerful. With this kind of principle in product design, one might safely predict the trend of the gadgets that are about to come within the next few decades? Can we expect smartphones the size of our palm but have twice the power of an iPhone? Is it even feasible to have a small hand-sized smartphone?

Some people would think that smaller is better, however it doesn’t really apply to nearly all kinds of products, nor is it logical for a product to be inadequate in terms of size. For example, a new car from Toyota wouldn’t look awesome or feasible if it was smaller than the Prius but was more powerful than the Ferrari. A TV wouldn’t look good if it was smaller than 10 inches, even if it did have the latest technology in Plasma display. This basically means that the current underlying principle in product design has a certain loophole, or rather something that makes it less worthy of thought.

Now, there was an industrial designer that came up with the 10 Principles for Good Design named Dieter Rams. According to Wikipedia, Dieter Rams (born May 20, 1932 in Wiesbaden, Hesse) is a German industrial designer closely associated with the consumer products company Braun and the Functionalist school of industrial design. His principles have been used several designers today because it provides firm background and support for any design being conceived. According to Dieter Rams, the 10 Principles are:

  1. Good design is innovative.
  2. Good design makes a product useful.
  3. Good design is aesthetic.
  4. Good design helps us to understand a product.
  5. Good design is unobtrusive.
  6. Good design is honest.
  7. Good design is durable.
  8. Good design is consequent to the last detail.
  9. Good design is concerned with the environment.
  10. Good design is as little design as possible.

What do these principles mean and hold for the product designers, or any designer in the world? Let’s take a look at some of the principles that designers tend to overlook.

  1. Good design is innovative. A product design should not be without the possibility of innovation, meaning the product that will innovate the predecessor should also be considered as the one to be innovated once it hits past its prime. Innovation means that the product should be relatively new to the field, or contain some new elements. Innovation should also include the added value, meaning it has to add something that will add value to the predecessor or current unit that wasn’t introduced. For example, smartphones back then didn’t have front-facing cameras, but the newer versions do now and have more powerful front-facing cams than the older unit’s back camera. Getting business telephone systems with voicemail features can do wonders for your business.
  2. Good design makes a product useful. A good product needs to have both form and function. It needs to serve its function or functions. For example, hand dryers are convenient and found in all restaurants, and come in different sizes and features. They all look good and they all do only one thing: to dry hands. When a product lacks function, it also lacks in design because form follows function and function follows form. A product cannot also function properly if it wasn’t formed well.
  3. Good design is aesthetic. Product designers cannot simply say that the product is designed that way in terms of aesthetic because it is artistic. A good design is aesthetic because it helps to generate a positive response from people, and aesthetics cover three fundamental human cravings: BALANCE, STRUCTURE, and COMPLETION. A product needs to look good and feel good, and has to be sturdy enough to withstand abuse. Case in point, the Gorilla Glass of the iPhone is an example of this current principle and principle #1 (innovation). The older iPhones had more fragile glasses and when it was dropped, the thing would shatter to a million pieces. The Gorilla Glass is both an aesthetic and innovative feature because it was made to improve an existing feature and it satisfies one human craving, which is STRUCTURE. Business telephone systems that look as good as they work can attract a lot of clients.
  4. Good design helps us to understand a product. Product design is not like painting on a canvass, where people have to guess what it means. A good product design should be able to tell how the product functions simply through how it looks. I would like to go over the hand dryer. It’s a relatively simple product but comes with sleek designs. The commonalities of the designs of hand dryers are its air vent and the one button that disperses the heat. These two alone should be able to tell an individual how it works minus the complicated manuals.
  5. Good design is durable. Following principle #3 (aesthetic), a good product needs to be durable. What is the use of a new espresso maker if it breaks down after one month of usage, or what good is a television if it short circuits easily? Principle #5 follows or rather supports principles #1 (innovation) and #3 (aesthetics). Oftentimes, product designers add more durability to a new product when the older version lacks durability.
  6. Good design is concerned with the environment. It’s sad to admit that once a product is no longer of use to us, we immediately discard it as junk and throw it away. When it’s mixed with the trash, some parts are actually considered as pollutants and maybe harmful to the environment. A good product design should be environment-friendly, like how the foam cups of coffee shops are now biodegradable or how an appliance is able to consume less electricity compared to its older predecessors. Pioneers of these kinds of technology are LG and Samsung, both of which are currently marketing their GREEN or eco-friendly appliances.

Product design is no easy feat, simply because it involves 10 principles and is based upon what the consumers want. It’s all about satisfying your consumer’s wants and needs without going overboard. A good product design is an even more difficult feat to achieve, mainly because it has to abide by the 10 principles.

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