Blog: Top 5 Tips for Product Development

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Top 5 Tips for Product Development

MAY 28, 2018
Author: Rob Garrison
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Like any other entrepreneur, I’m continually coming up with new products that I’m keen to test and take to market if they receive good feedback. Just a few months back, I came up with a concept for a new pet care product idea and so naturally reached out to supplier contacts in Asia to request a sample. To my surprise, what I thought would be a two 2-3 day process wound up taking weeks, with multiple back-and-forth emails and miscommunication along the way.
Reflecting on the issues I came across, I can see now that this was largely due to errors on my part and as a result, I want to share my suggestions on to expedite the product development process so you can avoid these pitfalls in your own product design.
Top Tip No.1

Build and photograph the prototype yourself first

Even if you are not handy or don’t have the right materials, build it from carboard if you must. Forcing yourself to work through the design at the prototype level will save you a lot of headaches throughout the process. Once you have your prototype, take some photos and explain it to family or friends first to see what questions they have.
Top Tip No.2

Take photos of your prototype in it’s intended environment

In this example, my product is a pet product but the initial photos I took of the prototype didn’t initially click with the supplier causing confusion around what we were trying to create. Once I provided additional photos showing the product in action however, suddenly everything became clear and they understood it. Sure, a picture of my prototype on a table was useful, however also showing it in use with my dog made it clearer to the supplier how to design it for its intended use.
Top Tip No.3

Create a materials list for the supplier

Many of the questions I received were related to understanding exactly what materials I wanted my product built from. In my case I had used the materials I wanted to build the prototype, however it wasn’t always clear from the photos – be that whether the material was wool or cotton, or the specific type of fasteners we wanted to use. Creating a materials list will again, reduce confusion.
Top Tip No.4

Create an engineering diagram

I say that loosely because I am far from an engineer. However, any type of sketch of your product with the expected dimensions is helpful. Alongside material type, many of my supplier’s questions related to the exact specifications I wanted. I had listed some dimensions alongside the photos, but a separate page with dimensions proved very useful.
Top Tip No.5

Set up a video call

After weeks of going back and forth, I finally set up a video call. I immediately regretted not doing this on day 1 as it was so much better to be able to show them my design, clarify misunderstandings and build rapport. There are lots of free tools available for this - almost every supplier I have talked to is familiar with Skype.
I truly believe that if someone had provided me with this list from the outset, I would have avoided some fundamental pitfalls in product design and I hope this will do the same for you – helping you to get your prototype built quickly so you can move on to production!

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