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  • Writer's pictureLexi Quayle

The Design Cycle: How to Make the Most of Your Product Invention Process

When an inventor thinks of a great new product, the first thing that comes to mind is how to manufacture and sell it. However, in order to make sure the new idea will be marketable and profitable, inventors should also consider how the product design cycle works. After all, design is one of the most important aspects of any new product or service.

A well-thought-out design can make or break a product or service. Therefore, before launching your invention process, it’s important to know what you’re doing and how you plan on getting there. If you are not sure where to start or get some tips on designing your own products with ease youv'e come to the right place!

We'll discuss the design cycle, i.e the different stages of designing a product and provide several examples so that you can see how these work in real life and adjust accordingly based on your goals as an inventor.

What is the Design Cycle?

Design is an integral part of many products and services that are created today. Businesses of all sizes rely on design to create an engaging user experience and bring products to market quickly.

But how do design teams and inventors go about taking a product from concept to completion? The answer lies in understanding the design cycle. The design cycle is a logical/ itterative process that is used to ensure that the product they create meets the user's needs and requirements.

It includes a series of steps that designers use to develop and refine products, from the initial concept to the final product. In this section, we'll take a look at what the design cycle is and how designers and inventors use it to create products that are successful.

1. Identifying the Problem

The first step in the design cycle is to identify the problem. This means having a clear understanding of the challenge being addressed and the goals that need to be achieved. To do this, it’s important to have an understanding of the current circumstances and the desired outcome.

During the problem Identification phase of the design cycle, it is important to ask the right questions in order to identify the real needs of the customer and develop a clear understanding of the problem.

Questions should focus on the current problem and how it impacts the customer. Questions should also be tailored to the customer's specific needs and should include inquiries about their current processes, products, and services. Additionally, questions should be asked to identify any stakeholders who may need to be involved in the process and to determine the customer's desired outcomes. Finally, questions should be asked to identify any pain points or areas of improvement that the customer may have identified.

By asking the right questions, the problem identification phase of the design cycle can be used to gather the necessary information to ensure that a successful solution is developed.

2. Formulating the Hypothesis for Solving the Problem

A hypothesis is a theory or assumption that can be tested and proved or disproved in order to reach a conclusion. It helps define the problem or opportunity and guides the design process by providing a clear statement of what needs to be addressed and why.

Without hypotheses, the product design process may be unfocused and lack direction. Hypotheses also provide a basis for testing and validating assumptions throughout the design process.

Formulating a hypothesis in the product design cycle requires a systematic approach. First, the problem should be clearly identified and described in detail (phase 1).

The next step is to brainstorm potential solutions, followed by researching any relevant existing solutions. Then, a hypothesis should be formulated which clearly states the problem and the proposed solution.

This should be tested through experimentation to determine whether the hypothesis is correct. Once the results of the experiment are analyzed, any necessary adjustments should be made to the hypothesis in order to refine the solution.

After the hypothesis has been refined and tested, the product design cycle can continue with prototype development.

3. Developing the Prototype

A prototype is an early stage version of the product or design that allows for testing, feedback, and improvement. Prototyping is an essential part of the design process because it allows for the product’s functionality, design, and usability to be tested before the product is released.

Additionally, the prototype can be used to identify any potential issues that may have been overlooked in the design process.

It is important to note that developing a prototype doesn’t always mean the product will be built from scratch; in some cases, existing products can be tweaked or improved.

Luckily, inventors have a variety of prototype options to choose from when creating a new product or idea.

  • A proof-of-concept prototype can be used to demonstrate a concept and test out basic features.

  • A visual prototype is used to create a physical representation of the product’s design and may be used for marketing purposes.

  • A rapid prototype is a version of the product that is quickly created to test design functionality.

  • A working prototype is a fully functional version of the product that works as intended and may be further tested for usability.

  • Finally, a production prototype is an exact replica of the product that will be manufactured.

Each type of prototype has its own purpose, and inventors should carefully consider which type best suits their needs.

4. Testing and Validating

In order to effectively test and validate the prototype of an invention with potential customers, it is important to ensure that the process is conducted in a structured and professional manner.

Firstly, the inventor should be prepared to discuss the key features and benefits of the invention in detail with potential customers. This should include demonstrations of how the invention works, and any research or information regarding the advantages it can bring.