Consumer Product Integration

Why do some consumer products succeed and some products fail? My theory, and the point of this article, is that most consumer products fail because the consumer wasn’t adequately considered in the design process. By far, the consumer isn’t the only consideration when bringing a product to market. You certainly have to consider manufacturability and the technology among a myriad of other important issues. However, I believe that the consumer must be the most important consideration when it comes to the design of products that consumers are expected to purchase and use.

There are eight aspects of design that relate to the consumer that should be considered during the design process (Human Factors, Safety, Consumer health, Population characteristics, Product support, Training & Learning, User protection, and Aesthetics & emotional design). Typical design projects may focus on one or two of these elements. For example, a product designed for someone with arthritis might focus on the population characteristics (i.e. the functional abilities) of the target audience in order to make sure that the product doesn’t require more strength than user’s have available. The designer of a new wood chipper might focus on increasing safety to minimize accidents. The developer of a new cell phone might focus on the activation experience to minimize product support costs and increase customer satisfaction.

The conventional wisdom is that most consumer products fail just before or after launch. Online sources often site failure rates ranging from 50% to 80% of all new products . We need a different way of thinking about design. We need an approach that considers all of the aspects of design that relate to consumer simultaneously.  Designers need specific tools to assist in the allocation of the appropriate amount of attention to each component of design that impacts the user experience. Consumer Product Integration (CPI), based on the foundation of Human System Integration, pulls together all of the related domains and gives us a framework for successful product design.

CPI is both a management and a technical strategy for considering all consumer related design issues in a well balanced and structured way. Using CPI techniques, designers can make the appropriate tradeoffs and understand how design decisions that relate to one part of the user experience impact other components of the experience. CPI helps to ensure that the proper consideration is given to each component at the appropriate points in the design process.