5 Strategies to Consider When Designing Your Next Product

Not sure where to start? Here are 5 strategies to consider when designing your next product in the article below....
5 Strategies to Consider When Designing Your Next Product
Written by Staff
  • We all know bad product design when we see it: an app with hideous, eye-straining color schemes. Tiny text, in a multitude of fonts and sizes, that runs right off the edge of the screen. Square-edged buttons that don’t move or change when you press them, so you never know whether they’ve actually been activated. And if you do click successfully, you find yourself waiting on a slow-loading page you didn’t want to visit in the first place.

    Whether you’re creating a new app or revamping an existing one, the right strategies will prevent your effort from landing in product design hell. The following tips will help you create a beautiful, streamlined deliverable that will keep your customers coming back for more.

    1. Create a Design System

    Every design team should have a design system: a collection of reusable components that help create a consistent experience across one or more products. A design system consists of colors, fonts, buttons, and other visual elements that will be used repeatedly within each product the team creates. The system should also include clear instructions, including:

    • Guidelines for placement of all visual elements
    • Design patterns for different interfaces (Android, iPhone, desktop, etc.)
    • Documentation about how each component in the system works
    • Tools and resources for developers
    • Company values and accessibility standards to uphold throughout the design process

    One example is the Uber design system, which lets the company offer multiple well-differentiated apps that are yet unmistakably part of the Uber brand. By using a strong design system, companies can ensure every page of every app remains consistent with their brand. Still, different products in a company’s suite can have small, unique elements that make them clearly distinguishable.

    2. Make Everything Easy

    Great product design is all about simplicity. Don’t put anything on the screen that doesn’t need to be there, and make icons familiar and navigation predictable. Offer multiple easy ways to get to a desired screen. Avoid giving a user more than one to two tasks to execute per page of the product. Or if that’s not possible, use progressive disclosure to avoid overwhelming them.

    Younger generations tend to operate their mobile devices with two thumbs, while older ones are apt to use a single index finger. Avoid interactive elements that require users of any demographic to adopt input methods they find cumbersome. Save your customers’ information across all apps, so they never have to reenter their details. People generally scan, not read, so keep text brief and well-positioned on the screen.

    3. Evolve Your Look Gradually

    If your company has multiple products in a suite, they should look different but not too different. You can achieve this balance by integrating small, gradual changes in your next product. Try adding or replacing just one color in your color scheme, or incorporate a different photo aspect ratio. Don’t scrap basics like the layout of your menus or navigation buttons. 

    Think about how you can naturally evolve and differentiate each new product without abandoning any core design elements. Reuse interactive experiences that make sense across different applications (e.g., if your rideshare app has a location tracker, your package delivery app should, too). If you’re rebranding, be wary of any change that feels too extreme.

    4. Prioritize Accessibility and Diversity

    Whenever possible, create and iterate with inclusivity at the forefront. Caption audio for Deaf and hard-of-hearing folks and set up your product to interact seamlessly with screen readers. Make text and images magnifiable and use alt-text for photos. Select images with diversity in mind. Don’t ask anyone to input their gender unless it’s necessary, and offer a good selection of options or a write-in box.

    Consider smaller-seeming details as well: Use fonts and colors that are legible to people with color-blindness or dyslexia. Offer text and audio in multiple languages and keep language direct for nonnative speakers. Choose words that are appropriate and inclusive. Make as many elements of your product functional offline to account for users with poor connectivity and provide a faster experience in general.

    5. Consider Your User, Then Delight Them

    Throughout the product design process, keep your target user in mind. When budgets get lean, user research is often the first thing to go. But it’s also the only way to really understand your audience. Make sure you incorporate qualitative interviewing and usability testing at all stages to reduce friction wherever possible.

    Then, go above and beyond. Think of ways not just to meet customers’ wants and needs, but to offer them unexpected moments of joy. Animated elements work well and can range from simple loading screen graphics to soothing videos of tropical rainstorms or ocean waves. Also consider clever push notifications (but not too many), friendly avatars, and other ways to gamify mundane product experiences. However, never let these add-ons interfere with speed or functionality.

    Always Bring It Back to the Basics and Your Brand

    There are a million factors to consider when designing your next winning product. Every shade of green, every click, and every comma of copy matters. When you’re working cross-functionally with multiple teams, it’s easy to lose sight of little things that make or break a user experience. That’s why, at every stage of the product design process, it’s important to keep going back to these fundamental principles. 

    No matter what design choices you make, remember your goal is to solve a problem. Good design means sticking to that end goal without creating new sources of friction. Never forget that every decision your team makes should move the brand closer to its core mission and values. At the end of the day, delivering a great product isn’t just about look and feel. It’s about the heart and soul of your brand and all the reasons your customers keep choosing you.

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