How do you decide the product that you want to design

In order to design something is it important for that the person should come up with the product first that they want to design? Like in my case, we’ve always been taught; create something that interests you the most. Animals is what interests me. I researched, narrowed it down. I had like hundreds of options, I could either go towards biomimicry, animals which benefit us, etc. There are so many options. I chose indoor pets, I focused on how to increase their animals instincts that die over the period of time.
My professors have issues related that, they were all like, do something different. International pet market is huge, everything is right displayed on the shelves. Obviously everything is already there, like there would be thousands of kettle designs around the world but designers keep on designing new stuff, with new ideas.
And when they asked me what am I going to design; I couldn’t reply back i’m still blank, I really don’t know what I want to make as a product. Should I decide this on need basis? Like what really is needed in pet industry to design products that could help revive pets their natural instincts.

Eat your own dogfood is a good philosophy which seems an apt metaphor in your case. :slight_smile:

Other than that, you seem to answer your own question in your last sentence; find a problem that interests you and come up with a good solution.

There was a topic a while back about good pet products, might be worth hunting that down.

Either find a problem and solve it, make something easier to use/clean, or make something aesthetically pleasing. (or all three)

Make sure it’s something your genuinely interested in though. Nothing is perfect so even if you pick something solely on interest I’m sure you will be able to find some problems associated with it that you can solve or ways to improve upon the aesthetics and function.

Start by finding a problem. An actual problem, not something you think is a problem.

Finding the problem can be done by either primary or secondary research. Primary research done directly with the customer. You watch what they do. You listen to what they say. Secondary research is indirect. This is done by reading publications of/about key opinion leaders or just regular customers. The publications can be print or digital.

Never look to solutions to find problems. Never. Meaning, don’t look at products that “solve” a problem as a source of the problem.

I gather you are a student, but if you were in industry, you would need to see if the problem is worth pursuing. Will the problem generate enough revenue to cover costs, with a nice profit? Does the problem fit the company’s capabilities? For example, Apple makes innovative products but you will never see them in the solar panel market. Also, what is the competitive landscape? Can you own the market or will you eke out a lousy 10% market share? Or will you be satisfied with the 10% share?

There are obviously many more criterion to determine if a company will pursue a problem. But those are largely based on culture. I’ll let you and your professors hash those out.

You can try and come up with a Great Big Magical Idea and design around that, but its often easier to start with a small idea, work very hard on it, and let it build and expand. Even amazing things like the iPad are a collection of small things, small problems solved very well. And you might have an easier time narrowing down your potential range of projects that way.

If you are in school, and looking for an exercise to develop design skills, it is different than trying to design a commercial success.

The concept does not have to be vetted by a marketing group or investors. My suggestion would be to have fun and use your direction,

In that vein, here is my suggestion, likely impossible, almost surely a commercial failure, but someplace to start from to build a story and a system and a design item.

A wind tunnel for caged birds to fly in place, essentially a hamster wheel for birds.

I have something to add here.

Last night I was watching the tv show “masterchef australia”. There were 5 contestants remaining and were all asked to choose a cut of beef and ‘design’ a meal using the cut.

One of the contestants, who has been going pretty well, because confused because of the huge amount of options he had. He grabbed ingredients and started cooking. Now, he might have been ok, but here’s what happened next. The judges came up and questioned his dish and said that they didn’t think it would work. As soon as they did that, he choked, put up a confused dish and subsequently was the one who went home.

See any parallels to your own situation? You have an idea, you show your lecturers and they poo poo it. It happened to me at Uni too, and I wish I had been more headstrong and continued with my designs.

I think with pets, the best thing to do is talk to a lot of pet owners. I have 2 dogs and a cat. A few things that shit me are my cat runs under our bed before we leave for work and has urinated on our bed, my guitar case, etc. but kitty litter boxes aren’t designed too well. Another problem is dogs pee on mats, chew things, eat too fast, try to steal each others food and countless other things. I love them, but they are pains in the ass. Especially my 8 month old male French Bulldog puppy.

Companies always like it when you can do more with less.
Find a product that you can redesign with a cheaper/ faster manufacturing process. Less parts and less assembly. Smaller, better packaging, better storage, better looking.

Give my Golden Retriever something to do to stop him from destroying my lawn. He likes to dig for rocks, then paw them round the backyard, ripping up the turf. Why is he doing it? What is an alternative that your design can provide?

Some of the glib replies are quite surprising to me.

The OP has the rare opportunity to choose which problem to pursue. Think about it. As a designer, unless you are an entrepreneur developing your own product or on an executive committee, you never get to decide which problem deserves the resources necessary to bring a solution to market. As a designer, you are merely one of the resources. Your role is only as a problem solver. That is a huge distinction.

Granted, the opportunity to determine the problem does occur in school. What is unfortunate is most professors also make that decision in a glib manner. But is the most critical decision in the process. And treating that decision with less thought than what goes into solving the problem will only guarantee failure.

I will also guarantee when you are sitting in front of me with your portfolio I will ask more questions about your process to determine which problem to undertake than I will ask about how you approached solving the chosen problem.

Thanks a lot, you guys have been very helpful. I have started the primary research; i’ve been meeting pet owners and trying to understand their problems.
But i’m kind of still confused about few things. Let’s take an example of the major problem; feeding your pets when no ones at home.Their solutions already exist in the market, there are a lot food dispensers, some even monitor your pets diet. And for litter boxes; again we see plenty of them in the market, there are automatic ones too.

This is the reason why my professors told me to reconsider my topic because they think in order to find solutions for such problems (food and litter) there are so many better ones out there in the stores. But again not in my country, here pet industry is very limited, nothing is DESIGNED I would rather say. Concept of owning, buying and selling pets has increased tremendously but we don’t find any pet equipment out in the market, expect for the cheap imported pet toys and the one’s produced by the locals like leashes, collars, food bowls, etc.

Perhaps i’m answering my own questions now, but this has been so helpful. I’m sure litter boxes and kitty bowls are going to bore me in my 6 months project.There are so many other problems, like if I take an example of my own cats, they are so scared of travelling. There could be so many solutions for travelling cages. The other day i met a pet owner, who wanted a solution for his pet fish. Like a mini aquarium, easier for travelling. He usually kept it in a bottle, when he was away from home.

You raise some interesting points. The first being distribution. If I may ask, what is your country? While getting “designed” products to your country has everything to do with distribution, you can apply design solutions to that problem. I don’t think I recommend that problem for a student, it is intriguing nonetheless. It also shows that merely designing an object is only a small part of what it takes to get a product to market. That is something IDers sometimes fail to grasp.

Your professors are probably right to stear you away from a crowded marketplace. With existing multiple solutions, it is more difficult to compete. But there can be openings. Do the existing products actually solve the problem? Are all price points covered? Can the market be expanded? If you can find acceptable reasons to enter the crowded market, there is no reason not to try.

And I’m glad you have started the research. Watch what they do. Listen to what they say. And remember, they can only illustrate the problem, they will not provide a solution. That is your job, and it’s the fun part.

I live in Pakistan. Well, the market is there, but there’s no such established brand or such thing which is solely producing pet equipment. People get them made themselves or buy it from the locals. We have plenty of cages for birds, aquariums, food bowls, such things here. Few shops have pet toys and litter boxes, imported from other Asian countries and they’re really not that good. I think it depends on the imports that we get, if we get the good stuff like pets food dispensers here; i’m sure it’s going to solve peoples problem at once. And on minor level some vets here design customized products for pet owners on demand.
It gets complicated everyday, and yes the market could be expanded, it needs to be. And we are required to keep in mind our local and international market; makes it more professional.