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Product Design Hiring Guide

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Product Design Hiring Guide

Updated April 17, 2024

Product design is a multidisciplinary process of conceptualizing, planning, creating, and maintaining products that solve unique problems for end-users. Products that don’t go through the thorough process may fail to meet the market’s expectations, so investing as soon as possible is essential. 

Well-designed products can leverage any business, allowing them to stay competitive. Poorly designed products can affect customer relationships, brand reputation, and profitability. Product design shouldn’t be an afterthought even after the product has hit the market. 

Credible product design companies are dedicated to creating innovative, sustainable, and profitable products that customers will love. They are experienced professionals who know how to plan, execute, and rigorously test products. The right product design team can help your business make a mark and impress customers.

In addition to creating a good product, you can unlock other benefits, such as reduced development costs, less downtime, and enhanced brand authority. In this hiring guide, we’ll review everything you need to know and consider when searching for the ideal product design partner.

What is Product Design?

Product Design: The tedious process of planning, creating, improving, and testing products to help meet demands. It’s a continuous process that involves multiple disciplines and expertise, such as marketing, prototyping, market research, and engineering.

Because of its extensive scope, product design work requires different professionals like program managers, marketing experts, UX designers, and developers. 

The entire process covers the product life cycle, from ideation and production to testing and refinement. It typically follows a structured approach to ensure optimal business and customer results. 

At its core, it’s balancing and achieving the highest functionality, aesthetics, and user experience. 

Product design is basically problem-solving. It aims to understand the problem of end-users, create a quality product to address it and enhance different aspects of the product. The result should be a product that’s intuitive, cost-effective to produce, and ergonomic. 

Moreover, product design is an evolution of industrial design. It’s not limited to physical products but also digital products such as e-commerce platforms and mobile applications. 

As different industries and markets become increasingly saturated, investing in quality product design can be the difference between a successful product and a flop. Businesses must invest in superior product design services to differentiate their products from competitors. Not only does it help sell the product, but it also helps companies mitigate risks and adapt to the ever-changing market dynamics. 

Finding the right product design service provider should be a priority to make every step easier, especially for small businesses or startups that want to penetrate their markets. When looking for the ideal partner, many factors should be carefully considered — their experience, expertise, and range of services just to name a few. 

Product Design Services by Country

Product Design Services by City

5 Benefits of Product Design Services

Product design offers many benefits for businesses regardless of industry, size, and location. Prioritizing excellent design can help companies unlock these five main advantages:

  1. Increased competitiveness: The biggest pro of excellent product design is that it can provide an invaluable competitive edge to businesses that hit the mark. New products that are designed remarkably can perform well against existing competitors. Meanwhile, companies that continuously aim to refine their products can keep their customers happy and secure their market share. 
  2. Customer satisfaction and collaborations: Product design allows businesses to understand and connect more with their customers through research and testing. The insights they gather from their customers can help create a better product that will in turn improve their satisfaction and brand loyalty.
  3. Better sales and profitability: More loyal customers mean repeat sales, and that leads to more profit for the company. Of course, consumers want to have good products that give the best value for their money; and products that are user-friendly, functional, and aesthetically pleasing will perform better and generate more sales than those with mediocre quality.
  4. Cost-effectiveness and sustainability: Among the goals of product design is reducing production costs, making it more sustainable and easier for businesses to produce. Good product design can lead to better profit margins because it basically optimizes the manufacturing process and lowers production waste. Additionally, it also impacts the long-term sustainability of businesses because it minimizes the environmental impact of the production process.
  5. Regulatory compliance and risk mitigation: Thorough research and testing ensure that products meet strict regulatory requirements and safety standards. By mitigating the risks of product failure and reducing legal liability, businesses avoid image-damaging issues and costly lawsuits.

All of the benefits mentioned are intertwined with one another. Ultimately, product design can lead to business achievements and greater chances of success, even in crowded markets.

What Services Do Product Design Companies Provide?

Product design is cross-disciplinary, requiring many steps and expertise aside from UX design. Dedicated service providers offer vast services and solutions related to the product’s lifecycle.

product design services

Here are some of the main services offered by product design companies:

Research and Discovery

Market research and product discovery are the very first steps in the whole process. This service or step allows the designers and the business to understand the end-user, problem, need, and demand, validating the product before starting the development.

For this, product designers closely study the consumers to clearly grasp their preferences. They will also analyze the market trends and the competitive market of the product.

Usually, product design companies conduct qualitative or quantitative research through surveys, interviews, and focus group studies. They observe the market to identify the unseen opportunities or gaps they can address in product development. 

Thorough market research and discovery will be the foundation of the product and its development. Essentially, without it, the designers couldn’t create a step-by-step plan for the project.

User Experience Design

User experience design, or UX design, is a multidisciplinary process that focuses on creating a meaningful and engaging experience for end-users. Its goal is to craft memorable experiences with a brand by ensuring the product is efficient, easy to use, and functional. 

UX design covers the entire user journey, from concept development to the eventual launch. Designers consider multiple variables shaping the journey’s engagement with the product. They think about how the product will feel once the consumer uses it, how the users might use the product, and how accessible it will be for them.

User Interface Design

User interface design, or UI design, differs from UX design but is equally important for the overall product design process. It focuses more on the design's exterior and overall aesthetic feel rather than the experience. 

UI designers use different creative tools to create the design's appearance, behavior, usability, and behavior. They consider the interface and technology users will interact with to access the product — screens, sounds, and intractability. 

When hiring a product design team, check if they have experience with different types of UI design, such as graphical user interface, voice-user interface, and menu-driven interface, to see if they fit your project.

Prototyping & Testing

Prototyping is the experimental process of creating and implementing various product ideas into tangible deliverables. It involves producing a simple early product model to test the concept and validate its functions.

The prototyping stage welcomes feedback and encourages the designers to learn more about the product to hone the concept before executing and launching any project. 

Product or prototype testing follows prototyping, and it’s as straightforward as it’s called. Its main purpose is to examine the product, its features, and how users will use the early version created. Meticulous testing allows designers to identify issues that can hamper the product's performance once it hits the market. It allows seeing if the product actually meets the users’ needs and expectations. 

Design Engineering

Design engineering involves skilled engineers and designers translating ideas and prototypes into the product. For this phase, the product design team will apply all the feedback gathered from the product and use the specifications of the technical drawings they’ve created to execute the final product.

In essence, it applies different engineering principles and software development techniques — if it’s a digital product — to meet all the desired functionality of the product. 

Once the design engineers finalized the product, they worked closely with different departments, like marketing, to launch the product. If it’s a tangible product like a wearable technology device, they will also coordinate with the manufacturing partners to ensure all specifications are understood and met.

Branding & Packaging Design 

Aside from the technical design and engineering services, product design companies may offer other services supporting the product life cycle. Branding and packaging design are two fundamental aspects of the lifecycle that these service providers can contribute to because of their in-depth understanding of the product.

The design team can help the business create unique packaging designs that can enhance users' overall experience with the product. They already have the necessary knowledge of consumer behavior, ensuring that every detail aligns with the product’s goal.

Additional services may include logo design, brand strategy, and brand guideline development.

Product Lifecycle Management 

Product lifecycle management (PLM) encompasses every stage of the product’s lifetime, from conception to after-market launch. It’s a strategic process that ensures the product’s journey runs seamlessly or with minimal issues. 

Product design companies offer vast PLM services. They can oversee and work closely with the business for everything related to the product, such as handling documents, maintaining the product, and initiating tests. 

Effective PLM is the catalyst for innovation, syncing every key team member and helping fuel upgrades by constantly gathering insights into product performance.

Main Product Design KPIs to Assess

Closely monitoring and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is a must to guarantee the project’s success. KPIs give the business crucial information on how the product design team is doing and how the product is performing. Depending on the stage of the product design process, various metrics must be watched carefully. Here are the main product design KPIs to assess:

  • New Product Sales: When the product reaches the market, set a practical time frame and see how many new products are sold. This metric will help you identify whether the product is meeting expectations is underperforming compared to your other products, or is keeping up with competitors in the market. If the number of new product sales is low, perhaps there’s a problem with certain aspects like its aesthetic appeal, functionality, or even marketing.
  • Research & Development as a Percentage of Sales: R&D is a big investment for every business, but it’s important to see if the costs outweigh the profit. To measure this, calculate the total product design or R&D costs and the total profit from the product to see the percentage. There’s no ideal figure for what percentage it should be as it differs from product to product and industry.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): One of the most common metrics used to gauge how customers feel and perceive the product. It basically involves gathering customer feedback through simple surveys or questionnaires, asking them to rate their satisfaction from 0% as the lowest to 100% as the highest. The score will be determined by the sum of all the responses divided by the number of total responses gathered and then multiplied by 100. 
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Another common KPI that can vary from one product or business to another. There are multiple methods to compute ROI, but the simplest system applied to product design projects is ROI = net return on investment/investment costs x 100
  • Effective Resource Allocation: Aside from the project, it’s important to evaluate the performance of the product design team. The best way to determine their productivity and competence is by analyzing how they allocate resources while delivering quality output. 
  • On-Time Delivery: In addition to their ability to efficiently allocate resources, evaluating their capacity to deliver on or before the agreed timeline is crucial. Constant delays aren't healthy for any project, and time management should be a huge deal.

What is a Product Design Team? 

A product design team or company is a committed service provider that offers a range of services aimed at helping businesses create, launch, or refine products. They are typically composed of multiple professionals with varying fields of expertise, such as designers, developers, and managers.

product design team

Their main goal is to understand the end-user and produce a product that brings value by solving a specific issue. Hiring the right team is extremely important because they’ll establish your product's foundation. 

Who Makes Up a Product Design and Development Team? 

  • Product Manager: Their primary role is overseeing the entire product lifecycle. They coordinate essential tasks and establish efficient communication lines for all team members and stakeholders.
  • Researchers: This role sets the crucial tone for the discovery phase. They are responsible for conducting thorough market research and analysis to understand the customers. 
  • Designers: These individuals lead the problem-solving part of the project, maximizing the data gathered by researchers to plan a valuable product for end-users. Their role involves brainstorming sessions, creating user personas, and setting the UI/UX design. 
  • Product Engineers and Developers: Considered the team's backbone, these professionals are responsible for executing the design and turning the product into a tangible solution. Their role is to work closely with the designers, managers, and clients to make sure the product meets the exact specifications. 
  • QA Specialist: This role is focused on testing, inspecting, and ensuring the quality of the product. They know the best practices to analyze the product, checking for errors or bugs that could impact its appeal to end-users. They also give crucial feedback to designers and engineers on improving the product.
  • Product Marketers: They create impactful marketing strategies to promote the product to its intended customers best. They work hand-in-hand with the product manager and the client to plan marketing campaigns, messaging, and tactics to expand the product’s reach.

What to Look For When Hiring a Product Design Company 

When hiring a product design team for your project, the first thing to do is know your project to outline your main priorities. Every product design project is unique, so take a moment to consider the different elements and factors that matter to your needs.

A good product design team should have a solid track record working on successful projects, which could be some that are similar to yours. Ensure they have experience in your industry, a clear engineering point of view, and a clear understanding of your design requirements. 

Another thing to consider is the type of engagement your business needs. Do you need a team that will serve as your partner throughout the entire product lifecycle, or do you only need specific services? Some firms prefer working on longer-term projects, while others specialize in one-off work.

Lastly, find the right team that can work within your budget. More often than not, budget is a big factor for companies, especially those running on limited resources. Evaluate the options to see which service provider offers the best value for your investment without compromising the quality of your product. 

Criteria For Hiring a Product Design Agency

  • Budget
  • Years of experience
  • Location
  • Technical expertise
  • Design philosophy
  • Past clients 

Before you search Clutch’s directory for the leading product designers, do your due diligence by preparing a checklist of what variables matter most for your project. Sit down with your team to assess your project and sort priorities to have an easier method for filtering the options.

Once you’ve narrowed your options, the next thing to do is prepare questions to ask when you finally interview the qualified product design teams.

10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Product Designer

  1. Can you walk us through your research process to understand our market?
  2. What are your design methodologies?
  3. How do you start your design process?
  4. What part of the design process does your team usually spend the most time on?
  5. Can you walk us through your project management process? How will you keep us updated on our project?
  6. How do you ensure the team completes projects on time?
  7. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your design team?
  8. How do you simplify a solution for a complex project?
  9. What QA testing processes do you apply?
  10. How does your team decide when to produce prototypes and at what fidelity?

After you’ve conducted the interviews, you can narrow down your top choices based on the criteria you’ve laid out and the discussions you’ve had with them. It’ll be a tough process but ultimately, you should feel confident and comfortable with your chosen team.

Find Your Ideal Product Design Partner

Nowadays, customers face a myriad of options as more industries and markets become increasingly saturated. Investing in exceptional product design is the best way to impress them and turn them into loyal customers.

The right product design team behind your business can lay the groundwork for success. Maximize the insights you’ve gained from this detailed hiring guide to match with the perfect service provider for your project.

It won’t be a quick search, but by browsing through Clutch’s shortlist of top product design companies, you’ll cut through the clutter immediately. Use the filters we’ve prepared and remember all the factors explored above.

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