Product Designers

Product development requires a concerted effort among your design team, but what approaches lend themselves to peak performance? This question was taken up by researchers at Stanford University in a study that found that the use of multiple prototypes is among best practices.

In the 2nd of this two-part series, we’ll continue to explore how parallel prototyping fuels new product development by fostering the following improvements:

1. Stronger Critique and Increased Openness to Feedback

The Stanford study found that designers provided “more substantive critique when presented with multiple design alternatives.” Additionally, designers are more receptive to receiving feedback on several designs than just one.

A component of this lies in the ability to be objective about one’s own design, a critical skill that is easier to practice when a designer is not overly invested in a “one and only” option.

2. Heightened Exchange of Information

By measuring how often the designers spoke when discussing multiple prototypes, the study found that sharing numerous designs “increases the rate at which people exchange ideas.”

Verbal communication is critical in new product development. Designers that can communicate well are an asset to any business. Effective communication among designers boosts productivity and morale while decreasing errors and confusion.

3. Enhanced Product Novelty and Innovation

Exposing designers to numerous prototypes “increases the likelihood they will integrate similar features into their own designs.” Blending concepts from different designs can result in novel product ideas.

The researchers explain: “The process of comparing and contrasting alternatives helps people create higher-level structures.” This means that the end-product includes the best of prior designs while also transcending them. By being able to “understand and communicate the rationale behind the design decisions,” designers are primed to continue generating innovative ideas throughout their careers.

4. Greater Consensus

Study participants working with more than one prototype achieved higher levels of consensus than those who were only working with one idea.

Consensus decision making increases commitment and cooperation among designers. Additionally, it balances out the distribution of power within a group. When designers feel a sense of ownership and dedication to their work, the end product will likely be of a higher quality.

In summary, this study demonstrates how parallel prototyping helps designers 1) give stronger critique while being more open to feedback, 2) heighten the exchange of information, 3) enhance novelty and drive innovation, 4) achieve greater consensus.

If you’re in the process of launching a new product, we’re here to help. With over 46 years of experience in helping businesses achieve their potential, Pivot International leverages leading-edge design, development, and manufacturing practices to bring award-winning products to market. Are you interested in learning what a partnership with Pivot can do for you? Reach out to us today and consult with one of our design professionals for free.