We live in an extremely connected world. Our devices are connected to each other, our cars, and even our homes. It’s an exciting time – but what does all this interconnectivity mean for the future of product design?
It means that product designers now have opportunities and capabilities for design that were unimaginable a decade ago. The most important attribute of the Internet of Things (IoT) is that it’s enabled products to talk to each other. This has opened many doors for designers.
Consumers Want Smart Products
Now that devices can talk to each other, consumers’ expectations have risen to a whole new level.
Products like washing machines and dryers are being designed to collect information about their user. Some of the most influential product design trends include increased product interactivity and more features geared toward a more specific consumer demographic. Now that devices can talk to each other and our cars and houses, designers will need to consider how their products can be interactive too.
Design Will Shift to Focus on the User Experience
Consumers have shifted from wanting products to wanting experiences, and that’s been made possible by the IoT and the interconnectivity of products. When products are able to interact with the consumers who are buying them, the experience the user creates is unique to them and has more meaning to them. Therefore, they value it more. The more interactivity designers can incorporate into their products, the more personalized they can be made to the individual consumer.
Technology Provides Better Feedback
You want to design your product with the consumer in mind. Before the IoT, the best way to get consumer feedback was through surveys or focus groups. Social media has made it much easier to get feedback on products as well as profile your ideal customer. It’s much easier to find out what consumers want and how they want it.
Online reviews are also a great way to get feedback. Some online review sites even allow you to connect with reviewers so you can ask follow up questions or get more details about why they liked (or didn’t like) a certain product. Companies often get instant feedback when a product that is connected to the IoT isn’t working, which is helpful when it comes to potential design changes as well as customer service.
Adaptability is Key
Suketu Gandhi said in the Spring 2016 issue of MITSloan Management Review that our current level of innovation is about creating new products, but innovation of the future will involve creating products that are adaptive and constantly changing and delighting the customer. This adaptability needs to be central to the design of the product.
The IoT is forcing product designers to go to the next level of consumer experience. Not only will products be able to talk to other devices, as well as consumers, but they will also be able to adapt to consumers’ needs based on the data they collect.