So after hours and hours of research, brainstorming, and napkin-sketching, you’ve got your product idea ready to go. The only problem? Your sketching ability amounts to something like this:

And while your cute little stick figures work great when you’re illustrating your product for your friends, good luck getting a manufacturing company to create your product when they can’t even tell what’s going on in the design.

It’s at this point that you might want to consider hiring some help to design your invention. That’s what we do at Pivot: we can take anything from your spoken idea to your conceptual doodle and work with you to create a marketable product.

And there are many other reasons to hire a product design firm – not just your inability to create drawings that those in the industry will understand. Maybe you’ve designed plenty of consumer products, but you haven’t worked with any industrial products. Or maybe you’re embarking into the world of software product design for the first time.

No matter what your reason is for hiring some help, you want to make sure you take some time to find the right firm. Here are two of the most important questions you should ask yourself (and them) before you bring them on board.

What exactly do you need from your product design firm?

In some cases, this will be easy to answer. If you have a product idea, but you don’t have the expertise necessary to make it into a workable item, then you probably need a full-service firm. If you have some preliminary drawings or digital files for your product, but you’re having trouble with one specific element, you want a company that can give you only the help you need – you don’t want to be charged for full-service assistance when you don’t need it.

Pivot’s business model allows our designers to step in at any point and offer you as much or as little help as you need, whether that’s designing something from the ground up or simply working out a kink that’s giving you problems.

There are additional nuances to the question, however. What tasks do you want to take care of, and what do you want to firm to handle? Do you anticipate needing help further along the line with your product – with manufacturing, for example, or prototyping?

If so, you probably want to at least look at companies that can offer a continuum of services (like we do at Pivot). That will let you avoid the headache of repeating the process of finding the right company to help you once you hit those later stages.

Does the company have experience with the kinds of products you want to create?

While there are firsts for every inventor and every design company, it’s a good idea to make sure the company you choose has at least some experience with the type of thing you’re making.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the firm has to have made a product similar to the exact thing you’re creating (in fact, hopefully they haven’t, since you want your creation to be as original as possible!). But if you’re designing a touchscreen technology tool for use in medicine, for example, you should probably make sure the firm you’re hiring at least has experience with software and/or touchscreens. Bonus points if they’ve designed medical devices and tools before.

At Pivot, for example, we’ve worked on software and touchscreens, as well as a variety of medical products, fitness products, consumer products, and industrial products. This means we’ve got proven expertise in all of these areas – which is something else you’ll want to check for when looking for a good product design company.

Hiring a solid product design company can be a great move for inventors or designers who are either new to the design process or have a sticking point in their design that they’re having trouble figuring out on their own. If you’d like some help perfecting your design, contact us at Pivot!