What Is a Design Concept?
In product management, a design concept is a short description of the idea behind the planned design of a product. Some experts say it describes a product’s soul or essence. We describe it as an elevator pitch for a product.
In other words, a design concept provides a brief explanation of your product idea and why you believe the product will be worth designing, developing, and releasing to the market.
What Should a Product Design Concept Do?
Although it should be a short, pithy description of your product idea, a design concept needs to accomplish several things.
1. Communicate the problem the product solves.
What will the product do?
A product design concept should explain both what the product will do for users (the solution) and why that functionality will add value to their lives (the problem they’re looking to overcome).
2. Identify the product’s target user.
Who is the product for?
A design concept should describe on a personal level the people your product will help—as well as how the user experience will be tailored to serve those people.
3. Describe how the user will interact with the product.
What will the product experience be like?
Your short overview should also convey what it will be like to use your product. If you’re developing a mobile app, will it be a single dashboard view of all relevant data—and the same view for all users? Or will you make it a customizable interface where users can set the information they want to be displayed and then show only those details?
This third task of a design concept, communicating the user experience, is important because it sets limitations on the product design. In the early brainstorming stages, product teams become enthusiastic about many ideas at once. Establishing a concept that includes limits on the user experience will help push the project forward.
How Do You Create a Design Concept for a New Product?
A product team can generate a working design concept for a new product idea by following a few steps:
Step 1: Find a problem worth solving.
This will require knowing your user persona’s goals and challenges and researching the market. A problem worth solving will be one that your target customer will be willing to pay for, and that your team has the skills to build under a reasonable timeframe and budget.
Step 2: Set your design parameters.
Using what you know about your customer persona, now you’ll take your product idea and give it some form and context. This can mean size, shape, and materials for a physical product; if the product is digital, the look and feel.
Step 3: Draft a short design concept statement.
The goal is to convey to your stakeholders what you plan, hope, and expect for your new product idea. The statement should be short, clear, and easy to understand. It should also communicate all three of the details we discussed above: the problem your product will solve, its intended user, and an overview of the user’s experience.
You can also think of your design concept as a way to communicate the spirit of what you want your product’s design to achieve.