3 Key elements of product design

Designing a new product is all about getting the same 3 key elements right: function, style and cost. Every design in history has balanced (or failed to balance) these three ideas and no matter what sort of product you have in mind, you will keep coming back to them.

Let’s take Hospital Crash Carts as a good example. Though you might not think it, these carts have gone through a steady evolution, taking into account new technologies as well as working within a busy space. The function of the crash cart may be its main priority but the style is important too. Smoothed corners, stable maneuverability and user efficiency are all built into a product that is only used when seconds make the difference between life and death.

As for cost, we all know that hospitals need to do as much as possible with their limited budget.


The function of any product must be at the heart of the design. This means that you need to understand what the product must achieve as well as what the consumer will expect. Marrying your concept with your audience’s expectation is the key to a successful product and slightly more difficult to achieve than you might think.

As you go through the design process, you should try to refine your product to make its function as sleek as possible. The easier it is to use a product, the more likely people will be drawn to it and even forget not having it. Just think about how the touch screen revolutionized phones!

Style and Aesthetic

While function is the most important part of a design, the style and aesthetic make all the difference. When customers can choose between something that is purely functional and something that is aesthetically pleasing as well, they will always choose the latter.

Everyone has a different idea of what is aesthetically pleasing so you need to know what your audience will expect. Everything from color and texture to weight and feel can have an effect on aesthetic so choosing the right material isn’t just about what functions but what functions aesthetically too.


For every design you create, you should also create a cost-benefit analysis. This is a process businesses use to work out whether they are truly getting value for money and whether they could spend less to get the same results.

The key thing to remember about cost is that spending less doesn’t always mean that that the project will be cost-effective. The real test of cost-benefit analysis is where cuts can be made and value can be improved. Experiment with your design and see what you can do.

Balancing the cost, aesthetics and function is more challenging than you might think but when you strike upon the perfect compromise your product will stand out for all the right reasons. Give your product time and don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board to reinvent as you go. Every version should be treated as a learning curve and the more you refine, the better your design will become.

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