Product design is one of the most powerful instruments to bring brands to life for consumers. Based on visual, haptic and acoustic impressions, consumers make permanent decisions as to whether products address psychological motivations relevant to them (e.g. performance motives or a need for security). Implicitly, i.e. without cognitive effort, the brain generates meaning from which a person sees, feels and hears.
The conclusion: the aesthetics, symbolic and functionality of a product must match the consumer's usage and buying motives.
However, designers and product developers are faced with a difficult challenge. They have a completely different perspective on product design than consumers. While the latter are interested in subjective associations and perceived benefit dimensions, designers only have objective parameters such as shapes, colors, materials and finishes under their control. A reconciliation between the two perspectives is necessary.
The goal of design decoding is to uncover the secret relationships between controllable design parameters and the meaning that consumers derive from them or from their composition (Gestalt) as a whole.
To achieve this goal, we offer a rich toolbox.
In lean, qualitative decoding workshops researchers and consumers develop so called Design Code Frameworks which help our clients to convey messages like “Naturalness” or “Robust & Reliable” via all human senses. These workshops can e.g. be applied in agile innovation processes to derive clear recommendations for the next iteration of a prototype.
If detailed design optimization is in the focus, we recommend quantitative, statistical decoding approaches. Through linking subjective judgments of liking and triggered associations on the one hand with objective design descriptions coming from trained experts on the other hand, we establish Sensory Target Zones delivering clear recommendations for designers and engineers. How should the surface of a rotary control dial feel, what should the turning sound be like in order to convey “premium quality”?
Benefits for design development
Design Decoding helps designers to make design decisions more consciously and purposefully and to increase sensitivity to the consequences of individual decisions. The results provide design guidelines and reduce innovation processes according to the trial and error principle. Within these guidelines, the designer remains obligated to develop a coherent and aesthetic design so that he feels supported rather than patronized. Furthermore, this approach offers the possibility of design-related competitive benchmarking, which precisely identifies the best detailed characteristics on the market and makes them usable.
Integration into the company
Design Decoding creates a common instrument for explanation, communication and analysis in companies that enables designers, engineers, marketers, market researchers and management to discuss design decisions in a structured way. As a design code framework for a category, it can be used as a valuable method for developing new product designs. Tools such as the Sensory Target Zone support the optimization of existing products.
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