Your design philosophy should be an expression of your strategic vision

Alix Paultre, PSD Editorial Director



Every designer is trying to create a new solution to address the customer's needs, but how that solution is expressed should be a manifestation of not just your customer's needs, but your strategic vision of where that application space is headed and how you feel technology should be implemented to address it. Short-term solutions A short-term solution is just that, a band-aid placed on the application requirements to satisfy the customer's desires, but does nothing to address the deeper aspects of the market segment and the technologies and infrastructures involved. Many consumer devices fall into this trap, as companies create one-off short-term products that satisfy a market fad but do nothing to serve the general industry. This issue is not as great in B-to-B application spaces due to the slightly more practical nature of business, but it is still a real concern and drag on the industry. One example rife in the industry is that many companies choose to field a proprietary solution to an application space that bridges many markets and industries. This may be done to make customer retention easier, or to avoid license fees on accepted connector and/or protocol and/or form factor issues. These "solutions" only help the immediate customer and do nothing for infrastructure compatibility and system interoperability. Long-term solutions Products and systems that solve industry-level concerns while addressing customer needs are the best. This is extremely beneficial to everyone, a true win-win. Not only does the customer get what they wanted, the manufacturer gains a solution that can be applied to multiple customers and applications. For example, implementing a smart-product solution that not only works for the customer but also uses industry-standard form factors, connectors, and protocols, will also ensure current and forward infrastructure compatibility as the industry migrates. A proprietary solution runs a significant risk of being left behind or leapfrogged as the industry moves forward. Functionality focus After interface and form factor, functionality must also be considered as an infrastructure consideration. How a system is deployed and its functionality focus has a great deal of influence on the solution itself. For example, Apple's iPod wasn't any different fundamentally in the hardware than its competition; its great advance was the focus on the device as part of a larger infrastructure. That infrastructure was proprietary, but since there was no other competition, Apple's solution won out because they had based their design on a larger vision that served the customer as well as the application space. A device created with a narrow focus will have a narrow application space; one created with the market and industry in mind and an idea of where that market is headed will apply to much more. PSD