3 Clever Ways to Set Your Products Apart in ‘17

As 2016 rolls to a close and the new year upon us, let’s look at a few ways to improve our products in 2017.

1. Make it interactive

The Internet of Things (IoT) became part of mainstream product design in 2016. We’ve mentioned it in earlier posts. Not many think to incorporate into the product decoration. Durable decoration offers protection and a natural hiding spot for electronics. Since discrete chips can now work with phones, it offers endless possibilities to enhance the customer experience. A simple example is replacing hardcopy users manuals with a navigation chip that directs the user to a website.

2. Go 3D

Dimensional objects have been used for decorative purposes for thousands of years. Putting them ON products is another matter. There’s no doubt it “up-scales” the perception of products. But the expensive, long design process (relative to decals and other forms of flat decoration), along with limited visual options, has reserved it for large ticket items. New technology makes it more affordable with a much shorter design cycle. The accessibility brings an array of design options to the creative process that were impractical up until now.

3. Ask your kids

What’s the best way to get started with your new gadget? Give it to your kid. The online world is their natural habitat. Middle agers approach with caution. We might be well served to check our skepticism at the virtual door. It’s the ultimate consumer-centric experience – in fact, much of it is user-created. Isn’t that what we’re trying to do when we make things?


For me, the weekend after Thanksgiving means tackling the outdoor Christmas lights – in other words, multiple trips to Home Depot. The most annoying aspect of replacing lights that mysterious fail to work after a summer in the basement is checking them, running to the store, unpacking/untangling the new ones, and of course wrestling the shrubbery. So this year, I circumvented the whole process and got laser lights that beam onto the landscape (so far without fail). I chose the Star Shower brand (www.getstarshower.com). Yes, it’s more expensive. No, I don’t have them entirely figured out yet. But I’ll say one thing – wow, is it easier!

As we embark on a new year, filled with opportunity, let us never forget the most important component of every design – the person using it.      Happy New Year!