In order to create great products and a compelling user experience we need to understand how users behave. By understanding the user, their environment, and applicable technology we can start to formulate proposals that are user-centric and truly fulfil their requirements. The market that a product resides in also needs to be carefully understood; at Optima we undertake market research, including competitive analysis to identify emerging trends within discreet product and service sectors.
A complete and holistic discovery phase ensures that we can move on to the next phase of our process, with a full complement of information to base our development decisions on.
Once we have completed the discovery phase we can begin to generate concepts. These are usually sketches, mock-ups, exploratory images and rendered CAD models that meet the jointly agreed brief; this forms the basis of the proposed products aesthetic and functional requirements.
We inherently take into account user interaction, aesthetics, ergonomics and manufacturing options from the ground up. At this early stage in the process we typically involve potential suppliers, who can add value to the design process by providing specialist knowledge of the most suitable material and manufacturing options.
During the concept phase we seek preliminary costings to inform our clients about predicted financial commitment, and to allow them to make critical decisions about the technologies and manufacturing techniques, appropriate to their needs. During this phase we also supply concept level renderings and images which clients variously utilise to assess market response, promote stakeholder buy-in and to conduct preliminary promotional activities.
Once a robust concept phase has been concluded a chosen concept is typically refined and developed using the latest CAD software to develop a fully defined 3D assembly model. A major part of this process is to take into account form, fit and function to ensure the product behaves and works as expected.
With the utilisation of tools such as FEA, DFMA we can start to refine the design and check aspects of the approach by means of rapid prototyping. This is an essential part of most designs and allows for fuller appreciation of ergonomics, fit and aesthetic characteristics. It also allows our clients to provide direct and informed feedback, which is not always possible from viewing proposals and renderings alone.
A major benefit of prototyping is the identification of fit and function issues at an early stage. This prevents problems being carried forward into the development process, where remedial or mitigation actions are usually much more costly and time consuming. Representative prototypes also offer an excellent medium to engage both internal and external stakeholders in the development process.
Complex designs often require several iterations in order to reach the desired outcome. Feedback from stakeholders in the project, and results from ongoing testing usually drive changes and allows the most effective design to be reached.
During the optimisation phase we typically develop robust costings based on quotes from our varied supply chain and manufacturing network partners. Detailed costings at this stage allows for informed manufacturing planning and ensures that correct and timely decisions are made about materials and manufacturing.