Tag: product design

What is a product roadmap (and do you need one)?

If you’re developing a product, you’ve probably heard the term ‘product roadmap’ floating around.

But what does it mean, and do you need one?

What is a product roadmap?

Simply put, a product roadmap is a vision of your company’s evolving products. It is a strategic document that outlines plans and allows visibility on which direction the company is heading. The roadmap is usually rolling or agile over a specific time period, which when developing physical products is usually 3 – 5 years. It tells you which products will be delivered, and by when.

Essentially it’s the road your company will be travelling on and what products will be launched along the way. Like an actual road, there may be some bends and twists along the way, and even a few diversions!

Photo credit: Unsplash

Who is responsible for the product roadmap?

The product manager is ultimately responsible for creating and owning the product roadmap, however, there will normally be other stakeholders around the business. The following departments will usually have at least one nominated stakeholder:

  • Executive board
  • Product team
  • Design and Engineering
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer Service

Depending on your organisation, you may also have some external stakeholders.

product roadmap

It’s vital that the product manager updates stakeholders on a regular basis. They’ll need to arrange meetings to communicate updates and collate feedback, but ultimately it’s the product manager who owns the roadmap and is responsible for keeping things moving. If there are delays that will impact the agreed strategic vision then these need to be communicated to stakeholders. The roadmap will help to manage and align the stakeholders’ expectations.

Why do you need a product roadmap?

As outlined above, the roadmap is the organisation’s strategic vision for the future. It’s an essential document for the business. Without it, you won’t have clarity of which products are being launched.

It communicates the product vision clearly and aligns product goals with overall business goals. The ultimate objective being to launch commercially successful products with a healthy return on investment.

The roadmap translates “technical” jargon into concise language that all stakeholders can understand.

Product roadmap meeting
Photo credit: Unsplash

It allows priorities to be communicated easily, which is particularly useful when difficult decisions need to be made (such as which features can we afford to include in the development, and which need to be scrapped).

The roadmap facilitates different departments to work together, resulting in a smoother development process with the outcome being a better product for your target audience.

Simon Cornelius, MD of Cornelius Creative says:

“A long-term strategic product roadmap gives businesses a great foundation for future product launches and exposes the maximum potential from existing product ranges.

A well thought out roadmap identifies potential gaps in a product portfolio as well as gaps in the marketplace. It allows businesses to control their product lifecycles, ensuring that outdated or poor performing products are superseded by new product developments before it is too late. This ensures a continuous revenue stream, as well as helping to plan new product launches, by giving a firm indication of deadlines to complete the development and hit significant selling milestones, be it a trade show, or seasonal time of the year to maximise the product’s initial uptake.”

What should be included in a product roadmap?

The content of your roadmap depends on your organisation, and your audience. The size and structure of your company will determine the complexity of the roadmap, but there are certain aspects that should be included:

  • The overall vision for the product(s)
  • Requirements (what you need to get where you want to be)
  • Project timeline, complete with timed goals
  • Metrics, how things will be measured

Best practice tips for a killer product roadmap

  • Make sure the company’s vision is clear: it will be the overall guide for the roadmap.
  • Don’t overload the detail: keep it top level with your audience in mind.
  • Make it accessible to all stakeholders: and keep communication regular.
  • Review and update regularly: make changes when necessary – it should be flexible.

Next steps:

Are you looking to create your next product roadmap? Our team of experienced product managers can help.

Contact us today and we’ll take you on the first step to planning commercially successful products.


Why Is Sustainability Influencing Modern Product Design?

What are consumers looking for when they buy a product? Quality, convenience and cost are three major factors that they consider.

Over the past few years, however, another consideration has been added to the list – today’s consumers want to purchase products that are environmentally responsible. With this in mind, companies are now increasingly reinventing how they design their services and products, putting sustainability at the forefront of everything they do.

A Changing Mindset for Sustainability

Over the last decade, conversations have been taking place about climate change and its impact on the planet at the highest level.

The media is full of stories about the effects of global warming, so consumers are becoming highly aware of why they need to adopt a more sustainable approach to living. So much so, in fact, that customers will pay more for a product that is sustainably produced, and using eco-friendly products has been revealed in studies to make consumers happier when using the product.

bamboo toothbrushes for sustainability
Bamboo toothbrushes – no longer a niche product. Photo credit: Unsplash 

With an increased demand for sustainable products companies are, understandably, responding by transforming their processes to be more environmentally conscious. Not only does it appeal to their target market, it also helps to meet their own sustainability goals (and any targets set by government), as well as benefitting the planet. It’s win-win-win.

Single-use plastics have become a hot topic once again throughout the Covid-19 pandemic with the exponential increase in demand for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), particularly disposable masks and gloves. It seems our awareness around problematic ocean plastics has perhaps been neglected, overtaken by a necessity to protect ourselves from Coronavirus. And while plenty of brands have jumped on the PPE-wagon with branded merchandise available everywhere, the impact of single use PPE products over the course of the pandemic can’t be denied.

Single use PPE - Covid19
Photo credit: Unsplash

How Can Companies Make Their Products More Sustainable?

When it comes to product development, assessing the lifecycle of products is key. From the raw materials used in production, through to its end-of-life scenario, assessing possible alternatives to minimise waste and energy usage at every stage has never been more important.

Many companies are now asking product design companies to develop ways of making products componentised so that, in the instance they can’t be refurbished or recycled at end of life, they can be deconstructed to make alternative products from the components.

This is an important step for those of us working in product development to take. In the past when working for manufacturers we’ve witnessed huge amounts of product wastage on far too many occasions – perfectly good products that could’ve been refurbished, but instead were consigned to landfill.

It’s heart-breaking and completely unnecessary, and it’s our responsibility as innovators to implement a change.

Lego recently announced they have produced their first brick prototypes using 100% recycled plastic. Important? Absolutely, but perhaps far too late for a global company like Lego to have only taken this step in 2021. What has taken them so long?

Lego bricks plastic
Photo credit: Unsplash

Why Is Sustainability So Important When Designing New Products?

As an industrial design company, our focus on product development is always a sustainable one. A primary goal of our business is to limit the negative impact that we have on our planet, and to this end, we strive to ensure each and every product that we develop is developed sustainably.

Sustainable boxed water
Reducing plastics in bottled water. Photo Credit: Unsplash

We recently designed a range of eco-friendly packaging for a new wellness tea brand, PUR-E-TEA. The company’s values are centred around the planet and wellbeing, so one of the main requirements from the client was for the packaging to be as sustainable as possible. For us, looking for sustainable options is a prerequisite anyway, but it’s satisfying to work with clients that have the same values as us. We designed a slimline box to reduce the amount of material needed (whilst also saving on cost), and used chemical-free ink for the artwork. We limited the amount of plastics used within the packaging, and any that were necessary were 100% biodegradable.

Sustainability in product packaging
PUR-E-TEA slimline eco-friendly packaging

Not only do we seek out eco-conscious materials and adopt sustainable manufacturing methods for use in the products we work on, but we have also introduced environmentally sound changes to our business practices, including going paper free as much as possible. All of our product sketches are now made on graphics tablets instead of paper. We use the XP-Pen Artist 13.3 pro for all sketches, which we’ve found works perfectly for our needs, and during video calls while screen sharing we are able to sketch ideas and concepts to allow clients to visualise their product being designed live while we speak! Another way we try to be sustainably conscious is to seek out local suppliers whenever possible to reduce the distance products need to travel. We also encourage video calls with clients, and if face-to-face meetings are necessary, then we look to use public transport wherever possible. Simon also rides his bike to the office most days!

We are working hard to minimise our carbon footprint in line with the latest best practice within the product development industry, and to do our bit to protect our planet for future generations.

Top product trends to watch in 2021

Can you believe it’s February? So much has happened this year already; an attempted coup in the US Capitol, a new US president, the Covid vaccine rollout… 2021 has started with a bang and shows no signs of slowing down.

If we think back to this time last year, we had no idea what was in store for us. By February 2020, most of us were starting to become aware of a Coronavirus “issue” in China, although some of us had never heard of Wuhan before – remember that blissful time? We’re unlikely to forget it now.

Any plans that brands had for 2020 quickly went out of the window.

As I explained in my video on post-Covid marketing trends some companies have been able to thrive in the pandemic – they diversified their proposition and were quick to adapt to rapidly changing situations.

But when it comes to product design and development, the process is typically much longer than marketing. Product development cannot be done overnight; the process has many stages that take time. Changes can be made at any point, of course, but they can have huge repercussions on the rest of the development process, and the budget of course.

So, while it looks like 2021 will be similar to 2020 in many ways – it’s unlikely many of us will be travelling much this year, and working from home will continue for lots of us – what product design trends will emerge this year?

The annual Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas every January is a good marker for the type of tech products that’ll be launched that year. In 2021 the conference was held virtually, but there were still plenty of product trends that emerged.


Smart money on Smart products

Smart products have been around for a few years and many homes have at least one, typically a smart speaker or video doorbell. And although we’re used to the term “smart home”, the reality is that most of these products don’t learn our habits, they are simply connected via the internet and are controlled by our devices.

But this will change over the coming years; home products will start to learn our habits and adapt their behaviour using Artificial Intelligence (AI). Some are already doing this, such as the Nest thermostat, but we will see more AI driven technology with products being able to think, learn and make decisions.

These products are already being developed. The Nobi smart lamp has been designed to offer extra care to vulnerable and elderly users – it can detect irregular motions, such as falls, to alert carers. And the Toto wellness concept toilet will analyse waste product and offer personal health recommendations – so in the future both our GP and toilet will be telling us to eat more fibre!


Cleaning up

If the past year has taught us anything it’s how easily germs can spread. The demand for cleaning products has grown considerably, often surpassing supply (remember when hand sanitiser was selling for £120 on Amazon?). And as more workplaces and public spaces reopen, new cleaning and safety measures will be implemented to prevent the spread of the virus. So, it’s likely we’ll see a trend for hygiene and cleaning in new product design.

Take this self-cleaning bedsheet from Nordifakt, for example. Made from 100% organic cotton treated with Polygiene, a silver chloride treatment that acts as a natural disinfectant, the bedsheet breaks down germs, Volatile Organic Compounds and mould to stay clean and smelling fresh with no need for washing. And when you consider that after one week the average bedsheet has 17,442 more bacteria than a toilet seat, a self-cleaning sheet certainly has some appeal.

It’s likely that touch free products will also grow in popularity, Kohler has developed a number of touchless bathroom fixtures including a toilet and tap, and we designed a concept bathroom tap that is both touch-free and has a timer to tell the user when they have washed their hands for the recommended 20 seconds.


Let the good tech roll

It’s a bit of a Marmite development but like it or not, rollable/foldable technology is here. For the most part, the tech has been developed into mobile phones, but it is being rolled out (pardon the pun) to laptops and even space-saving rollable TVs, if you have a spare £63,000 that is.

Foldable phones were debuted at CES 2019, but the technology has been 10 years in the making. The initial launches from Samsung and Motorola have been struck with a few design glitches, but the companies seem determined to make flexible displays the next big thing.

(Anyone remember when curved TVs were the next big thing?)

So, is it just a gimmick or will we all have folding phones in our pockets in five years? (Couldn’t we just go back to flip phones?)

There are some advantages to folding tech; the ability to run multiple apps simultaneously, a more immersive experience when consuming media, and of course the obvious space-saving convenience.

Cornelius Creative Managing Director Simon says: “

“The advent of flexible screen technology removes some of the boundaries of traditional screened devices. For a designer, having the freedom to design a product without the limitations of a fixed sized display screen opens up a whole plethora of new and interesting shapes. The next stage is for spray on or mouldable screen technology, which opens up opportunities to apply screens onto organic forms.”


Meeting personal values

Consumer habits are changing and with this shift is a desire to support products and brands that align with our personal values. The rise of ethical consumption and conscious consumerism is having a direct impact on product design, with more consumers choosing to buy products with no negative consequences on people, planet or animals:

“Carbon offsets are no longer enough; consumers will consider the impact of product disposal when making purchase decisions. Brands will respond with products and processes that reduce and remove more greenhouse gas than their companies emit.”

Mintel 2021 Global Consumer Trends

And it’s not just intent, consumers are staying true to their word. Hotwire reported in 2019 that 47% of internet users had moved away from buying products from brands that violated their personal values, a claim that is also backed up by Harvard Business Review.

“From product, packaging, experience, service and sustainability, designers must strive to meet the demands of the increasingly discerning consumer.”

Design Week, Jan 2021

Manufacturers need to consider sustainability in product development to evolve beyond recyclable packaging to encompass all aspects of design, production and manufacturing, and is respectful of the choice of mindful purchasers. For example, Whole Earth suggests alternative uses for their 1kg peanut butter tub once it’s finished, from storing bird seed to taking bagels to work.

Consumers are also increasingly demanding brands recognise inequalities and injustices around the globe and use their platform to take a stand, whether it’s against exploiting workers or speaking out against systemic racism by supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Each year during Pride there are floods of companies that jump on the LGBTQ+ bandwagon; launching rainbow-themed products and changing their logo, but consumers have cottoned on to the lack of substance and are now choosing companies that actually support LGBTQ+ charities through the sale of such products.


So, there you have our top product design trend predictions for 2021. Do you agree? Or do you think other trends will emerge this year? Leave your thoughts below!

We’re looking forward to developing and launching lots of new products this year, if you’re looking for help with product design and marketing, speak to our team today.

Photo credit: Unsplash

Do I need to prototype my product?

One of the services we offer our clients is creating rapid prototypes of their products using our 3D printer.

We were asked by a client recently: “Why do I need to get a prototype made of my product? Can’t I go straight into production?”

The prototyping stage is one of the most important parts of the product design process. Prototyping your product will actually save time and money overall, so we would always recommend that getting a prototype made.

So, first things first: what is a prototype?

A prototype is essentially a physical 3D version of your product or part. It is a replica of how your finished product will look and feel, and possibly even perform (if it’s a working prototype rather than just aesthetic).

The prototype could be a DIY version, made out of cardboard or other materials readily available, or you could employ a prototyping company like us to professionally make it for you.

Depending on the product being developed and the materials it’s made of, the process to create a prototype can vary. We will typically use a 3D printer which uses different types of plastics (with different properties). It is possible to get prototypes made in other materials such as wood, metal and fabric.

Why do I need to prototype?

Our MD Simon recently posted a video about the importance of prototyping in the product development process:

As Simon described in the video there are 3 main reasons for prototyping – all of which will save you time and money on your overall project. There will be a cost involved in getting the prototype professionally made, but the benefits far outweigh the cost.

1. It allows you to check the design and highlight any problems early on

Working with 3D CAD and photorealistic renders give us an excellent impression of what a product will look and perform like, but nothing really compares to holding the product in your hands and being able to examine it. When your product is ready for manufacture there may be expensive tooling costs, depending on the design. If you were to get the tools made without checking the design first, it could be a very costly mistake to make. Making a prototype allows you to make iterative changes to the design – a much more time and cost-effective method.

2. You can make sure the product performs correctly

Secondly, having a prototype allows you to test the functionality – making sure that any parts fit together correctly, that it is durable and won’t break. It is far cheaper to conduct these tests with a prototype than with final production parts.

3. It provides opportunity for feedback from end users

Finally, having a physical prototype means you can get feedback from real life customers. The feedback could be positive or negative – both are valuable and can provide some great insights, which you may even use to refine your product design. Again, it’s much more cost effective to make these changes now rather than later in the production process when you’ve invested into tooling.

You can also show the prototype to investors and board members – you’ll be taken more seriously when presenting a prototype rather than just a concept or an idea.

How do I make a prototype?

Prototyping is an essential stage of product development; it’s why we invested into a rapid prototyping machine (3D printer). We bought our Prusa Research printer at the start of 2020 and it’s been used on almost every one of our projects since.

If you are creative, you can choose to make a DIY prototype, which will give you a rough idea of what your product will look and feel like. It’s a relatively low-cost option and will give you an indication whether the product will be manufacturable. But in order to test it properly and to make sure the product will be fit for purpose, you will need to have the prototype professionally made.

If you have any questions about product prototyping or 3D printing, please get in touch with us, we’d be happy to help.

What our clients say.

  • "They were able to deliver an outstanding solution to a challenging brief"

    "I gave the team at Cornelius Creative a challenging brief, and they were able to deliver an outstanding solution, but more importantly did so a highly professional and efficient manner. I would certainly recommend them for any product design or marketing briefs you have. It was a pleasure working with them."

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  • "Their interest, passion and care makes them feel part of your team"

    "Simon and the team at Cornelius Creative are fantastic. Their interest, passion and care makes them feel part of your team. They have a wealth of experience which was clear in our project and critical to the successful design. Simon was critical in the brain storming all aspects of design and functionality. Cornelius Creative always make time for you and are extremely approachable and helpful to talk through any aspect of the design. Cornelius Creative have a passion for delivering high quality designs, which is clear in our project. SailAI would highly recommend Cornelius Creative for any creative design projects, and hopefully we will be working together again in the future."

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    I approached Cornelius Creative to help with my business branding, which had got a bit stale. They were able to look at my business as a whole and refresh my brand to make it more appealing to my customers. They made huge improvements to my logo and visuals as well as my messaging to make it more appealing. My brand is more recognisable now and I couldn't be happier with the result. I'd definitely work with Cornelius Creative again.
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