Here are some examples of great product design that made a simple object a huge hit that can be easily distinguished from the competitors.
A product’s design can be crucial when it comes to the usability, intuitiveness and marketability of a product. The better the user’s experience with it, the more likely it is that it will be a big market success.
Product design is the method by which designers combine customer needs with commercial objectives. The idea is that this process will help them define the problems in the design and production phases, and assist brands in creating consistently successful physical or digital products.
Product designers strive to improve the user experience in the solutions they create for their customers, as well as support their brands by ensuring that their products are long-lasting and meet long-term business goals.
A good example of successful product design is a cupholder. It is very simple and cheap to produce but increases the safety of using a simple product—a paper cup—while at the same time giving the user a good experience.
But many physical objects and digital interfaces have good product design that helps you use everyday things seamlessly. One could argue that you don’t even think about products with good design because you don’t need to notice flaws, which would be more memorable.
Yet, some product designs deserve to be mentioned and studied. Here is our selection of great product designs.
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In industrial design
Small details can make all the difference in usability when it comes to industrial product design. A chair whose height can be adjusted, doors that only open from the inside,a seat belt that tightens up when sudden movement happens… Even the contour of a bottle that makes it easier to hold, such as Coca-Cola’s, can be ergonomic and ease the usage.
We’ve selected ten everyday products that are available to buy on the market, whose design process obviously included a stroke of genius and a lot of usability testing.
Swinging doors in hospitals
Doors that can open and close in both directions vertically are very important when it comes to surgery rooms, for multiple reasons. First of all, a surgeon with disinfected hands shouldn’t be touching knobs. Secondly, when medical workers push a stretcher or wheelchair, they should be able to do that quickly.
It is a simple idea that helps with speed, efficiency and hygiene in hospitals.
Heinz ketchup bottle
One of the most frustrating things when adding condiments to food is to have to turn the bottle upside down, give it a little pat on the bottom, and wait for the liquid to drop towards the other end.
I’m not a ketchup fan, but I can see why Heinz is dominating the market: their bottle fixed that problem. The small hole where the sauce comes out is at the bottom, making the liquid always ready to come out.
Heinz vs other brands. Credit: Serious Eats
As someone who often uses a bike to get around town and is constantly worried about it being stolen, this design would fix everything. It is a “foldable” bike that is not too heavy and can be carried in a backpack that is part of its body.
It is also very popular among adrenaline bicyclists that like mountain biking but hate carrying their bike on the hike back.
Kitchenaid stand mixer
Ah, the blessing that is a self-stirring stand mixer! I love baking, but I genuinely hate standing for minutes above a bowl with the buzzing mixer in my hands. But a stand mixer, the original being Kitchenaid, makes cake making a breeze. The bowl rotates clockwise, while the whisks move counterclockwise, making the stirring and mixing process easy and efficient.
It is hard to believe that humans didn’t think of a lamp with “joints” that makes it possible to direct the light in the wanted direction until 1932. The Anglepoise lamp, designed by engineer George Carwardine, made late-night reading a great experience for both readers and their roommates.
How did a tiny plastic tube with some bendable parts become so omnipresent? The bendy straw lost its glory days because of plastic pollution, but once upon a time, it was an innovation that everyone liked to use.
Although we’ve been using some kind of straw for hundreds of years, humanity got the helpful bendy straw that allows children to drink from tall glasses and adults to decorate their cocktails, only in 1937.
In the 30s of the past century, people still used fountain pens that dried out or regularly ran out of ink. They were also not ideal, since the flow of ink was consistent, smudging paper all the time.
Enter the ballpoint pen. With a tiny ball that rotates on the surface, hence controlling the flow of ink, people were able to start saving on ink and writing without leaving any smudge marks.
The joy of being a kid with a PEZ dispenser from your favorite cartoon! This Austrian company managed to make candy-eating a collectible and fun experience. Seeing there are hundreds of designs of cheap candy dispensers, people nowadays collect them and their value is far greater than the market price.
It is a great example of how product design can make a simple product into a unique and valuable experience.
Yet another example of simplicity making genius: a square piece of paper with glue on just one side. This office staple has been around for more than four decades, making brainstorming and self-organization easier for millions of people around the world. All of that with just a small line of adhesive on one side!
Toilet cisterns with two buttons
A standard toilet cistern uses 6 to 9 liters of water per flush. Luckily, the Japanese sanitary product manufacturer TOTO invented the dual flush toilet in 1960. With it, you can easily help save water by pressing a smaller button for liquid waste, and a bigger button for solid waste. One spills 3 liters of water, and the other 6, cutting the waste of water in half.
In digital design
In UX and website design, it is harder to isolate one feature or functionality as a tool, because these systems work together like clockwork. Still, some simple inventions changed the way websites look and how people spend their time using technology.
Here is our pick of five great examples of gadgets and features that are great examples of product design.
Fitbit is a revolutionary invention that brought wearable health technology to everyday use. At the same time, it is a physical product and a great UX: a watch that serves multiple health-tracking functions that can be easily seen and organized on a tiny screen.
A Kanban board, as simple as it is, makes team organization and planning much easier to deal with. It’s a simple process outline, in which different columns of the table represent different phases of production. By dragging the “sticky notes” on the screen to another phase, teams can monitor the process and organize accordingly.
It is a simple digital replication of a planning board, and as someone that uses it a lot, I can definitely say it’s a great example of efficient product design. It is often used in team management and productivity tools such as Asana, Monday and others.
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A drag-and-drop tool is good UX at its finest: it gives you the ability to pick something up and leave it at the place it needs to be on a screen. It makes content management systems, landing page builders, emails and other design and marketing tasks a breeze, especially for people without proper design or coding skills.
Google’s search bar
In UX and product design, white space and minimalism is very important to help users focus on the important stuff. Google’s search bar has been simple and intuitive from the very beginning, making it possible even for grandmas to search for things. Of course, they think they need to go to the home page and start from there, but it’s still intuitive and easy to find what you’re looking for.
Finally, the simple addition of the home button on smartphones and websites is an innovation worthy of a spot on this list.
When you need a quick exit or a view of all programs running in the background, the home button is a magical little square or logo that does the trick.