President's Column

Communication: a key to design success

Author: Prof. Dr. Peter Zec | 2017-01-01

Only when the design strategy is matched with the communication strategy can we ensure that consumers can understand and evaluate the design.So the success of the design depends on whether it can successfully deliver its message. The same is true for the functionality of a product, which is even easier to understand and communicate, because it is easy to judge whether the functionality of the product is working smoothly.

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However, the relationship between product design and function may not be so clear-cut. For example, the Swiss artist, Jean Tinguely has demonstrated this point of view with the smooth but meaningless mechanical art. What is reasonable in the field of design may not make any sense in the field of art, and vice versa. If you don't clearly draw the line between design and art, you will be confused, and the difference between the two not only lies on the product itself, but also on the means of communication .Whether the final product meets the "design" criteria depends not on the intended function of the product, but on how the information is interpreted in the process of communicating with consumers. Such communication is a skill that every designer must master.

Artists understand this earlier than designers. Marcel Duchamp was the first to implement this concept, signing on off-the-shelf quantity products and elevating them to the hall of art. Duchamp clearly demonstrates how to define the use of objects through communication. Another role model was Andy Warhol, who took quantity products and packaging to the field of art.

In view of this, communication is the key to the success of the design. But how to communicate through design? There are many ways, and the reality that we need to face is that there have been a lot of paradoxes about design, so there are bound to be contradictory decisions.
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One of the many examples that can be cited is design communication in business and industry. It is not uncommon for designers and clients to view the design from different or even conflicting perspectives. Maybe one of them wants to make good design, while the other wants to pursue precise business goals. For designers, perhaps the most important thing is to make the design concept perfectly realized, while for customers, maybe design maybe just a means to improve the commercial profit.  In the designer's mind, the success of a product depends on the realization of the design concept, but for the customer, the design is only the starting point to success, the real focus is on the evaluation and marketing that follows.

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The designer's main job is to sell his design while the client's job is to find a buyer for the finished product. Although at first glance, only the client bears the risk, in fact, the designer cannot avoid the risk, which can be seen from the payment terms of the design commission. For example, if the design fee and the sales status of the final product are completely separate, the designer would bear comparatively small risk and he just needs to wait for the customer to produce and sell the product and pay the design fee after making profit.

But if the commissions are linked to the sale of the final product, the situation is quite different. Although the customer still has to pay manufacturing, transportation and sales costs and bears relatively large risks, but the risk borne by the designer is also enlarged. As the designer is only responsible for handing over the design scheme, in the procedure of manufacturing and sales designers usually have no position to interfere, the success or failure depends on the execution of other members. The risks taken by the designer are also closely related to the organizational structure of the client. If the customer has a mature sales organization and is willing to invest in high-quality production, the designer will take much less risk than with a start-up.  As a result, many designers often prefer to work with the market leader or blue-chip company, which is more rewarding than a company with an unclear market position -- even if the latter makes much more money once the product hits the market.

※ This article is published on the design column of "uDesign"

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