Image of electronics circuit board

Electronics for Product Design – Bringing Beautiful Product Design to Life

Electronics for product design can be easily overlooked during the early part of the design phase. It’s all well and good creating a super slick product that the design gods would admire, but what about the functionality?

It’s all too easy to get carried away with the ‘looks like’ element of your creation, but without the right elements behind the product to ensure it really performs, you’re going nowhere.

This feature is here to give you some tips to help avoid the pitfalls of focusing on your ‘looks like’ model, without paying enough attention to your ‘works like’ model.

Know Your Limits

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; know your limits! The scope creep is real, so it’s crucial to remember that your product will evolve over time. This will not be your only rodeo! So set you and your team some hard stops when it comes to the limitations of the product. Consider what you set out to achieve initially. This will include who your target audience is, the main function of the product, the price point you expect or need to go to market at, the look and feel, and the functions your timeline and budget can accommodate. Without these factors nailed down, you won’t know if you are veering off track. Make yourself accountable.

Stop road sign with electrical cables, to signify limiting scope creep

Image by Alexander Kovalev on Pexels

Header Image by Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash

Keep It Realistic

Bringing a concept to life can be a really tricky task. After all, it’s your product-baby and any client will always have a goal of really making their mark once the product gets launched.

You know how you want your product to look. Let’s say for example you’re creating a unique wearable device. You want that device to be a thing of beauty. You want that device to be user friendly. You want that device to be effective. You want that device to be adopted by the many.

So consider the inner workings of your product and try to address electronics for product design, rather than designing the final masterpiece and then shoehorning in limited electronic functionality or quality, simply to fit it into the housing. It’s much like people – fantastic to have something that looks great, but if there’s nothing going on inside, the user journey is going to be pretty terrible! Remember that old saying – the lights are on but no-ones home! Don’t let your product be a reflection of that statement. Make sure the housing of your product will accommodate the technology you need, for the level of functionality that truly sets your product apart.


Photo by Marco Forno on Unsplash

Form Over Function or Function Over Form?

Surely we can have it all though? Can’t we?!

We often get pretty excited about the ‘looks like’ model. This is often the ‘Proof of Concept’(POC) model, which will help the team get the stakeholders to approve the next level of the product evolution. This is usually first time anyone has seen the product in its physical form and is a great way to generate excitement around the product.

But to ensure the aesthetics aren’t leading you astray, you really need to progress to the ‘works like’ model once the stakeholders are content to move on. When we consider the inner workings of a product, such as software and electronics, we need to remember that these elements usually need a physical presence – the workings have to live somewhere! So make sure this is taken into account.

By addressing elements like electronics for product design, and software for product design, rather than vice versa, you’re more likely to end up with a beautiful product that functions beautifully too!

If we approach the project from the right angle, we really can have it all! (Subject to budget and time restrictions of course!)

Image by Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash

Electronics for Product Design

Electronics for product design means ensuring the electronic capability being created, works harmoniously with the aesthetic of your concept. But what comes first? This is an age old problem, hence we advise you truly nail down any variable factors in your product, including (and perhaps most critically) budget, as well as a firm grasp on the desired functionality.

When the team take the approach of creating electronics for product design purposefully, they have a very clear brief to work to and they can set about achieving a suitable fit for the project, with all the limitations in mind. For example, if a client has a set budget with minimal contingency, and flexibility around the look and feel of the product, the electronics team may need to investigate the best possible off-the-shelf solution, to meet the budget and ensure they can house the functionality.

However, if the client has more flexibility within the budget, but they want the slickest device to compete with the skinniest of smartphones, for example, then the electronic design team would be plumping for a more bespoke approach, creating a solution that will be the perfect match for the super slick housing, without comprising on functionality or product specifications.

Gilles Lambert on Unsplash

Keep it In-House

You may or may not have control over whether or not your product remains under ‘one roof’ during it’s evolution. But if you can keep it ‘in-house’ we highly recommend it. We would say that right? Because that’s how we work, but there is a good reason we recommend this route;

Remember, every single time you hand over your project to a new team for the next aspect of that product to be bought to life, there is a price.  That price may be that it takes you longer to complete the project, thus costing you more in budget. Or it might be that the next company to hand the project on to have a queue ahead of yours and could even have experienced delays beyond their control. At this point, you’d probably be wishing you’d now kept it all under ‘one roof’, for the sake of both your budget and your sanity!

Working with one large wider team, rather than lots of smaller, often disjointed organisations along the way, is the single most efficient way to get your product to market quicker and maybe, just maybe, a little more calmly!

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels

So there we have it – our reminder to consider electronics for product design, when you are hatching a concept!

To learn more about scope creep, check out this previous article. You can also find out more about the ‘looks like’ and ‘works like’ prototype stages in this feature.

To get in touch with us for advice, consultation or to learn more about how we can help you, drop us a line at andy@conficio.design.

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