If you are looking for an electronic product design provider there are often several important considerations. One of the most important is often location. Do you look for a company located in your own country or located locally to you or do you look into using a designer from a low-cost Far East country for instance. This is one area where although cost will of course be a primary concern the problems of using an offshore electronic product design provider needs to be carefully considered. Communication, time zone difference and skill level is the key thing here. If your project is simple to define and won’t evolve during the design process then this can make using an offshore provider an attractive option. However if that is not the case then there can often be big problems caused by poor communication due to language barriers and delays waiting for responses to issues as they arise. Also it is important to consider the working relationship between you and the designer or designers on your project and of course this can be something where the phrase “you get what you pay for” comes into play. It is rare when designing a new product that ideas, improvements and problems don’t come up as part of the design process and it is therefore important that the designer you select will ensure the final product is as brilliant / cost-effective / usable etc as it can possibly be.
The skill level of your designer is also very important. Designing electronic products is a very skilled job where design decisions can have very costly implications further down the line. Poor design decisions can (and do!) lead to product failures in the field which can become very costly to deal with, both from a financial and your customers perception of your company viewpoint. This is an area where years of design experience typically count more than anything else.
Finding the right designer for a new electronic product design can be a daunting task. The design work needed may range from simple printed circuit board design, to technical consulting, electronic design, PCB layout, enclosure design, manufacturing a prototype, embedded programming and technical authoring. Producing a quotation for a new electronic product design requires the basic specifications to be defined and a good electronic product design company will often be able to help define this with you.
A well designed and manufactured product starts with good planning. Circuits are often first modelled using a prototype board, before the overall design is turned into a final PCB design. Evaluation and testing needs to be carried out a specific points during the development to ensure that the design will not only perform as required but also in the different possible operating conditions.
Ergonomics and aesthetics are also often important factors in a new product development. Ergonomics refers to the factors which make a product efficient, safe and comfortable to use. Aesthetics refers to the things which make a product look and feel good. When designing a products user interface, for example, a designer will typically try to ensure that the switches and other control components are located to allow them to be easily operated, and that components which provide feedback, such as LED indicators and LCD screens, can be easily seen. A product’s style is or course a more subjective area as fashion constantly changes and different people can have very different opinions on what looks stylish.
Most electronic product designs require programming of some sort, usually for embedded devices but often also to provide PC connectivity or Internet server communications. Low cost embedded devices are incredibly powerful these days and are often programed in C, C++ or Java.
Once the development of a product is complete documentation needs to be produced for production manufacture. For cost sensitive or high volume products using an off-shore manufacturer is often an attractive choice at this stage to achieve lowest manufacture cost. Therefore the manufacture documentation needs to be very thorough, accurate and simple to follow. The manufacturer needs to know not only exactly how to build the product but also how to test it prior it being shipped to customers.
IBEX provides electronic product design, embedded software development, PC software development, technology consultancy in South East England on the Surrey / Kent border, 30 minutes from Central London.