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Study notes

Product design

  • Levels: AS, A Level
  • Exam boards: Edexcel, OCR, IB

Product design is about much more than style. Design goes right to the heart of a product. Good design contributes to a products usefulness as well as its look.

The traditional product design mix emphasises three elements:

  • Function
  • Economic manufacture
  • Aesthetics

What do we mean by these three elements?


  • The way a product works.
  • Does it do what it needs to do?
  • Is the product reliable?


  • How the product appeals to the customer in terms of how it looks, feels etc.
  • Based on the subjective judgement of customer
  • A popular way to differentiate a product

Economic Manufacture

  • Does the design allow the product to be made and sold profitably?
  • How much value is added during the production process?

Common Features of Products that Successfully Emphasise Function in the Design Mix

  • More predictable and stable demand
  • Longer product life cycles
  • Lower promotional costs
  • Build reputation for quality based on reliability
  • Economic manufacture through economies of scale

Common Features of Products that Successfully Emphasise Aesthetics in the Design Mix

  • High added value
  • Demand fuelled by customer aspiration
  • Potentially shorter product life cycle
  • Attracts imitation = need for design protection
  • Need for greater promotional support

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