Product Design: How to Launch Successful Products | Joey Roth | Skillshare

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Product Design: How to Launch Successful Products

teacher avatar Joey Roth, Industrial Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Assignment


    • 3.

      Finding Inspiration


    • 4.

      Selecting Materials


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Moving Into CAD


    • 7.



    • 8.



    • 9.

      Explore Design on Skillshare


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About This Class

Join acclaimed product designer Joey Roth for a behind-the-scenes look at how products come to life.

This hour-long class is a journey brimming with real-world insights, creative vision, and tactics for a successful launch in the marketplace. Joey shares his philosophy on design; offers practical tips for working with stakeholders, manufacturers, and marketers; and uses examples from his own work to show how to successfully negotiate the tension between your initial concept and practical outside forces.

This class is especially geared towards those with an interest in launching their own products, but anyone with an enthusiasm for industrial design, making, and aesthetics will find this class highly engaging. All students are encouraged to present their product ideas in the online gallery and exchange feedback.

This class is an encouraging, empowering experience that will change the way you look at objects all around you — and the way you create objects yourself.

Meet Your Teacher

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Joey Roth

Industrial Designer


Joey was born in San Francisco and grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Swarthmore with a BA in Industrial Design Theory. When taking a break from design, he likes long-distance skateboarding, reading, and perfecting his BBQ.

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1. Introduction: My name is Joey Roth. I'm a Product Designer. Today, we're at my friend Andrew's record shop called Beacon Sound. It's on Mississippi Avenue in Northeast Portland. Typically, people think about product design as making something really easy to use or really fast to use. I think that that's a valuable approach if you're designing something really functional like a medical device or a car. Things where if something isn't immediately intuitive, you could put somebody's life at risk or you could create a dangerous situation. But for things like listening to music, I've always found that there's a valuable trade-off between putting a little bit more effort into it and getting a much more rich experience as a result. My interest in product design is in a really general way, taking everyday rituals like making tea or having coffee or listening to music and designing products that kind of emphasize the beauty or the interesting aspects of those rituals so that you don't do them and just go through the motions and get the result. You actually think about the process as you're making your coffee or tea while listening to music. That's a really, really general way of getting to my approach, which is emphasizing aspects of the process that are interesting and de-emphasizing aspects of the process that are annoying. So, today, I'm going to be talking about how to go from an idea for a product, something that you think would be really beautiful or really cool or useful, and within the period of hopefully less than a year have that as a physical product in your hands that you can then sell to lots of people on the Internet. What I'm going to be saying over and over again is that the design itself, like the very starting idea, is really the most important thing. Everything after that is just allowing the world to experience that initial idea as closely as possible. Everything is very, very idealized before you get it down on paper. Everything just works out in your mind, which is great because it allows you more freedom to think about what you want it to be. But the first step of exposing that idea to reality is going to a sketchbook and actually drawing out some ideas of what it might be. So, I'm very, very excited to see the submissions in the gallery. I love it when I show my early versions of products to other designers whose work I really appreciate, whose opinion I respect, and they give me feedback, and that's a very big part of my process. So, I hope to get that process going with people who submit to the gallery and ideally, I'd like to see one or two products launched from this class. Depending on the work that's submitted, I would love to help with that process. 2. Your Assignment: So, the assignment that will go along with this class is going to be creating a product and this can either be something that you think up in the course of watching the class and hearing me talk about inspiration and how I think about that. Or it can be something you've had kicking around in your head for a long time and this is the opportunity to show it and get feedback on it. What I want to see would be a product image. So, renderings sketches to show how you're thinking about the design and then also a landing page and this could either be like a kickstarter style, crowdfunding landing page or just a page on your website where you'll take pre orders. But a landing page that is the world's first exposure to your product. So, that would show images of the product that the most important aspects whether they be aesthetic features or functional features, detail images that call out, what's really important about your design and a call to action that allow people to preorder or contribute to the crowdfunding campaign. So, these skills I want you to come away with after viewing my class are primarily in terms of approach. The approach to take to designing a product, how to think about your idea and refine it through each of the stages towards manufacturing, so that it's a success and it represents your initial inspiration as closely as possible. The timeframe for completing the project really depends on how much of it you've done already. So, if you already have an idea for a product and you're really just going to be learning about a good way to put together a landing page and present the product. I've done that kind of thing in like a day and then the next day I come back to it after being away from it for a while and take a look and see if it's still really works. If you're designing a product from scratch and you don't even really know what you want your product to be at, definitely give yourself at least a week or two to really think through it. I get my best ideas for those early design stages and I'm not actually sitting down at my desk trying to force myself to work. I could be walking my dog or going for a run and then those really good initial ideas tend to come. When it's time to translate that initial idea into a 3-D model or even into final sketches, that's when really putting them in time in your studio starts to pay off. So, if you're starting totally from scratch, really give yourself some time to play with the ideas. 3. Finding Inspiration: Inspiration is a challenging thing for most designers to unpack, because it's kind of the least consciously accessible part of the whole process. For a long time, I thought, these ideas just kind of come to me. Then, the design process starts once I want to pick an idea that makes sense, and then start bringing that down the road to being a product. But once I started to think about it more and spoke to other creative people about inspiration, I've started to be able to get a handle on what's actually happening and how to get that inspiration process going, even if I'm not feeling particularly inspired at that time. What design really is taking a lot of different stimuli that hit you throughout the day, when you're not even thinking about design and you're just going about, going for a run, or cooking food, or hanging out with your friends. Anything that's kind of coming into your senses, sounds, and images, and smells. As a creative person, you're unconsciously filtering those and sticking with the stimuli that are really interesting or really speak to you in some way. When I was working on the teapot and I was just thinking a lot about tea preparation, and household goods, and the ritual involved in preparing tea, I wasn't really thinking about a form yet. But just, because that was on my mind and I would go about my day, I was subconsciously filtering for stimuli that could eventually lead to the form that the teapot would take, or the feeling that I want somebody to get from using that teapot. That's where the design starts to kind of come together. The best way to get ideas for design or to get inspired, would be to just kind of think about why you want to design this thing. Not even what the thing is yet. Not what the form is, not how big it's going to be, not even like a price point, just why you want this thing to exist in the world, or how you want people to feel when they're using this thing, or how you want to feel once it exists. Then, that'll sort of prime your mind to start filtering things from your daily life that will then inspire what the design is going to be. It's kind of weird, but I use the voice recorder on my phone to just sort of talk through what I'm thinking about while I'm thinking about it. That works for me because as soon as I start to write things down or sketch, that does add that dose of reality to it and the design changes a little bit to fit in with that. If I don't want to move on to that stage yet, recording just a verbal description of what I'm thinking, preserves better than any other way of recording the spontaneity and the kind of idealism of that stage. You know, it's like if you have a dream, as soon as you can remember it, but as soon as you try to describe it to somebody, if you wake up next to your partner and you tell them about this crazy dream you had, the content of that dream actually changes because you're talking about it, and you have to kind of add some logic to it in order to even put it into words. That's kind of how the first initial inspiration stage works with a design. When it's in your mind, it's in this sort of magical space where it can make sense to you even if you can't even describe it to somebody else. So, verbalizing it does change it a little bit, but I think it changes it the least versus starting to sketch or even writing words about it. The teapot, I had this image of a space where it would be used, and I actually thought about the space way before I actually thought about the product. The space was sort of almost like a mythical factory that was made completely out of wood. All of the machines were wood, the machine tools were wood and obviously that makes no sense, but a metal teapot was being made on these wood machines. That contrast between something very hard and angular coming off of a very soft inorganic point of origin, is that first image I had of the teapot. I think that got expressed eventually in the glass tube, and the way that when you make tea, the major volume of the teapot is really the tea leaves and the tea. That's an extremely organic texture in organic form. The stainless steel and the glass is a very minor part of that picture, even though that is what the teapot is made out of. Then with the speakers, I sort of imagined having a barbecue with my friends and how we would be playing music. The speakers aren't really outdoor speakers, I mean you can use them outside but I don't think that's how many people use the speakers. But, just in terms of that first like image that I was designing around, it was people outside just sort of doing nothing but listening to music and sharing that with each other. That was the image that eventually inspired the speaker system. But this is like really, I mean I had a lot of different ideas that led to the forums eventually. But at this stage, it's really about letting your mind wander and almost trying to capture the feeling that you want people to have, when they see or they use this product that you're coming up with. 4. Selecting Materials: The the issue of material selection, it's interesting because it does span a lot of the process. Materials are often some of the first things I think about. The materials actually influence the form more than the form requiring certain materials, but it can go either way. When you're sketching, I think that it's very, very useful to imagine the things you're making as existing in a certain material and not think of it as just lines on a page. Even if you're not drawing the material, like you're not drawing the grain of the wood or the sheen of the ceramic, just making a label and just writing ceramic and pointing to a certain shape or writing Baltic birch in point of view of a certain shape, whatever material you want to use, just keeps you thinking in terms of this being a product versus this being a sketch, which is important. I knew that I wanted to use materials that weren't typically used in speakers especially at this price point. Initially, I wanted to build the shell. I knew I wanted the shell to be fairly curved. I didn't want to do speakers that were in a box because even though I think a lot of boxy speakers are very beautiful, that form had been explored so much. The reason I shifted to design from writing, I wasn't sure what I could really improve with that shape. Whereas speakers that the body itself actually served as a waveguide and could be beautiful at the same time, I was really interested in, and that is the type of speaker. But most of them are made either of leaved wood or some sort of polymer that can be easily shaped into this form. I really wanted to use metal, spun metal for the shells initially. When I started talking to the audio engineer I ended up working with on this and I started to run some simulations with him using a metal shell because of the reflective nature of that material and the resonance that could form, it would be very difficult to dampen the enclosure of the size. It would have just needed to be a lot bigger with a lot more damping material. So, I was looking at different materials and porcelain just made a lot of sense because it could be formed into the shape that I wanted. It's actually a very good material for speaker-building because it's extremely dense but it doesn't have the same sort of resonance as a metal enclosure would have. Once I chose porcelain, that material added its own influence to the design. That's a big part of my approach with product design. Once you select materials or select one or two main materials that you want to build the design around, you have to listen to what those materials want and not force them to do things they don't want to do. If those materials want to essentially be with other materials in the design, you need to take that very seriously. So, the porcelain was the first material I chose and then when I was thinking of how to close it up, cork made a lot of sense because it's an electrical insulator. It can seal the porcelain without being a completely, completely sealed enclosure. Some pressure can pass through, and it looks really beautiful along with white glaze porcelain. The porcelain shows the cork more or less. It just made so much sense with this shape, and same thing with the stands which are made from Baltic birch plywood. I wasn't even sure I was going to have a separate stand. I was thinking of molding some kind of feet into the porcelain. But then the process, which is basically hand throwing, made attaching any non-symmetrical shape kind of clunky with manufacturing. So, listening to the manufacturing process and the material, I decided on an external stand. Again, the natural finished Baltic birch plywood was very functional because having the grains go in opposite directions prevents the stand from warping and creates a lot of stability for the speaker, but like the cork, it also just looks right with the porcelain. When I was really drilling down to how is the driver going to attach to the porcelain shell while maintaining that air seal and not allowing the driver to vibrate against the shell during operation, in the back of my mind, I was still thinking about that first emotion that I associated with this design. In subtle ways, I think that that was influencing the really technical choices I was making. Once you have that inspiration, the process of product design is just maintaining the essence of that idea or maintaining the meaning you want people to get out of your design, while exposing the design to progressively more brutal forms of reality. So, with the speakers, when I was sketching, still a lot of things made sense that did not make sense once I moved to CAD. When I started mocking these up in CAD, I saw that the angle at which I needed to cut the stands was a lot different than what I did when I was sketching. That led to the development of this little notch system, where one piece notches into the other and there's a friction fit between the two so that they don't come apart. Similarly, adding the felt lining to the stands, that didn't come out until after I was done with the CAD and started prototyping. The porcelain was just too slippery against the bare wood. I really didn't want to add any kind of rubber so wool felt made a lot of sense. We were already using it for the damping material. So, we had that material on hand. But really the process of getting from that sketch to the first prototype is about compromising when necessary, negotiating that tension between what the product needs in order to exist and what your initial idea was and making choices about material and form that will make it possible to manufacture and possible to manufacture at a price that you can then make money off of when it's time to start selling and taking pre-orders, while not losing any of the essential qualities of your initial idea. 5. Sketching: So, it is always important throughout every stage to be thinking about what you're doing is leading to a successful product that you'll be selling. That doesn't mean you have a form in mind that you need to achieve at all costs because every step of the process involves negotiating that form based on requirements that come up from sketching, CAD or prototyping. But, you do need to keep in mind that there is this end goal, which is manufacturing and introducing this product and selling it to people. That acts as this distant lighthouse that you can adjust your course maybe a little off this or that way but you can see this goal in the distance and that keeps things on track as you're doing your explorations. The value of sketching, at least for me, is moving your idea from that magical place inside your mind where everything works out and everything is brilliant and giving it a little dose of reality where it has to still be really good design on a piece of paper. I don't personally use sketching as something I'd present to anybody. It's really something for me to work through the form. Write notes about how I want a certain thing to look even if I can't render it in the sketch. It'll be a reminder that it needs to be a certain way when I move into CAD and prototyping. Sketching is also really good to just rapidly try different versions, radically different versions of what the design could be because it's so quick. Sketching really requires a lot of practice to remain fluent with it. So, I try to put some time aside everyday to sketch stuff even if I don't have a project coming up right away. There are always ideas flowing through my mind, I'm sure there are always ideas flowing through your mind. Sketching is a really good way to just train yourself to translate those ideas to something usable. It also changes the way that you think through things. Every bit of this process provides feedback to that initial inspiration point so then when you come up with your next project, you'll know what it takes to get it from that idea, to manufacturing and to selling. That will loop back and influence how you think about things from the very beginning. So, for a long time I used sketch books but the issue with sketchbooks for me is that I was always losing them. I'd find these sketchbooks like buried under a lot of papers or a lot of stuff in my studio half a year later, full of brilliant ideas that I just forgot about because I didn't have them at my fingertips. So, what I do now, I have a phone, tablet that has a stylus built into it and Autodesk makes a really good sketching program that has pressure sensitivity, different types of brushes you can use. Pressure sensitivity is really important for sketching because so much of communicating your idea to the piece of paper, to the screen is calling out certain parts. So, if a certain part is important and I want to focus on it later, I often give the line a very strong value. If something is not totally, I'm not sure, if I want it to look that way yet, I pencil it in very lightly as an indication to myself that this might change. So, the ability to do that is really important and up until I got this, paper was really the only good way to do that because I wasn't going to just sit at my desk with a Wacom tablet. I wanted to be out and looking at things and just going through my day. When something seemed good enough to put down on a piece of paper, I want to just be able to take it out and start sketching. Sketching apps are good enough now that even if you don't have a phone with a stylus, doing it with your finger can also work. Holding a pen or some kind of writing implement is such a physical association I have now, that it does get my mind in the mode for sketching but at the end of the day it's really more like a prop because I could be doing that with my finger on a screen. So, whatever you feel the most comfortable with, having some way to jot down quick visual representations of what you're thinking about, and then, learning from those representations as you're going is really the only requirement. The reason I advise against people using sketching as a form of presentation is that it needs to retain that spontaneity in that sense that it's really just for you. You're still inside your own head when you're sketching and it's just a way to get a little bit closer to that final product versus just thinking about it. A lot of product designers do use sketching as presentation. They're very good sketchers and it's pretty amazing to see them render a very beautiful image of a product. But that's a skill in and of itself and I don't know if that type of sketching is as valuable for the initial development as very quick, don't have to be beautiful, like notes to yourself type sketches and that's what I'm advocating. I know that a sketch is ready to move on to the next stage, which is CAD, when I'm asking questions about the design that I can't really answer just through the sketchbook. So, I'm starting to ask, all right, how long is this tube that connects to this box? I can draw that tube in that box and get a sense of what the proportions would be on a sketch book but the level of detail I can get to answer that question is just not sufficient. At that point, I'm starting to think about the actual measurements of things and I'm starting to think how will this really fit into the human hand. How far do I want this control from the thing that it's controlling? That's when I start to go on the computer and really create a 3D model. CAD is the longest stage for me in the development process because versus sketching and certainly versus thinking about it, CAD forces you to answer those questions and it gives you the answers to those questions. So, CAD is really where you work the design, expose it to the level of reality that it will need to encounter before you bring it to manufacturing, and work out the details of everything. That process has its own subset of stages though. The first stage, you just want to get the shape on your computer. Often, during that stage, you'll need to change the design. It will give you more ideas about how the design can be improved. So, when you start going from sketch into CAD, you need to be totally open to the design changing based on what that transition from sketching the CAD is telling you. At all stages, you need to be open to what the process is telling you but that's a really critical stage when you're going from 2D to 3D for the first time. 6. Moving Into CAD: So, as I said before, you know that it's time to move into CAD when you're asking questions that you can't answer through sketching. Usually, those questions are about different dimensions or the way that certain things will fit together in a detailed way. I use a 3D CAD program when I go into that phase, but you can also do this with a program like Illustrator and keep it two-dimensional. It's just important to work out every single detail, so there's no question about what you want the form to be. When you first start with the model, just focus on the most basic overall shape and then, you can drill down in terms of the details as you get that form on the screen. You don't really want to get more detailed, though, until you're happy with the form at the level of detail you have it. So, for example, with this speaker cone, the very first thing I would do is sketch this spline that will then be rotated around to create the shell. Having that shell in front of me then I can rotate without the binding posts, without the driver, just this very basic shape. If I like that shape, then I can start moving on to the attachment points for the driver, I could start seeing where the cork is going to fit in. But I really need to be happy with this shape before I get to a further level of detail. So, CAD really runs the gamut. It starts once you go from sketches as form development all over again. Then towards the end of CAD, the CAD phase, you're going to be defining the very specific features that you'll be able to send out for a prototype or build a prototype yourself. The second part of CAD is you know what you want the design to be and now you need to articulate it in a very detailed way so that somebody else, the manufacturer, the prototyper, can look at what you've produced and create what you had in mind. Really thinking that what is on the screen is going to be in your hands and the manufacturer is not going to do any interpretation or idealization that you've been doing up to that point with sketching and thinking about the design in your head, what you have on the screen is literally what is going to be produced. So, for example, something like this stand. In the CAD program, I would give the angle of this cutout which is 90 degrees 45 from the central line. I do the measurement of the top to the bottom, the sides and then, the cutout right here, and how it would connect to the felt piece. Similarly here, I would give the total depth, the length, the height, the measure of this cutout and then, the ellipsis that's cut into here. Tolerances are also very important when you're putting together a schematic. Depending on who you're manufacturing with, they'll probably have their own guidelines and how they want you to tolerance the drawings. But on a very basic level, tolerances just mean how much variation you can accept with a certain measurement. So, a piece that needs to be really closely toleranced would be like the top of this ceramic piece, because it needs to connect to this driver which has its own tolerances. That's just telling the manufacturer, if the holes are outside of this range of measurements, you need to reject that piece and it's not going to connect to the driver. You need to keep the holes within this range of measurements that I'm setting out, so that it connects to each of these other pieces that we're bringing in. Something that would not require as tight tolerances would be like the back of this speaker, because the cork has such an elastic form. I only really need to have tolerances of this hole down to the millimeter, which is very loose tolerances. Because within a millimeter variation, the cork will still fit into that piece and allow the design to be successful. So, tolerances are like a guide to manufacturing as to how precise a certain measurement needs to be. Because if you don't add tolerances and you just give a non-toleranced measurement to every part of the design, the manufacturer won't know which parts really need to be precise and which parts they can have some more variation. That kind of brings up that when you're doing something on the computer in CAD, it's the most realistic version of design up to this point, but it's still extremely idealized. Manufacturing something out of materials introduces tremendous variability into the ideal design that you have on your computer. During the final stage of CAD, when you're starting to talk to different manufacturers and thinking about the prototype, you need to look at that design and think, this is actually going to be made out of these materials, what needs to fit together, what needs really tight tolerances, and in what spaces can I accept some more variability? The looser your tolerances in general, the lower your manufacturing costs, so you only should have as tight tolerances as you need. So, here's an example of a schematic that I sent to the manufacturer who did the original amplifier for the speaker system, with verbal descriptions of how each piece fits together. This could be a really, really useful adjunct to a dimensioned and toleranced schematic because it's giving the manufacturer a guide in plain language for how the different pieces fit together. A drawing like this really fills the gap between your intention and the schematics you've presented. It can actually make up for any information you accidentally leave out of the schematic itself. Then, here is the schematic of the same piece that I showed. You can see it has the front, left, back, right, and top view, with all of the dimensions spaced out. Because this is it's own piece, it doesn't have to fit into any part of the ceramic, you can see that the level of precision I do is to the 10th of the millimeter, whereas with the speaker itself, I would do to the 100th of the millimeter. So, at the end of this phase, you want to have your first representation of your product that is meant to be shown to somebody else and communicate to them without even really talking to you in person, what this should look like and how it should work. So, for that reason, like I said, breaking the design down into its individual parts, creating an individual page with dimensions for each part, and then a page that shows how they all fit together, is really important. The other really important thing to give to a manufacturer is a bill of materials which is just a BOM. Now all that is, is a list of each different part and how many of them go into the final design. So, for the amplifier, for example, there's one panel, front panel, one back panel, one side panel, one left panel, one right panel, the wood top piece, the cast iron bottom piece. Then, there are eight of these front screws, eight of these back screws, so that's actually 16 screws altogether and they're all the same. Then, there are three of these larger screws, four rubber feet. Basically, just every piece that goes into your product, you want to list them in a spreadsheet and you can add that to the end of the document pack. The great thing about the bill of materials is, once you get quotes back from the manufacturer, they just literally use your bill of materials, add cost of processes to each one, but put a price next to each part. So then, that lets you know where you can modify the design to get to a certain price point. You can also negotiate with the manufacturer based on the bill of materials that you sent. Well, the CAD processes also can be intense emotionally because it's the first point on this journey from idea to product where you can really get stuck. If you hit a block and something needs to be overcome, it can be frustrating and it also can be less fun to refine and work through an idea, than it is to just come up with the idea initially. Because the initial spark of inspiration has so much excitement attached to it and it can be less exciting to make that idea coherent with reality and coherent with manufacturing. What I've found though, is because there's a challenge with that phase, when you break through that problem or when you come up with a solution that maintains the meaning of your design while allowing it to work with manufacturing, it's an even better feeling than initially coming up with the design because you're proving to yourself and you're starting to prove to the world that your idea is viable and that it can survive with this added level of reality. So, knowing that there's going to be that pay off, that it's much greater to have a good idea that can survive the CAD process, it keeps you motivated and makes it worthwhile. But also, being open to the fact that maybe your design will not survive the CAD process, failing at the CAD phase is so much better than failing at the manufacturing phase, you actually want to expose your design to the most reality possible before you start prototyping, definitely before you start manufacturing. So that, if any problems come up, they come up then, as opposed to coming up once you've invested in tooling already. 7. Manufacturing: So, manufacturing, I think of as two stages, there's prototyping, then there's the actual production run. A lot of the time you'll work with two different companies to do either stage. Companies that specialize in prototyping often have very different setups from manufacturers, who are factories or brokers who work with different factories. Really, prototyping you want to do everything you can do before doing the large investments that are often required for manufacturing. So, the large investments that you'd do to get a production run started really are in tooling. All tooling is having tools basically custom made for making your specific part. So, there's not a lot of tooling involved in the speaker but the amplifier, for example, to have these pieces of sheet metal cut to these dimensions and bent in a certain way. There are dyes made out of tool steel that I've had made that are just for making these parts, and they're put on a dye punching machine and they churn out a bunch of these parts, a lot in a small amount of time. But those tools cost $30,000. I want to know that those shapes that the tools are being made for are exactly the right shapes for this amplifier before putting down that amount of money, because modifying tooling once it's made is difficult and can often compromise quality. So, I prototyped and prototyped and prototyped this part using, first a bandsaw basically for cutting the sheet metal, and then moving up to waterjet cut process to get exactly what it would be, and then finally, building the die cut tooling. When I was prototyping the speaker, the build and sound quality had to be tested simultaneously because they depended on each other so much. So, the first prototype, the ceramic shell was basically as it is now because it's a hand-thrown process. So, there wasn't that much difference between doing a prototype and just doing a lot more of them for a production run. All of the other parts like the cork was much more roughly cut because this is die cut as part of the production, but it was just a hand-cut cork for the prototype that didn't affect the sound quality at all and it looked pretty similar. The driver is now a custom-made part to my specifications but for the prototyping, we just had to choose a very similar spect off-the-shelf part that looked different but had similar TS parameters, which are just the measurements that define how a driver works. So, we can test the sound quality that way even though it looked quite different with the subwoofer that was an addition to the ceramic speakers if you use after I launch the speakers. The first design, the actual subwoofer itself, which is the driver and the radiator built into a ceramic shell, the sheet metal would actually come up and hold this part of it to the entire frame. What ended up happening is that bending that long piece of sheet metal, it was very hard to get that 90-degree angle as precise as it needed to be and so the subwoofer would not sit in a straight way on the rest of the base. After trying to figure out different ways to resolve that, I went back to CAD and basically redesigned the entire structure of the subwoofer. So, now it just rests on its amplifier. You can see it's not permanently attached at all, it just rests on these four rubber feet with the wood that references both the speaker stands and the top of the amplifier. I think this is a much more successful design that I would not have thought of if it hadn't been for that manufacturing constraint. So, even though it can be very frustrating to have to change this idea that has become such a part of you over this process, challenges that come up during prototyping before manufacturing, if you interpret them in the right way, have the possibility of making your design a lot stronger. There are a lot of different answers to the question of how to make something once you have the idea and you know exactly what it's going to be. A lot of people go the maker route and actually make each one themselves. What I've found is although that can lead to really good outcomes in terms of the product, it's more difficult to turn that into a business that supports you completely and allows you to devote all of your time to designing and running a business. I mean, my motivation in doing my first product independently was that I wanted it to provide enough income so that I didn't have to have another job, and I can really devote my time to become a better designer and to building this brand that I wanted to build. If that's also your goal, it makes so much more sense to find a manufacturer to produce your product and then to find a fulfillment solution to ship your product, rather than handling that stuff yourself. Because if you handle it yourself, unless you're doing very, very, very expensive work that you basically need to find a couple of customers and that will be enough to support you continuing to do your work. Shipping, making, and really just coordinating that whole process on your own will completely eat the time that you should be using to come up with new designs or to come up with new ways to sell the work that you've done already. So, because there's so much good manufacturing available, I certainly, certainly encourage almost every designer who asks me to find a good manufacturer who they can trust and who understands their vision and understands their product, and produce their work that way. So, assuming you have listened to that and decided that you want to find a manufacturer, I found the best, best, best way is through a referral. So, if you know anybody who's already doing a product that's wonderful, most people don't. So, a great way is to find a product that you like or that inspires you or even if you don't like it that much, it uses similar materials to what you're thinking of using or is assembled using a similar process. Say you wanted to do a little wearable mechanical eye that can learn about your day through wearing it and walking around, it could be good to find somebody who did a small wearable camera, or it could be good to find somebody who did a smartwatch, any design that doesn't do the same thing but would require similar types of manufacturing processes and engineering. Once you find somebody who's doing that, just reach out to them. See if you can buy them beer or coffee and just learn about what they did to make the product and who they worked with, what that process was like. If you're not doing a product that's in their space and is competitive with theirs, I'd say nine out of 10 times they'd be happy to share that information. I'm always happy to share it. Most of the designers or entrepreneurs I know are definitely happy to share, and that's really the best way to find a manufacturer. There are ways to do it using online marketplaces, Alibaba is one, is another one. For prototyping, that can be really good but for an actual manufacturing run, where you're investing tens of thousands of dollars in tooling and materials. I've always felt more comfortable working with a manufacturer who I know through a referral and who has a personal connection to someone who I'm friends with or who is a contact of mine. If you do want to just get started really quick and you don't really know anyone who's doing this and you don't want to spend your time right now on building relationship, definitely is a great place to go to get prototypes made. That's basically a website where lots of US-based manufacturers, mainly machine shops and job shops have profiles and you make a profile as a potential buyer, you post your design. You can just upload that PDF schematic that you made in the last section or update your 3D files, a lot of the time that works as well, with the description, an idea of how many you want to make. Usually for prototypes, I like to make about five just to have enough to pass around and give other people a chance to use it. Then within a week, you usually have price quotes from different manufacturers around the country. So, I've used a lot to prototype stuff and it works really well. So that's a good way to get that first version, that first prototype into your hands. Now, sometimes a manufacturer who did prototypes for you is also able to manufacture the production run itself. In which case you already have established that relationship using a much, much lower cost state with just prototyping, where you're both taking on less risk. If that's successful, that could be the bridge to get you into manufacturing with them. You want to definitely ask, for examples of other work they've done that is somewhat similar to yours in terms of process. So, they should send you images but preferably physical samples of cast pieces of metal, if your product requires metal casting or injection molded shells, if your product requires an injection molded enclosure. So, you should actually have physical samples of that stuff. You don't need to visit your prototyper because you're really just engaging them for a very specific job. Definitely meet with your manufacturer in person at the manufacturing facility to make sure that everything looks good and everything is okay, because that's really a long-term relationship you'll hopefully be starting up with them. Most products if they're successful, have way more than the first production run and you have a chance to change and improve things in each production run. So, these are people you're are going to be working with for a long time so it really makes sense to invest in that relationship. You should also get referrals to other companies have manufactured for, you should contact the founder or if it's a large company, the manager of that product to ask about the experience that they had with the manufacturer. You should also, before starting a production, visit the manufacturer, see their facilities, actually see parts being made, speak to the people on the line to see what the work conditions are like, and definitely make sure that they understand your product. When you meet with them or even over the phone, you should basically ask them in so many words to describe your product back to you in their own words so that you can tell that they're not just blindly making parts and putting them together, they really do understand how your product should function and what the feeling of it should be when it's a finished product. That doesn't mean manufacturers need to think it's a good idea, I don't think manufacturers are often the target market for my work. So, I've had lots of conversations with people especially with the packaging, where I just wanted to do a raw cardboard package, and they tell me that it would only be $0.01 more expensive to do a full four-color printed box. I've just said no, that's not because of cost, I just actually don't want that to look that way. So, sometimes they don't have to understand the aesthetic, they don't have to understand the market you're going for, but they absolutely need to understand physically what the product needs to be. Once you choose a manufacturer, you definitely want to make sure that they're comfortable with no more than half of the payment of the production run up front. You want to not pay the second half until that production run has been delivered to you and you've had a chance to inspect it. Because that's really, unless you come up with the whole contract, which usually doesn't happen unless it's a much larger production run. If you're just doing it as a thousand piece run or something like that, your only protection is that second payment. So, you want to make sure that they're comfortable only taking less than half up front with the remainder upon inspection of the first run. Almost any legitimate manufacturer, if you also seem legitimate and your product is viable will be totally fine with that. So, it's a pretty big red flag if they want the entire payment upfront. The manufacturer will then send you an off tool prototype which is after your tooling is made, they basically do a rehearsal of the manufacturing process and send you the result of that, which is the off tool sample. That is the last sample you will get before the thousand or so show up. What I do is I take pictures of it and any problems that come up, even though you don't want there to be any problems, usually there's some issues. They shouldn't be big issues, they should just be with like how an edge is resolved or how the shape of a curve is resolved in the way that the part is done, so things that can be adjusted on the manufacturing line. I take really detailed pictures, then I go into Photoshop and I mark them up using red circles and red lines and red text, calling out the different parts of the off tool sample that need to be changed for manufacturing. Then, once I submit that feedback to the manufacturer, I always require another off tool sample with those changes sent before the actual manufacturing happens. 8. Marketing: So, building a landing page, we've been thinking about a landing page, can be valuable before you're ready to start taking pre-orders for your product. Thinking in terms of a landing page, in terms of a visual narrative interspersed with text that's going to represent your product and get people excited about it, is a really good framework for the entire process, and I'd even say if you want to, you can start working on the landing page as soon as you have sketches, as soon as you have any images that you can use as placeholders for photographs eventually. Usually, you can use the off tool sample for photography and you'd use those photos to build a landing page either on a crowdfunding platform or on your own website where you can describe the product, show different images and then have a call to action where people can either pre-order or make a contribution to your campaign. The time to do that is as soon as you are happy with the off tool sample because you'll need those funds in order to start manufacturing and do that first payment for the production run to begin. So, while you're writing the copy, you're choosing the images and you're creating a whole hierarchy of information on that page, you want to think about those first bits of inspiration that you narrow down to those one or two points that you optimize for the whole design and use that page and use the whole presentation to just make those as clear as possible. I found that the most successful landing pages are often the most simple and they're judged completely on the value of the product rather than the design of the landing page. The design of the landing page should really disappear and be a small a barrier between the visitor and a product as possible. The core of a good landing page, almost any landing page, it's going to be a hero image, just a really beautiful image of the product at the top. It could also be a video. For a video, it's often great to have a similar image as the freeze-frame that people see when the video window comes up. The product is still right there if they want to click play, they can click play, but it acts as a hero image even if they don't view the video. What I've found ineffective videos is really just a demonstration of the product. There could be another video where you as the designer, talk a little bit about it and go into more detail. But for the top of the page, you really want to make it all about the product. I would even have a soundtrack, but no spoken words in that top video, just really make it about the product itself and about the design. Right under that, that hero image or video, I'd like to have a very brief description of the product of different features or this could be aesthetic features or functional features. For example, on the Sorapot page, I have an image of the teapot and then it says sorapot is a simple minimalist teapot made from stainless steel and glass. So, just a very simple description like that is often effective. Now, going from that very basic framework, what works in a landing page depends entirely on what kind of product you made. So, something like the speaker system, if you go to the page I have for it, there's a lot more copy and a couple of bullet-pointed lists. Because it's a more technical product, people are going to have questions about specific design choices I made, how I achieved a certain sound quality, why I chose certain materials. The key with all of this is to limit yourself to paragraphs as no more than three sentences. I usually like to keep it at one or two sentences as descriptions of the images that I'm showing. For something more technical like the speaker system or like the camera that I worked on, an FAQ is a really good way to communicate a lot of information without presenting visitors with a wall of text. Even if those aren't questions that people had when they visited the page, seeing them asked can often provide information in a way that they'll remember, and in a way that's more interesting to read than just exposition from the designer. Really beautiful rich images are often more effective than rich beautiful text. Text should really present the information you need to be very short and very succinct. It's not really an app, it's on the web now. It's called Hemingway. Just look up Hemingway writing app. It's called Hemingway because Ernest Hemingway had a style that was extremely succinct and functional and spare, but it lets you write text and in real time, it has an algorithm that counts wordcount complexity, how many sentences are in a paragraph and the color of what you're writing changes from green to yellow to red depending on how complicated and overly wordy it is. I found that as an amazing tool for writing copy on landing pages because it really forces you to say what you're saying in a simple, easily read, effective way. Really, your goal is to create a narrative even if it's not an explicit narrative, but create a hierarchy of information that will allow somebody who's never encountered your product and has no access to the process he went through in creating it to very quickly understand it and then want it. I think that a landing page is absolutely go oriented. You want to interest people in your design and eventually, you want to convert that interest into a sale, but you have to really not seem desperate on your landing page. Being so goal oriented it is very easy to seem desperate and I've seen a lot of desperate landing pages, and there's nothing that turns people off of a piece of creative work like a sense that the designer or the creator is desperate. For some reason, it's just like toxic for people encountering it. I'd make the call to action, definitely clear, a nice square button but not huge, not an obnoxious color, just there with a price next to it, very, very clear. Basically, a landing page is, you're really just stating the facts in a very elegant way. The design really does need to sell itself and needs to stand up on its own and the landing page needs to communicate your confidence in the design's ability to stand on its own. So, for that reason, it needs to not add anything because the implication is the design, it doesn't need anything added to it. It just needs to be explained in the most clear way possible. So, just as a landing page is the first way potential customers will encounter your product when they hear about it, it's also the way that I want to encounter your products in the gallery. Constructing that narrative where you have a combination of images and text as well as an FAQ or maybe even a video is a great way for me to get to know your work, to assess it and to make suggestions to make it better. So, no matter where you are in the design process, whether you're still doing sketches or you've moved on to cat or you're even ready to start cutting your first tools, putting together a landing page with images you have now is a wonderful way to share what you're doing in the project gallery. 9. Explore Design on Skillshare: way.