Front end product design, sometimes called fuzzy front end, is truly the ambiguous and creative phase of the design process. It is a total brain dump, where ideas fill up whiteboards and out there solutions get tossed around. In this stage you take a step back and tackle the big questions such as:
- How can I make this process or product more efficient and/or better?
- What market opportunities have emerged that I can now capitalize on?
- What is possible now that wasn’t before?
It can be considered a bit high level, but nonetheless necessary as it helps you brainstorm new ideas and/or clearly refine existing ones.
Traditionally, front end design happened within the walls of a business. Designers and researchers studied consumer behavior in order to make inferences and decisions. Kind of closed-minded, don’t you think?
Well (and it’s about time!), this process is changing. Consumers are no longer studied like fish in a tank and are increasingly invited to share their expert ‘customer’ opinion.
So you may be thinking: this sounds complicated. How can I co-design with my customers? Here are a couple of ways to do so:
- Idea contest
In this scenario, you (the business) make an open call to your stakeholders (i.e. customers, suppliers, employees, etc.) asking them to help you resolve a particular challenge. To sweeten the pot and encourage participants to give meaningful contributions, you may consider adding a contest feature. A cash reward or gift card can be an easy solution, but even something simple like public acknowledgements are sometimes enough to incentivize participants. You have to decide what your particular audience would appreciate the most.
You can host your idea contest in a variety of ways, but one easy (and free!) option is to use our intuitive collaboration tool: LaunchLeap. Our short explanatory video will show you what it’s all about.
- Suggestion box
Another simple way to encourage your customers to help with the front end design is to implement a suggestion box feature. This can either be done as a widget on your website or a physical box in your brick-and-mortar store. Alternatively, you can directly contact your customers by email to ask them for their feedback and thoughts for improvement.
So as you can see collaborative front-end design process isn’t that complicated and all it really takes is an effort on your part to reach out to your customer base and ask for their input. As we’ll see in the next few weeks, the payoff of doing so can be huge.