5 Tips for Finding Design Firms for Your Product Development

  •    Barney runs a digital marketing consultancy and writes about technology, startups, music, movies and business, as well as his hometown in the UK.

You may have had a fantastic idea for a new product and are itching to get started, but lack the skills and experience necessary to make your vision come alive. Don't fret! There is a solution: you can outsource the product development to a design firm. Of course, there are risks to handing over your product to an outsourcing company, so here are five tips to aid the process.

1. Communication

Communication is important at every stage of your project, so when you are choosing the design firm, think about which one is the most responsive and seems to fit well with your own company culture. Transferring your ideas successfully to the outsourcing company will be crucial. Try to get across your ideas to the design firm as well as you can — this could be through drawings and descriptions. Work with them and answer their questions, so they come to a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve. Letting them see your current products and understand the company history will help them create something that is a consistent evolution of your current products.

2. Recommendations

When you are looking for a new service, it is always wise to get recommendations, and outsourcing is no different. Use your network to find likely partners to work with and try to speak to their current or past clients. A local business association could be a good place to meet designers directly or other small businesses that can offer recommendations. Alternatively, try Meetup.com where you can go online to find nearby events for designers, which will build your network. Try the Weebly Community for advice and suggestions. Before assigning the whole project, you could use a smaller trial project to assess a company before making a final decision.

3. Managing Risk

It is possible to use a large design firm that can handle the full product development cycle. However, this could be a costly, so individual freelancers might be a good option. There are a number of websites like Freelancer.com where you can post a project and then attract quotes from designers. This option also means that you can hire experts with deep knowledge in particular fields to handle different aspects of your project. It is sometimes difficult for a non-expert to judge the quality of the work, so also consider hiring an independent designer or engineer to review the project. This will offer a second opinion and ultimately save money.

4. Reporting

It is critical to understand the progress of your product. Always have a plan in place with outcomes or measurable milestones. Keep in regular touch with designers and make sure they keep to an agreed reporting schedule. If you provide regular feedback, this can ensure the project stays on track, and any issues are resolved quickly and constructively.

5. Learning

Although you are getting another company to design and make your new product, there is an opportunity to learn during the process. You might want to take things in-house as your business develops, so stay as close as possible to the process to help your own knowledge grow. There could be an opportunity to spend time at the design firm, which will enhance your understanding.

Outsourced product development is a fantastic way to tap into resources that you don't have, but make sure you stay closely involved in the process and take the opportunity to learn for future projects.