Summary of a Product Analysis

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Rusty Presendorfer
January 12, 2007
Summary of a Product analysis

Looking carefully at existing products that are similar to the one you are going to design is a very important part of the design process. To learn successfully from existing products you have to look at them with a 'critical eye'. Looking critically at products and asking questions about them is known as product analysis.

Analysing graphic products
When you analyse a product, you should always use the 5WM approach. This will act as a good starting point. For example, a point of sale display is a graphic product, so if you were analysing the point of sale display in the photo, you might ask the following questions.

Who is the product aimed at?
To answer this question, you have to think of the type of product being promoted. For example, soap powder is usually aimed at adults. Look to see if there are any visual clues. A visual clue is anything that helps you to understand what the designer's intentions were. It may be a picture, a style of writing or a particular choice of colours.

What is the purpose of the point of sale display?
The display has to hold leaflets, but how many? Does the number of leaflets it needs to hold affect its size? The leaflets are usually made to a standard size that could be A4, A5 or even A6. This is because paper is more easily available in these sizes. Holding leaflets is probably the primary function (or main purpose) of the point of sale display. It will also have secondary functions of attracting attention to the product being advertised on the leaflets, and helping to sell it.

What material has been used and why?
Cardboard is usually used for point of sale displays. There are several reasons for this: •Cardboard is cheaper than acrylic. This is important because usually point of sale displays only have to last for as long as the product promotion. •It is easy to print on to. This helps to keep costs down. •It can be folded flat for delivery. This is important for transportation and storage.

Graphic products are often ephemeral, or short-lived
Items like tickets and posters are designed to last for a very short period of time and then they are thrown away. One of the most important questions for you to ask is 'How does the fact that many graphic products are ephemeral (short-lived) affect their design and manufacture?'

Comparative analysis
Sometimes it is useful to compare graphic products to find out why the same product has been designed differently. A good example of this is sweets. There are hundreds of different types of sweets that are all more or less the same and have the same function - being eaten!

Comparing products helps you to answer the question ‘Why?’

Why are different colours used? Red is commonly used because it really stands out. Think of other colours and what they do. •Why do products aimed at children look different to products designed for teenagers, or adults? This will help you to understand about different markets. A market is the type of people who use a certain product. •Why do products have different types of packaging and use different materials? This will help you to understand about production and packaging techniques, and why some products have to be completely sealed.

1.Give two reasons why designers carry out product analysis as part of the design process. 2.Graphic products are nearly always short-lived or throw-away (such as packaging). Describe two ethical issues related to the growing use of graphic products to sell and promote other products.

Key points
Product analysis (sometimes called disassembly) is an important form of primary research. •A useful framework for analysing products is the 5WH approach: - Who? - What? - Where? - When? - Why? - (and How?) •Because graphic products are designed to be ephemeral (short-lived) they need to be low cost.

Look carefully at the two examples of...
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