Manufacturing News

No excuse for poor design

 There no excuse for a poorly designed product – especially if it is supposed to be a “New & Improved” version of something that has been done before. This is also true of “making it less expensive” or even when developing something new.

In all these cases we are working from a base of past experience and so should only be doing things better.

Our world is being filled with products. Our product managers continually update and change a product – even if it is not “broken” – and our sales people always want some new angle to sell what is essentially the same.  We must produce and do it quickly before our competition does or we may lose market share. Staying with a successful product and not changing it year on year (or even more frequently) is seen as failure.  Many products land up superfluous or poorly designed.

According to Gary Bortz, Principal Designer at Bortz Product Design, this does not have to be the way.

“We have the technology, the knowledge and the experience. We have passed the industrial and electronic revolution and are firmly in the technology age. Our designers have had decades to hone their skills, they have manufacturing to streamline their processes and marketing to understand and guide their markets. We have matured and our products should reflect this.”

About 90 years ago industrial design was born. This profession is the meeting point of “art and engineering”. It humanises products and makes them ready for mass production. For companies and marketing departments it helps differentiate products – giving them the edge. For users it helps make the connection between themselves and the product.

Imagine an MP3 player that consists of a circuit board in a plastic bag or an espresso machine made of pipes, heating elements and pumps with no housing. Imagine a power saw as a high powered motor spinning a deadly blade in a heavy and difficult to hold housing. vehicles with poorly laid out controls and uncomfortable seating. How would you use these, why would you buy them, where would you hide them?  Industrial design packages the essence of the product, making it desirable and accessible to the masses.

A well-designed object can even take on a personality or become an extension of the user. Be it a work tool, kitchen utensil, sporting equipment or even hygiene product, it can instil an emotional response to the user.  With good design this will be a positive emotion. Look at any technophile – how lovingly they cradle their iPhone or caress the remote of their favourite system. 

And guess what, we are all consumers and users. Whether it is for a personal purchase or one for our company, we still are led by our emotions. Our logic and rationale for making a purchase may be based on features, function and price, but when it comes down to these all being equal, good design will always win out.

This element of design portrays more than we can rationally measure. It gives the impression of added quality and attention to detail that gives us the confidence to choose one product over another.  It says – “choose me, I’m better”. It says – “the company that made me, cares”.

Now almost a century on, industrial designers are doing this daily. Collaborating with engineers, manufacturers, marketing and management and using sophisticated tools and the wealth of knowledge gained over decades to assist at all levels of product development.

The next time your company is developing a new product make sure you have an industrial designer on your team. For more information about industrial design, the services on offer or examples of our work, visit


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