Have you ever had to give a talk on a big stage and found yourself strategically selecting the outfit that best exemplifies your personality and your message?
From the back of the auditorium, you want the proportion of your outfit to communicate your overall character (think sporty, formal, edgy, etc.) oh and to flatter your figure, of course. From the first few rows of the audience, you want the colors and style of your individual pieces to declare your personality. Following your talk, when you're shaking hands with a colleague, the pattern and texture of your garments should show off your thoughtful attention to detail and quality.
Your outfit should satisfy all three of these vantage points. Skip one and you'll experience the difference between a tailored tuxedo and a rental tux. You may fool people from afar, but the truth comes out when they move in closer.
Let's have a look at how this same concept applies to critique and improve your product's design:
Put your product up on a stage and sit in the back row.
What character or mood does it give off? From this far away, does your product look tough or nimble? Is your product flashy or discrete? Most importantly, does your product embody the character you want it to?
From this distance, we take notice of a product's silhouette. This silhouette is defined by the product's proportions. When designing or critiquing your product, start with proportions. If you don't get proportions right, getting the next two levels right will be like putting lipstick on a pig.
Now that you've passed the 50-foot test, move up to the first row, about 10 feet away from your product.
What jumps out at you first? Do the product's curves and forms play nice with the overall proportion? Are the colors appealing and do they clue you in to how to interact with the product? Most importantly, does your product persuade you to pick it up?
From this distance, we take notice of styling. Styling includes form, curves, and color. Your product's styling should complement its proportion and convey its personality.
After passing the 50-foot and 10-foot tests, you're ready for the final test. Pick up your product and hold it in your hands.
How does it make you feel? Does the product seem expensive or cheap? Do the surfaces feel high quality and interesting? Most importantly, do you want to keep exploring it up close or take a step back?
From this distance, we take notice of your product's materials, textures, and details. There is an abundance of design decisions to be made and this last level shows off final touches that can either wow or bore your customer. This up-close view also reveals the quality of your product's craftsmanship.
A desirable design is enticing at all three vantage points. From 50 feet away, your product's flattering proportions should draw your customer in for a closer look. From 10 feet away, your product should captivate with its curves and color scheme. Once in her hands, your product should delight your customer with its satisfying medley of materials, textures, and details.
The goal at all three levels is to grab and hold attention. We want to entice your customers to come in for a closer look, and ultimately, to take your product for a spin.