When we are talking about design management we think immediately in fashion. Of course, the world of fashion is specially dominated by design, but design is applied to any product (even service) that we buy every day.
Design provides identification, then differentiation, but it includes more important aspects than visual appearance, for instance, functionality, although fashion shows us that design is much more than functionality, as couture is much more than sewing.
Design provides value though both functionality and differentiation, but it can provide much more value if it considers aspects as manufacturing of the product.
In the industrial field, design can be supported by computers. The following terms are well-known: CAD (Computer Aided Design), CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing), and CAE (Computer Aided Engineering). Although the word design is only included in the first activity, in fact, design management would cover the three stages.
Through these stages we can find how design provides value. CAD can provides mainly differentiation and value for the client, CAM can provides mainly an efficient production getting value for the manufacturer, and CAE can provides mainly functionality getting value for both client and manufacturer. When the activities are fully linked the value that those activities provide is larger.
There is one additional aspect that has not been included in the previous process: marketing. Marketing is probably the most important aspect of the design management. The reason is that through marketing we can decide when we need to start the design of a new product and we can analyze the best requirements for that new product design.
These requirements include aspects related to usability of the product. A mainly objective of a good design must be to provide a simple use for the user. A good design adapts the product to the user, and do not force the user to adapt himself to the product. Imagine a dress of couture that does not fit well the body of a catwalk model, the same effect has a product or service that does not fit well how a person thinks. For instance, I remember that some years ago, some cash machines gave me the money before the card, but it is not a good design. A better one is to return the card before to expend money because if a person goes to a cash machine for money, they do not forget money, but if he has got money yet he can forget easily the card. Fortunately, current cash machines are more user friendly than those from the first generation.
Nowadays, there are a lot of new product and services in the market every day, but many of them are not designed following this principle. Designs should be done in order to make our life easier instead of making the life of the designer easier but it is not the commonest practice. As value for client will be always better paid, then this is always a good business practice.
As complexity can be measure we should select the less complex design always, when other variables are equal. If we want to analyze and measure complexity, we should analyze not only complexity at the design phase or production one. We should include the complexity for the user as complexity can be decreasing the value for him, and the price that we can put for the product.
Industrial design should be driven always by simplicity, this does not imply that we must forget the importance of creativity because creativity provides differentiation, and differentiation is a kind of value, but creativity and simplicity are not opposite.