- Design Principles
- Vision in Product
ViP is a design process developed by Paul Hekkert and Matthijs van Dijk. It’s a framework oriented to explore opportunities for a product in the future.
You won’t become an oracle or a card reader (that’d be cool, though!). However, with this exercise, you will gain enough insight into a product’s origin to design its future.
To say a bit about ViP:
- It has a context-driven approach. This enables external factors to impact design decisions.
- It centers on human interaction. Focus on the emotion to understand how a user feels with the product.
- It asks the question: why does this exist? And it defines it. Also, it draws a map to figure how its current iteration came to be.
Having designers who have agency over the process enables them to create an authentic analysis and make immense contributions.
Let’s take a look at how this process is done and what we can learn from it.
To begin, a designer has to set a time limit and a domain for its contribution. The domain is a map that guides the designer through the process. It could be a broad definition of the product, with zero focus on function or user.
Advice from Yoda
ViP is NOT a series of fixed steps. It’s not to copy nor make minimal changes to the subject product. You should use it to rethink the way the product it’s used.
Misdirected efforts and wasted time you will find, if you walk through this path, young Padawan. – Said by Yoda (maybe)
Now back to our regular schedule.
A designer’s values prove its worth
As we said a while ago, designers require agency (that is, being free and responsible) from external pressures and biases. These attributes suggest that designers need to believe in the brand and its purpose. Not trusting what the target organization deters the designer from moving on.
Having this prerequisite checked allows designers to be curious and achieve authenticity in their work.
The brief of the exercise should be as open as possible and have little to no involvement from the client or user.
The process has two main instances: retrospective or Deconstruction, and prospective or Design.
This initial stage serves to make an analysis and explore the past and present iterations of the product to discover:
- Its material, color, size, etc. (Physical qualities)
- How users have historically felt with the product.
When these two aspects have been inspected, it’s time for the designer to determine the context the product is going to be developed.
It’s about the definition
All of the anthropologic aspects (social, cultural, and psychological) have to be classified by type: principles, states, developments, and trends. The first two are more stable than the latter two, which are more fluctuating.
The designer can relate factors according to similar or opposite topics, clustering them up and establishing them in specific positions.
When everything’s said and done, it’s time to move to the second stage: Designing.
This stage begins with a few questions: how will the previous factors change? Which ones will stay the same? These factors can’t be attributed, or anything biased that might alter the result of the exercise. These definitions allow us to define the conditions of future products.
Designers can find future factors in their minds or from others. Try talking to a leader on the field, read books, blogs, or research papers.
There’s a chance that some factors will relate to an idea that opposes other ones. Grouping and linking factors create a product story that makes sense.
To complete the process, designers should write a statement that sums up the discoveries and thoughts. They’re needed to shape the abstract goal for the next steps.
It’s not meant to be completely accurate. Its only purpose is to express the focus and insights for the rest of the exercise. See it as playing Pictionary. You have a radiant clue before you win.
It’s a statement
Once we’ve built our statement, it’s time to think about how users will interact with the product. The Deconstruction stage helped us analyze this relationship. Now we’ll turn it up a notch and ideate qualities that would fit in this defined context.
Describing an interaction is actually really fun! You need to think about the following:
- Whatever you need to envision or communicate the interaction
Bring clarity to the process by explaining the elements you have identified using metaphors and images. (Editor’s note: this whole exercise looks like what Transformers do to become a new vehicle, to be honest)
Land on sight!
Finally, we arrive at the production process. Congratulations! You have reached known shores. You can start designing your final product following your statement and domain.
Don’t forget about the future context too! It will define the requirements that the future product must fulfill (E.N.: that is, protecting Shia LaBeouf, or someone else).
Describing the way that the product will achieve its goal is the outcome of your exercise.
Junior designer, congratulations! You have given your first steps into a fascinating and sometimes complicated world. We recommend that you read Paul Hikkert — Mathijs Van Dijk’s book if you want to have a deep dive into this process.
To you, seasoned veteran of many design battles: did this article help you refresh concepts? Or perhaps you haven’t read about ViP yet?
Using a Vision in Product process is a fantastic tool to design innovative products and services. Instead of thinking about the present, go a step further, and plan how the future will be.