Design Thinking & Engineering

For our May TechConnex Innovation Peer Group, our special guest speaker Dylan Horvath, the President of Cortex Design, presented on how to adopt human-focused design principles in the creation of physical products.  Key takeaways from the session:  

  • Focus on user experience 
  • Expect and accept failures 
  • Good design = good business 

Companies put a lot of thought into how to design user experiences, but Dylan advocates why it’s important that we invert those terms: the most effective product designers think first about the experience they want to create, then the user who will have that experience. Only after they’ve arrived at a deep understanding of these factors do they begin to think about thedesign (e.g. physical form, features, user interface) of a given product. 

When you design innovative products or services one should always plan for, anticipate and accept failure.  Design failure happens when there’s a gap between what a product promises and what it delivers. In order to prevent failure once you are in the market, you should expect frequent failure in your minimal viable product stages. Here the expectation should be to fail frequently with minimal cost impact. Frequently failure at this stage prevents far more costly failure at later stages. An estimated 25% to 50% of customers will abandon a new product or business within the first 100 days of engagement. Therefore, your ability to create a product based on user empathy, add the complexity into the device instead of the user, accept failure, and iterate your products is critical. 

People deserve a better experience! Your products or services need to take into account the lives of your consumers and how your products or services will fit into their lifestyle. According to Joey Coleman, a 5% increase in customer retention can result in a 25% to 85% increase in profit. Products that tell great stories, deliver a better experience and stand the test of time will increase customer retention. In other words, good design = good business.  

The human-focused design process Dylan’s team uses is a role model for organizations seeking to achieve first-mover status in the market. Truly understanding how a product or service will be used, engineering it to deliver a great consumer experience right from the beginning, and only then making the type of compromises necessary to bring it to market will ultimately save money and speed up delivery while de-risking investment, these are values we deeply appreciate.  


To find out more about Dylan’s approach to design, or get in touch, visit his LinkedIn page or Cortex Design’s website, and Click Here for presentation slides.  

Please share your thought in the comment section below. 


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