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How Crowd Engineering is Impacting Product Design

BY GINA SPARROW | 5 min read

Product design has become a critical factor in driving the ability to create innovative and user-friendly products that meet the needs and desires of customers. In fact, it is essential for companies looking to stand out and succeed in crowded industries to understand the importance of product design AND the role of crowd engineering and innovation. Crowd innovation has begun to impact the way companies are approaching R&D with this now 'not-so-new' way of achieving breakthrough results. 

Why Product Design is Important

Product design plays a crucial role in creating successful products that meet the needs and desires of customers. A well-designed product not only meets functional needs but also appeals to customers' emotional and aesthetic sensibilities. Effective product design also plays a critical role in product marketing, as a visually appealing product can generate interest and stand out in a crowded marketplace. A well-designed product can be a key differentiator in industries where products are commoditized and can command a premium price in markets where design plays a significant role in the buying decision.

"Chill Vibes Only"

The past half-decade of intense world affairs has evoked significant stress and tension in the consumer markets, and customers are responding to products that not only meet their functional needs but also provide emotional comfort and support. As such, companies that factor in emotional responses to product design when developing new products are gaining ground. This involves creating products that not only function well but also evoke positive emotional responses such as joy, comfort, and security. For example, products that promote relaxation or connection with loved ones may be particularly appealing in the current climate. By understanding and responding to customers' emotional needs, companies can create products that resonate with customers and drive sales in these challenging times.

How Crowd Engineering Drives Innovative Product Design

Crowd engineering refers to the practice of tapping into the collective intelligence and creativity of a group of people to solve complex problems or develop new products. Online platforms have facilitated the growth of crowd engineering, enabling designers to tap into the skills and expertise of people from all over the world. 

Crowd engineering allows designers to tap into a diverse range of perspectives and ideas, creating more inclusive and accessible products. It also has the potential to democratize the product design process, opening up opportunities for individuals and small companies to compete with larger players in the industry. Examples of companies successfully using crowd engineering for product design include LEGO and Local Motors.


The toy company LEGO has a long history of involving its customers in the design process through its LEGO Ideas platform. The platform allows LEGO fans to submit their own designs for new LEGO sets, and the community votes on which ones they would like to see produced. Once a set is approved, the designer receives a percentage of the sales revenue. This approach has resulted in the creation of some of LEGO's most popular sets, such as the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 and the NASA Apollo Saturn V.

LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto-1 21108, Building Sets - Amazon Canada
The design was selected from Lego CUUSOO, a crowdsourcing platform that allows consumers to submit ideas for products. Ideas that receive 10,000 votes are then reviewed by the company and the consumer who came up with the idea gets 1% of net sales of the product.  - USA Today

Local Motors

Local Motors is a company that specializes in the design and manufacture of 3D-printed vehicles. The company has developed a unique approach to product design by tapping into the expertise of a global community of designers and engineers. Local Motors hosts a series of design challenges on its website, inviting designers to submit their ideas for new vehicle concepts. The community votes on the submissions, and the winning design is produced as a limited-edition vehicle. Local Motors has successfully used this approach to create several innovative vehicles, including the Strati, the world's first 3D-printed car.

We Can't Leave Out AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly important in product design. AI can automate aspects of the design process, optimize products for individual customers, and enhance functionality and usability. It can also provide insights by analyzing data sets and customer feedback. However, using AI in product design presents potential challenges. For instance, AI can perpetuate existing biases and stereotypes, and it may limit creativity and innovation. 

Designers need to find a balance between using AI to improve efficiency and productivity while preserving the creative aspects of product design. As AI technology continues to evolve, it is expected to play a greater role - it is important to be mindful of the challenges and limitations associated with using AI. 

"AI tools are a great starting point for product development and innovation." - Innovation in the Age of AI by Justin Parnell of Brightidea

Why Some Companies Fail at Product Design

While product design is essential for creating successful products, some companies fail to meet customer needs and desires with their product designs. Common reasons why companies fail at product design include a lack of customer focus, poor market research, insufficient testing, ineffective communication between stakeholders, and a lack of innovation. To succeed at product design, companies must prioritize customer needs, conduct thorough market research, test their products extensively, communicate effectively with stakeholders, and continually innovate.

Investing in the Critical Factor

Companies that invest in innovative and user-friendly product design can create products that meet the needs and desires of customers, stand out from the competition, and command a premium price. By tapping into the collective intelligence and creativity of crowds through crowd engineering, companies can create more inclusive and accessible products that better meet customer needs. By avoiding common pitfalls such as insufficient testing or ineffective communication, companies can ensure that their product designs meet the highest standards of quality and usability. Overall, product design is a powerful tool for companies looking to succeed in today's competitive marketplace.

Where to Start 

Here are a few tips on how to get started with crowd engineering for product design:

  1. Define the problem: Start by clearly defining the problem you are trying to solve or the product you want to create. This will help you identify the skills and expertise you need from the crowd.
  2. Choose the right platform: There are many online collaboration platforms available, so it's essential to choose the right one for your needs. Consider factors such as their ability to attract the crowd, the scope of their community, the type of projects they work on, and the level of support provided by the platform.
  3. Design your Challenge and Engage the Crowd: Once you have identified the platform and community, it's important to engage them in the design process. Be clear about what you are looking for and provide clear guidelines and instructions for contributing to the project.
  4. Provide feedback: Feedback is a crucial aspect of crowd engineering. Provide feedback to contributors regularly and use it to refine the design process. This will help ensure that the final product meets your needs and the needs of your customers.
  5. Build relationships: Building relationships with contributors is essential to the success of crowd engineering. By establishing a rapport with contributors you can create a sense of ownership and investment in the final product. This can lead to greater enthusiasm and engagement.

Excited, But Unsure How To Begin?? Start by sharing your audacious goal with the HeroX Possibilities team. No obligation. Education first.


Your Crowd. Your Solution.

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