Imagine you have been given a vast amount of money to spend on car, a house or whatever else you wanted. Do you just go out and buy the first car or house you see or do you have some features that you would prefer to see in whatever you intend to buy? Your ideal house may stand on the banks of a river, or maybe right on the coast with the best surf… You may want it surrounded by woods or alternatively have amazing views…. But then again if you worked in the middle of a large city and your priorities were centred on getting to work very early then none of these become important. Before you start on your research you must have some 'initial specification in mind' - a ball-park area for researching. A good start to get to this stage would be a 'brainstorm' session - produce a spidergram.. or whatever you like to call it. Try and finish up with a bullet-pointed list of general features you want your product to include. These points are guidelines for the areas you need to research. If one of the features of your product is safety then you will need to research how the law relates to your kind of product.
How should you present an initial specification ?
Every page of a coursework project should look as good as you can possibly make it.. If you or your teacher would be happy for any single sheet to be taken from a project and framed then you are pretty close to getting things right ! Obviously some people can draw better than others, some have a gift for making things look slick and well-designed and others are good at using computers or using colour to emphasise work. Whatever your talent use it to make your work look good.
Who needs a specification ?
The consumer needs a specification, the manufacturer needs one, the retailer has some idea of what is needed to sell an item, the wholesaler needs products to be transportable and easily stored and the producing company needs a product that continues to promote their long-term image.…. A lot of people need slightly different specifications. Try to produce a series of linked specifications that identify all of these different needs.
The designer has checked out a variety of research areas. Areas such as who the product might be used by, how long it might need to last and what materials it could be made from. These features will eventually determine whether the product sells well, if it is easy to make and even if it sells over a long period of time. Should the product be made to last forever ? If you owned a company making light bulbs what would be the specification for how long you wanted the bulb to last before burning out ? Companies need to decide how much 'built-in redundancy' a product should have. How long do you imagine a modern car is designed to last for ? And what of the latest fashions…. Surely textiles and furnishings are designed to be out-of-date after a certain time - unfashionable ! So is one simple specification enough ?? You might agree there should be at least two ; one from the point of view of the manufacturer - a "technical specification" - then a "marketing" version - a consumer's viewpoint - together these are the "Product Design Specification".