The Secret to Successful Product Design? Simplicity.

The more elegant and straightforward your product design, the easier it will be for you to attract customers. Here are three ways to streamline the way your product looks.

learn more about Debra Kaye

By Debra Kaye

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The more immediately someone understands a product or message, the greater chance you have of selling him or her on it. Everyone recognizes Apple's white ear buds without explanation. Visual perception occupies by far the largest area of the human brain -- 80 percent -- followed by hearing at 10 percent, making sight the most influential of the senses.

Add to this the fact that people spend as little as three seconds at the retail shelf, meaning they do not even see text, much less read or understand it. The time spent looking at a digital ad is even shorter. So why not simplify your product, packaging and messaging for more memorable communication?

Thinking of your business in terms of pictures from the outset will help you find points-of-difference that will carry through your brand. We should be on a mission to convert as many words as possible to icons and images on our products, packaging and marketing efforts.

Here are three simple and effective ways to get started:

1. Make your product intuitive.
When packaging, product design or even messaging is cluttered, we don't actually register what's being conveyed. Our brain gets fatigued and we may give up and move on. Clean, simple silhouettes with fewer bells and whistles reduce the message to an idea that is both immediate and clear: "I am not difficult to use. I am intuitive."

The tablet is a good example of this approach, which is also easily recognizable in non-tech consumer products. For example, OXO, a New York-based gadget producer, has a wooden hand-held lemon reamer with a simple design that is immediately recognizable in terms of its functionality.

2. Use icons in place of words.
The written word is valuable, but pictures need to play a larger role in a world where consumers are bombarded with information. Icons that embody the prime characteristics of your brand or product are memorable and instantly identifiable on the shelf or online. We are both culturally and biologically programmed to gravitate toward those things that we recognize. They give us a feeling of comfort and security.

I like to cite the example of Milton Glaser's "I Love N.Y." logo. In the 1970s Glaser harkened back to our deepest emotion -- love -- using the already familiar heart symbol to create the "I Love N.Y." logo. It was such a huge hit because its meaning was instantaneous, making it a classic icon for New York tourism ever since.

3. Develop packaging that's visually compelling.
Products and packaging have to echo each other. After you've envisioned your product's characteristics, those consumer touch points should fit the look of its packaging as well. In its broadest sense, packaging is the delivery of the entire experience.

Take, for example, the classic 1915 Coca-Cola contour bottle that we all recognize. This packaging was actually a radical break from convention at a time when beverage bottles were straight and featureless. The design was inspired by the cocoa pod, but over time, it became known as the Mae West bottle because of its feminine and curvy shape, which helped reinforce Coke's efforts at the time to be associated with health, discreet sexiness and vigor.

Take a step back and consider how you can make your brand and products more visual and intuitive. What simplifications and visual cues would make the product easier to use and more immediately understandable? The more elegant and straightforward your design, the easier it will be for you to win customers.

Debra Kaye

Brand Strategist and Partner at Lucule

Debra Kaye is a brand and culture strategist and partner at Lucule, a New York-based innovation consulting firm. She is author of the book, Red Thread Thinking (McGraw-Hill, 2013).

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Business News

I Live on a Cruise Ship for Half of the Year. Look Inside My 336-Square-Foot Cabin with Wraparound Balcony.

I live on a cruise ship with my husband, who works on it, for six months out of the year. Life at "home" can be tight. Here's what it's really like living on a cruise ship.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.

Business Solutions

Master Coding for Less Than $2 a Course with This Jam-Packed Bundle

Make coding understandable with this beginner-friendly coding bundle, now just $19.99.

Business News

The 'Airbnbust' Proves the Wild West Days of Online Vacation Rentals Are Over

Airbnb recently reported that 2022 was its first profitable year ever. But the deluge of new listings foreshadowed an inevitable correction.

Starting a Business

Ask Marc | Free Business Advice Session with the Co-Founder of Netflix

Get free business advice during our next Ask Marc, live Q&A, on 3/28/23 at 3 p.m. EDT. You don't want to miss it—send in your questions now.