How Product Pre-Planning Can Save You Lots of Design Time

When I first started designing digital scrapbook products back in 2010, I had no idea what I was doing. I’d be full of inspiration one week, only to be scrambling to come up with ideas the following week. Sound familiar?

How Product Pre-Planning Can Save You Lots of Design Time | shannonmcnab.com

I wasted so much design time in my first few years as a digital designer and the main reason stemmed from not doing any pre-planning – I just jumped straight into design mode. If I had only taken a few hours each week (or month) to build a solid plan for future products, I would have saved myself HOURS of time.

Here are three time saving benefits to developing a product pre-planning system:

1. You Have Many Ideas to Choose From

Creating new designs is easier when you already have several good ideas to choose from instead of trying to come up with something on the fly. When I realized this, I decided to devote an entire day to building a list of possible theme ideas for future products.

Now you definitely don't have to take a full day to build an ideas list, but even 1-2 hours of focused brainstorming can easily give you at least a dozen good ideas for products down the line.

This is one step in the product planning process that is often ignored since we have so little design time to begin with, but to me it should always be the FIRST step in building a solid pre-planning system.

2. Gives You a Roadmap to Follow

Many designers (myself included) will often think of an idea and just start designing. This spontaneous method of creation can be a healthy part of the design process when you're wanting to experiment or stretch your design skills.

However, when it comes to developing a fully realized product (especially if it's a multi-product collection), I think going in with a bit of a plan is a much better place to start. By spending just an hour or so brainstorming ideas, you'll be giving yourself a plan of attack and visual cues that will help you during the design process.

And by creating your own mini product plan, it means that if you get stuck at any time while you're designing, you can just revisit your plan and know what step needs to come next. Without a plan, you'd probably end up wasting more time looking for inspiration to give you new ideas.

3. Makes You Feel Productive

It's such a great feeling to look back on your day or week and feel like you got a lot accomplished. That's because everyone likes to feel productive! And I don't know about you, but feeling productive is one of the main things that keeps me motivated to work on "the next thing" on my to-do list.

That's why I love creating a product list anytime I make a new collection (you could also do a list of tasks needed to complete a single product) because I can immediately see how far along in the design process I am. And nothing beats the feeling of getting to physically check something off a list – it can really empower you to keep going!

So how do you create an easy to implement product planning system??

Well, I'd like to share with you the three part system I developed and personally used for the past two years! In my new FREE Product Planning Guide, I lead you through each part step-by-step to help you implement your own product planning strategy and gain back some valuable design time.

Do you find yourself wanting more time to design? Download my FREE 12-page Product Planning Guide so you can start streamlining your design process now. GET YOUR FREE GUIDE | shannonmcnab.com

Here's just a taste of what you'll learn:

  • Why building a design idea library is so important for long term success
  • How to discern good product ideas from bad ones
  • Creative and unusual places to hunt for inspiration
  • Tips for keeping your design files more organized
  • How to build a product inventory spreadsheet from scratch

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