2021's Top 10 Innovation and Product Design Posts

In 2021 you devoured blogs about looking at old problems in new ways, unlocking your professional potential, and creating products that change the world for the better.

Check out our most-read posts of the year below.

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1. A new, comprehensive medical device design process diagram

It isn’t uncommon for medical device companies who partner with us for strategy, design, or engineering services to be overwhelmed by the FDA’s process. Or, more specifically, with how the process is communicated in the FDA’s 5-stage waterfall diagram.

We decided to create a different, more comprehensive flowchart of the medical device development process and share it with you.

Read the postA new, comprehensive medical device design process diagram by Lori Lelivelt

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2. The role of human factors design

Human factors design and ergonomics basically mean the same thing—the study of the interactions between human beings and the tools, tasks, and environments of work and everyday living.

Here's primer on what, how and when the discipline of human factors is used in the design and development of products.

Read the post: The role of human factors design by Craig Conner

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3. Developing an introvert's superpower

Do you know someone who can absorb a vast amount of complex information about a problem and combine it into a cohesive, elegant solution? An introvert is uniquely suited to develop this superpower; solving problems with multiple interrelated constraints.

Research shows an introvert's brain pathways favor the thinking mode where several solutions to individual problems are played out in their mind simultaneously. 

If you’re an introvert, we propose following this process to harness your superpower and develop your potential for idea generation.

Read the post: Developing an introvert's superpower by David Gennrich

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4. The expanding definition of design

There’s a growing sense of urgency and renewed purpose in the design community.

Climate change, social injustice, shifting patterns of work and wealth—the world is shifting, and designers are expanding their focus areas to tackle these complex and interconnected issues.

This year’s International Design Conference put that momentum in context. From case studies to calls for action, the slate of speakers all posed possible answers to the question: What new frontiers would benefit most from good design?

Thought leaders at IDC identified many emerging areas. Four stood out the most

Read the postThe expanding definition of design by Paul Barnes

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5. Women in design: 8 ways your origin story can make you a better designer

Women make up just 20% of professional industrial designers in the United States, according to an industry survey by Core77.

When women are still the minority by a long shot, it can be difficult to openly admit to failures and disappointments. Instead, we usually hear about the success at the end of the story, rather than the journey and setbacks that got us there. That’s why the 2021 Women in Design Deep Dive was so reassuring.

Nearly every speaker shared how they made it to where they are today—their wins and, refreshingly, their stumbles and lessons learned along the way. Here's what we learned.

Read the postWomen in design: 8 ways your origin story can make you a better designer by McKayla Barber

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6. CES 2021: All virtual

We attended CES 2021, like all others, remotely. If there's one thing an all-digital CES showed in 2021 it's that this is one trade show that can't be replicated virtually. We missed the dynamic hum of the trade show floor. 

But many of the panel discussions were a lot more interesting, and you'll see that reflected in our event coverage—a PDF report summarizing what we learned about the future of healthcare, sustainability, smart home tech, 5G, and transportation. 

Download the report: CES 2021 Report by Joan Neeno

5 ways care models need to change
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7. Five ways care models need to change

The pandemic sped up trends already on the ascent. We can make appointments whenever we feel like it because there are no “office hours” during which we have to call. We can take appointments from a location of our choosing without the inconvenience of traffic.

What does this sea change mean for pharmaceutical companies who do the yeoman’s work of supporting access, adherence, and affordability for specialty drugs?

A thoughtfully designed care model can support better outcomes in ways that better fit into people’s lives. But care models will need to change, first. Here's how. 

Read the post: Five ways care models need to change by Marlisa Kopenski

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8. How to design for positive, humanity-scale impact

Delve's face shield product—Badger Shield—was assembled by more than 400 manufacturers spanning 22 countries during the first months of the pandemic. It took off because it solved a real problem.

Here are our takeaways to help you and other designers achieve positive, humanity-scale impact with your next social design project. 

Read the post: How to design for positive, humanity-scale impact by Eric Mackey and Jesse Darley

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9. Five Qs that stop design thinking from being innovation theater

Too many times design thinking projects fall victim to the trappings of innovation theater.

The innovation and design thinking project becomes more about checking all the boxes than making transformative change.

Before you make the leap to a design thinking process, here are a few questions to think about to maximize your team’s likelihood of success.

Read the postFive Qs that stop design thinking from being innovation theater by Amy Lee

The future of medtech wearables

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