You’ve done your homework in terms of preparation and studying other successful products! Now comes the really exciting bit! It’s time to create your own product!
We’ve been involved in the creation of some of the biggest products on the market, teamed up with some of the best designers, and there are a number of things we know from experience that will help your product succeed and stand out from the crowd!
Your product should include more great features, functionality and amazing elements than any competing products. Make it authentic, fantastic quality, and make its appeal as broad as possible.
Delight and surprise your audience!
"I love being a digital product designer because I get to wake up, send the kids to school, walk two steps down the hall to my studios and draw cute creatures and pretty flowers. How crazy is that?! Best part hands down are the lovely customers. Oh my goodness, seriously the kindest, sweetest, most wonderful people you’d ever meet! It’s unreal how positive this career move has been."
Leading designer of illustrated digital design products
Size / Scale
Size really does matter! Part of the customer’s perception of the value of the product comes from its size, put simply, the more they are getting for their money, the more the perceived value of the product is. This means if you have two similar products, at similar quality, at a similar price point, but one gives you lots more in terms of size, extras and features, the larger product will invariably sell!
Example: The World’s Greatest Vintage Collection
It doesn't get much bigger than The World’s Greatest Vintage Collection, a joint product between Vector Hut and Design Cuts - an absolutely gargantuan product containing literally thousands of painstakingly digitised vintage materials.
In addition to those, it's also got paper scans, paper textures, seamless patterns, flourishes and markings, a font bundled in, and in case that's not enough - a bonus hand-crafted gift from the creator’s Dad! All packaged with lovely presentation and a PDF guide to make the product as easy to use as possible. It's for all these reasons that it's been in our best-seller list for years!
Quality & Detail
Not only should the product include a lot for their money, but it should also be excellent quality. Potential customers, especially designers, are very discerning. They can quickly and easily tell the difference between high-quality products, which are packed with amazing detail, and those which aren’t, and they’ll go for the high-quality product every time!
What’s more, if your product is high quality, and it’s very clearly associated with your brand, this helps build that all-important ‘brand equity’ (see our brand article for more details). Which, in turn, will help you sell future products more easily!
Some Signs Of High-Quality, Detailed Content
Bitmaps: High Resolution
If your product includes bitmap elements and is likely to be used for print; make sure they are high resolution (300 DPI or larger). As a designer we’ve all been there, there’s nothing worse than trying to work with low-resolution resources! Remember, if the end design is likely to be printed, the designer will need lots of resolution.
Save your bitmap elements in a lossless format (one which doesn’t lose quality when you save it out), such as PNG or TIFF, no one likes a blurry JPG! If you have to use JPG due to the size of your product, keep the compression as minimal as possible.
Vectors: High Detail
Ensure your vectors hold up to being blown up to really large sizes, smooth shapes and lots of detail.
Fonts: Beautifully Kerned And Consistent
If it’s a font, ensure it’s consistent in its letterforms (your eye should flow along the words effortlessly, and all letters should look like they ‘belong’ together) and that it's really well kerned (all the letters should appear to be spaced consistently regardless of which letters are put next to each other). These are the two primary things we look for when sourcing high-quality fonts for our marketplace, they set the quality fonts apart from the wanna be’s.
Fonts: Include Lots Of Alternates And Ligatures
To make fonts really useful and versatile for all applications, especially branding, include lots of alternates and ligatures. A sure sign of a really good font is that it makes a great logotype (a logo with no supporting ‘logomark’ or illustration which is just text-based, as many high-end brands use), ligatures and alternates often make giving character and flair to a logotype a lot easier!
Go the extra mile with features; try and come up with something its competitors (if it has them) haven’t done before, or, a better way of doing the same things that address the users issues with the other products.
Easy To Use
Make your product very clear and easy to use, for example, if it contains Illustrator or Photoshop files make sure the layers and folders are clearly labelled and logical. Include comprehensive and clear instructions on how to use the product in a nicely presented guide accompanied by a video.
Don’t give the customers any nasty surprises, make sure everything is as advertised in terms of file formats and quality. If you tell the customer all the resources are 300PPI or higher, make sure they are, if you say everything is as supplied EPS and PNG, make sure it is.
Example: Ultimate Universe Creator
When it comes to quality and detail the Ultimate Universe Creator, a joint product from Skybox Creative and Design Cuts knocks it out of the park. It features no fewer than 279 space graphics (totalling 3.63GB of download!) which have been painstakingly isolated and prepared for use in graphical composites. It makes it quick and easy to build your own stunning space scenes in your favourite graphics software!
Make It Authentic
If you’re creating for example, a decorative chalk pack, first create the imagery and illustrations by hand in chalk on a blackboard, and work from that; if you’re creating a pack based on vintage imagery, spend the time to source that imagery from authentic vintage sources.
Then, once you’ve done that ensure your potential customers know that’s what you did in your product marketing. Authenticity is another excellent indicator of quality, if you get your brand known for consistently being authentic it will increase the sales of not only this but future products.
The Chalk Extravaganza Pack
The wonderful and talented Jo Fallon of The Cotswold Chalkboard teamed up with Design Cuts to produce The Chalk Extravaganza Pack - a fantastically authentic decorative chalk pack made up of hundreds of beautifully hand-drawn and carefully digitised elements. Beautifully presented and packed with value - our community absolutely loved it!
Tell the Story of Making the Product
You're far more likely to sell a product if you can make a connection with the potential customer. Telling the story of your product creation is a great way to do this - they'll connect with you on a designer to designer level!
Tell them what inspired you to create the product, the hours which went into building out the concept, the hard work in developing it through to final designs - go into the details, geek out with them a little! They're designers, they'll love it - and through giving them all the details, they'll see the fantastic quality and amazing value of your product!
The World’s Greatest Vintage Collection
Let's return to the amazing The World’s Greatest Vintage Collection by Vector Hut and Design Cuts - Tom put an absolutely huge amount of work into the creation of the product, and he made sure to tell the potential customer all about it in the products preview graphics. Hundreds of hours spent scanning, editing, optimising, and of course - drinking coffee, every designer can relate to that!
Give it Broad Appeal
Ensure the product has as broad (wide) an appeal as possible within your target audience. For example, if you’re creating a font targeted towards graphic designers, allow lots of variation within the styles of that font, alternates, ligatures etc to be used by lots of different types of end businesses/brands. This makes the product as useful as possible and increases sales.
A great example of broad appeal is Montreux - a beautiful font Design Cuts helped develop with the hugely talented ROHH foundry. The font, whilst having a very strong overall identity targets a huge number of brand applications; web and digital, finance and banking, healthcare, legal, food and drink, fashion… the list goes on. Because of this, the final potential audience of the product is huge, maximising the number of potential buyers.
Bonuses & Extras
Give your product a big boost to perceived value by including bonuses and extras! For example, your script font could include some complementary illustrations and textures. Your flower illustration pack could include a bonus tutorial showing you how to easily take those illustrations and make beautiful wedding invitations, you could even bundle in a wedding template invite you used in the tutorial!
The Magical Scene Creator
When it comes to bonuses and extra's Lisa Glanz doesn't miss a marketing trick - she never fails to add a little something extra to entice the potential buyer! Her wonderful, and amazingly creative Magical Scene Creator, that Design Cuts were lucky enough to have been involved in of the creation of is a perfect example.
The product makes it easy for you to create beautiful and imaginative illustrated scenes of super cute animals, complete with magical and imaginative backgrounds. But, of course, these animals would come to life even more if they were speaking! So, the pack comes with a variety of usefully shaped speech bubbles bundled in - what could be more perfect than that? Why a lovely in style font of course to use for the text - so that you don't have to track one down yourself! Which is exactly what she bundled in as the bonus product! Genius!
Organisation, Help & Guides
Once a customer has purchased your product, create a great impression by making it as easy as possible to use it.
Make It Organised
Make sure all your files are clearly labeled and saved in an easy to understand folder structure (don’t make your customers struggle to find what they need in your product!).
Include A File/Resource Guide
Include a PDF guide of the resources, showing all the items in thumbnail form, sensibly labelled (this will allow customers to search the PDF for what they are looking for) and detailing the folder you find each resource in and its file name.
Include A How To Guide/Video
If the customer might need some explanation as to how to use your product, include a clear, easy to understand PDF guide or video. Take the customer through using all its features and functionality, show it off - show them what the product is capable of.
You can use your ‘Real World Mock-ups / Brand Examples’ previews as the examples in your video (see the next article on product presentation for more details on these). Delight your audience with how useful your product is when they purchase it!
Personalised Portrait Creator
Sticking with Lisa's products for a moment, the wonderful Personalised Portrait Creator is a great example of a beautifully organised product. It has clear and easy to understand graphics showing how the product is used, and comes complete with a user guide video to help you on your way!
Gather ‘Social Proof’
Case studies, reviews and testimonials, or ‘social proof’ are invaluable when putting together your products marketing materials. Social proof is a hugely powerful tool in converting the sceptical customer (yes, but is the product any good?) into a confident potential buyer (wow, it’s been used by lots of other designers who love it, it must be good!).
So, once you’ve completed your product, don’t just cross your fingers and launch it. Now’s a great time to release your new product to a small select group of friends or designers (a ‘test group’), let them try it out, tell you what they think of it honestly. The chances are they’ll come back with some really great comments and things that you may not have thought of. After all, it’s natural for it to be very difficult to be objective about your new pride and joy!
These invaluable insights will help you make final tweaks to your product, and ensure the customer can’t think of anything which would make it any better (wow, this product is perfect!).
It’s also worth asking if some of the group will trial using the product in their commercial design work. Then, in exchange for giving them the product for free, ask them to give you case studies on how the product helped them, and reviews and testimonials in relation to how helpful it was and the quality of the product.
If you want to really go the extra mile with social proof, and, if anyone in your test group is willing and capable of doing so, you could get them to make a testimonial video showing them using the product and talking through how easy and amazing it is to use.
You should make sure the social proof is prominent on all your ‘brand touchpoints’ (anywhere someone might interact with your brand and products). It will give potential customers huge confidence in your products and brand and make them a lot more likely to buy off you.
Example: Grid Builder
Grid builder, the highly innovative product by Ian Barnard and Stephan Kunz uses testimonials within its previews really well to help sell the product. The potential customer doesn't have to wonder if it's a great product - they can see that it is! It's been shown in studies that people really do believe social proof, and that it helps to sell!
Test your product, test it some more, then, when you’re finished, make a coffee, and do some more testing! If your selling seamless patterns, make sure they are all perfectly seamless. If you’re selling a font, make sure the kerning is perfect. If you’re selling watercolour illustrations and you’ve scanned them, cut them out and isolated them in PNG, make sure they are perfectly isolated!
Nothing creates a worse impression than finding a problem with a product once they’ve bought it. That bad impression damages sales of the product through bad reviews online and word of mouth. But, even worse than that, it damages the perception of your brand and reduces your all important brand equity. This hurts the sales of all your future products, so should be avoided at all costs.
How To Fast Track Your Product Design Skills
Showing how to build a support network of friends and designers who will help support you - give you valuable advice, and create the best products as quickly as possible!
Create Your Product Action List
Ensure your product:
- Has size/scale - part of the customer’s perception of the value of the product comes from its size.
- Is very high in quality and detail.
- Is authentic.
- Has a back story to help make a connection with the potential customer.
- Has broad appeal.
- Comes bundled with bonuses and extras.
- Is well organised and comes with a how-to guide or video.
- Includes 'social proof' (case studies, reviews and testimonials).
- Has been thoroughly tested.
About The Author
Matt Slightam is Co-founder and creative director at Design Cuts. He's creatively directed some of the biggest digital design products on the market - working with many leading designers such as Shoutbam, Trailhead, Latino Type, Pretty Little Lines, ROHH, Julia Dreams and many more.
Matt puts out regular useful content to help designers via Instagram, and can be found at @mattslightam