Identifying design opportunities

Identifying design opportunities in sports clothing

Research before and after the design brief can identify any limitations to ideas and help with initial designs. Analysis of research and user feedback can lead to changes being made to the brief, such as a change in timescale or budget. The results of feedback, testing and product analysis should give the designer a good starting point to adapt, test, evaluate and improve their product.

Not all design is aimed at selling the maximum number of products. There are many problems that need solving for a very small target market, for example:

  • designing fastenings for small children to use
  • creating products for the partially sighted, which might include bright colours or large buttons
  • redesigning products using the ergonomic data of a wheelchair user
A young child sat on the floor fastening their red Velcro trainers.

Hook and loop (sometimes called Velcro) fastening for children

Regularly feeding back to the client ensures the designer continues to fulfil the aims of the design brief.


During the research stage, evaluating existing products against performance criteria will aid in the writing of a refined brief and specification. Below is an example of an evaluation that compares two mobile phones.

Performance criteriaMobile phone AMobile phone B
CostRRP £350.00RRP £99.00
SizeLength = 130 mm, Width = 73 mm, Thickness = 7 mm Length = 90 mm, Width = 65 mm, Thickness = 11 mm
Weight77 g86 g

From this comparison, it is possible to draw a number of conclusions.

  • Cost - Mobile phone A is more expensive than mobile phone B.
  • Size - Mobile phone A is longer and wider than mobile phone B. Mobile phone A also has a bigger screen, which means more information can fit on the screen. However, mobile phone B is 4mm thicker than mobile phone A.
  • Weight - Considering that the overall size of mobile phone A is bigger, it is 9 g lighter than mobile phone B.

The table below compares an aluminium drinks can and a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) drinks bottle on a variety of performance criteria:

A silver aluminium can and plastic bottle of water with a blue cap on a white background.
Performance criteriaAluminium drinks canPET drinks bottle
Cost of manufacture£0.03£0.09
FunctionHold liquid without leaking. Single-use container. Hold liquid without leaking. Contents visible through bottle. Can be resealed and reused.
Volume300 ml500 ml

What conclusions about cost, function and volume can be drawn from this comparison?

From this comparison, it is possible to draw a number of conclusions.

  • Cost - The aluminium drinks can is cheaper to manufacture compared with the PET drinks bottle. The PET drinks bottle is three times more expensive to manufacture.
  • Function - Both containers hold liquid without leaking; however, the contents of the PET drinks bottle can be seen, which is an advantage as the user can see how much of the drink is remaining. Another advantage of the PET drinks bottle is that it can be resealed, meaning it does not have to be consumed in one go and so can be reused.
  • Volume - The aluminium drinks can holds 200 ml less liquid than the PET drinks bottle. One reason for the increased manufacturing cost might be that the PET drinks bottle can hold more liquid.