Design Makes a Difference


Look around the room. Except for nature, everything in the room has been designed by man. But, how often do we actually consider the importance of strong design in developing an effective product? Sure, we recognize the importance of design in high-end products such as Apple iPhones, sports cars, and fashion. But, consider the ubiquitous products, such as eyeglasses and stoves, needed around the world by people with lower incomes. Is design important for these products as well?

The answer is a resounding “yes.” Design makes things better, and good design is even more critical for lower-income consumers as they cannot easily afford to swap out poorly-designed products. Case in point: $5 eyeglasses designed for school children in Mexico. Another great design: $100 laptops for XO Laptops, powered by 1/5 of the energy needed in a typical laptop. And, $10 stoves that cook without toxic smoke for the 3 billion people who cook over open flames.

Design doesn’t have to be expensive, but it must be effective and meet the needs of people worldwide. What would you redesign?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the innovation process and importance of design.
  2. Poll students: What are some of their favorite product designs? Why are these designs important?
  3. Show the design video:
  4. Also show the XO laptop design:
  5. Article on $5 eyeglasses:
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team select an idea or product that could use more effective design. What could be done for this product?

Source: Manufacturing Business Technology, CBS Sunday Morning

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