October 30, 2018

This product is still as relevant today as it was back in 2012 when we first designed it collaborating with the Ecowater team.

It is still selling well today and is one of the best selling water softeners of all time.



Asking the Right Questions Leads to Value-Added Solutions

A fundamental part of the WhiteBoard product development process is the “discovery & definition” phase. During this time, the WhiteBoard team partners with the client to identify and understand all the realities that need to be considered in order for the product to be successful (see “Form Follows Reality” below). When Ecowater, a leading OEM of water softeners, needed a new design for a key customer, the WhiteBoard team started by asking a lot of questions.

Ecowater’s priority was a design that would be stylish and modern in appearance. This was accomplished by looking for inspiration outside of the product’s otherwise utilitarian category. Additionally, through the discovery & definition process, the team saw further opportunities to make improvements to the function of the product.

First, the opening was lowered to make it easier to load the salt. Next, the brine tank was tapered so that the product could nest, saving storage space during shipping and storage. Finally, the design was streamlined to reduce the number of parts and simplify assembly.

The result is a modern looking water softener that is easier for the consumer to use and more efficient for Ecowater to manufacture, successfully sold through a leading national retailer. Consumer feedback has been very positive and the new design has resulted in a significant increase in sales.

Form Follows Reality™

Our Approach: Form Follows Reality™ You have heard the phrase “form follows function.” It was coined by architect Louis Sullivan in 1896 to emphasize how a building’s design should always reflect its intended purpose. It has since been adapted by product designers to guide product development. We at WhiteBoard Product Solutions believe that function is only one of the essential requirements for a truly successful product design. Our mantra is Form Follows Reality™. Form Follows Reality is rooted in the original appreciation for function, often one of the most important realities, but it also understands that there are other factors that determine the success of a product. Every project has multiple requirements, constraints and needs that must be defined to enable a product to succeed in the marketplace. These are the realities that inform the decisions that drive the design process. Form Follows Reality recognizes that function, aesthetics, cost of goods, timeline, R&D budget, tooling investment, manufacturing capabilities, distribution channels, merchandisability, and a product’s competitive environment are sometimes competing realities that need to be identified and weighed against each other to drive a project to achieve success. How does WhiteBoard do this? We collaborate with our clients to identify and rank each project’s most important realities. We listen. We question. We challenge. We ideate. We define. Once a project begins, we use those ranked realities to drive the decision-making process. And we make sure that every member of the team understands how those realities fit into the end result. That means marketers, engineers, manufacturers, and designers are all working toward the same goal from the very start of a project. Say we are designing a retail product that our client wants to sell in large quantities. Along with a variety of other factors, we will determine at the start of the design process how many units will fit on a 12-inch shelf. If reducing the size of a product or its packaging by just a fraction of an inch can make the difference between five or six products being displayed, our entire team works together to determine the most successful solution. If this collaborative approach sounds like common sense, it is. But it’s also too frequently missing in product design, where departments often operate as separate fiefdoms and lack of communication between each department can lead to late-stage changes that escalate costs and delay schedules. By following Form Follows Reality, iconic product designs can be created that not only meet or exceed our client’s needs and expectations, but succeed in the marketplace and quickly become industry standards. WhiteBoard