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November 14, 2013

Websites may be the future of package design

Websites may be the future of package design

Websites may be the future of package design – or maybe not.

In the event that Makerbot Digitizers or other types of and we no longer have to purchase items already fabricated by manufacturers (and we all have personal jetpacks that fly us to long weekends on Mars), there will be a diminished need for product packaging.

Don’t get us wrong; 3D printing will definitely have a very enthusiastic audience. What if you need a part for a specific car and the manufacturer no longer makes parts? Well, if you have a 3D printer and the correct software, you won’t have to troll eBay for a replacement and wait for it to arrive in the mail – you can just “print” the part out yourself! The same goes for parts for construction, plumbing, electrical wiring – anything that requires objects of a very specific dimension. Imagine living in a world where you were no longer at the mercy of auto mechanics and parts that take weeks to arrive. The very thought makes us want to high-five Tony the Tiger.

The 3D printer will surely be a phenomenon in certain industries. In private homes? Maybe, maybe not. If so, what will happen to product packaging, then? What will we do? How will the world continue to turn on its axis?

There have been two major innovations that have come close to eliminating tangible items: digital music and streaming movies. And yet, even though the original media is becoming less and less relevant, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be absolutely no need for packaging of any kind. And, let’s not forget: websites are a form of packaging – they package the company brand, after all.

MP3 Downloads

One would think that music packaging would be all but gone, but there are still some holdouts that insist on purchasing music in CD form. Some even go so far as to by record albums. The rarity of CDs and record albums makes their package design all the more important. When something can be classified as a rarity or a specialty item, it needs appropriately splendid packaging. As the need for large-scale pre-published CDs dies away, the remainder will have to be lovingly displayed.

Movies

We may have streaming videos, but we don’t yet have streaming special features or DVD commentary tracks. Moreover, when a popular film has an anniversary edition with tons of documentary features and booklets and such, there will inevitably be a huge multi-disk pack that people will want to buy.

Website Packaging, so to Speak

Alright, after the apocalypse when there are no longer physical retail outlets and Walmart has gone up in flames, there won’t be a need to design packages the stand out on store shelves. What will we do? We can turn the website into a package.

How can a website be a package, for heaven’s sake? It’s not protecting an item from damage during shipping; it’s not keeping multiple loose pieces from rolling around on the floor; it’s not keeping the product it’s selling sterile. The only thing a website and a product package has in common is the ability to catch the eye of the consumer. That’s it.

Nowadays, with people doing a huge amount of shopping on Amazon.com or other huge online retailers, product packaging has turned into something that has to be translated onto a Web page. Ingredients should be published online, as do whatever warnings and instructions the FDA requires. The shape of the package itself isn’t particularly important to the online shopper – the label design, however, is king.

Never fear – there will always be something in need of design. If a company sells blueprints for products, then the website from which the blueprints are sold will need a steady design hand. Likewise, the materials necessary for producing the 3D printouts will have to be encased in some sort of protective vessel, which will have to be designed. Let’s make lemonade out of those futuristic lemons!

author

by Kevin Smith
Managing partner at SmashBrand. We're a group of experienced brand owners, thinkers and world-class designers united by an obsession for creating category disrupting brand experiences.

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