This paper will consider how Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) processes can be used to improve the design quality of products at the concept stage. We appreciate that both QFD and DFMA are techniques that have been used for some time by mature product developers, and the successes achieved using each have been widely reported. Here, though, we will share our experiences of using these tools with novice designers, i.e. student engineers.The use of both QFD and DFMA has proven to be a valuable approach for ensuring that a balanced consideration of design quality is maintained in design project work. The projects described have been carried out with products manufactured by small to medium sized enterprises (SME's), where we have found significant opportunities for product improvement. The quantitative nature of DFMA analysis results allows the novice designer to identify clear targets for design improvement and to measure the effectiveness of any new solution, whilst attention to QFD ensures customer requirements are still being satisfied.Often, SME's are not aware of many of the best design practices and so are not able to meet the demand for continuous improvement of their products. However, we consider that if novice designers are able to successfully utilise design tools like QFD and DFMA and achieve improvements in design quality, then SME’s have no excuses for ignoring the benefits they could bring to their own product development activity.