In an interview with Asahi Shimbun, Kimishima stated that the Switch was designed to provide a "new way to play" that would "have a larger impact than the Wii U". Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé emphasized the console's appeal as a device that would provide gamers the option to play at home or on the go, and noted that it would enable developers to create new types of games.
Part of the inspiration of the Switch's design was from feedback players had given Nintendo on the Wii Remote, according to Shinya Takahashi. With the release of games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit, players had asked Nintendo if they could make the Wii Remote in a smaller form factor, potentially strapped it to a part of their body. This led to Nintendo envisioning what a smaller form-factor controller could provide in both hardware and gameplay, and led to the idea of a console that was small enough with these new controllers to also be portable. Other concepts came out of consumer feedback that was critical of the Wii U. Fils-Aimé said that one common criticism they had for the Wii U was that while players did enjoy using the Wii U GamePad and would want to play games on it anywhere, it became functionless if they moved a distance away from the main console. This served for Nintendo to design a home console that the player could take with them anywhere.
One market area that Nintendo wanted the Switch to satisfy was to create a device that could play "leisurely" video games along games that are aimed to be played "deeply", attempting to bridge a polarization of the gaming market at the time, according to Shinya Takahashi and Yoshiaki Koizumi, general manager and deputy general manager of Nintendo's Entertainment Planning & Development division (EPD), respectively. Takahashi considered that the Switch's design addresses the cultural differences between Western and Japanese gamers, particularly students; while Japanese students generally spend more time together after school and where gaming is integral to that social time, Western students tend to have busier schedules that limit this, making the portability features of the Switch capable of meeting both lifestyles. In some cases, games for the Switch are designed to encourage social interactions in groups, such as 1-2-Switch which requires players to look face-to-face rather than at the screen. Kimishima said that, as Nintendo is an entertainment company, they see games on the Switch that encourage enjoyable social interactions as supporting their ultimate goals.Two key elements that were set to address the mixed market were the ability for the unit to play both on a television screen and while used as a portable, and the use of detachable controllers.The "Switch" name was selected not only to refer to the console's ability to switch from handheld to home console modes, but to present "the idea of being a 'switch' that will flip and change the way people experience entertainment in their daily lives".
Koizumi served as the general producer of the Switch during development. According to Miyamoto, the Switch's development within Nintendo was headed by younger employees, with him saying "...it's really been them that have put this forward and designed this system". Miyamoto said of the younger employees: "I always look for designers who aren’t super-passionate game fans. I make it a point to ensure they're not just a gamer, but that they have a lot of different interests and skill sets." Miyamoto, Takeda, and Iwata were less involved, but provided necessary oversight on the Switch's development principally around the cost of implementing new features that would make the Switch stand out. Around five different prototypes were developed for the Switch before they finalized on the released design. This included developing different methods of how the Joy-Con controllers would physically connect to the console, including using magnets to hold them in place. For Miyamoto, his limited involvement allowed him to spend more time on Nintendo's software titles being developed at the time, such as Super Mario Run.