Product designers are responsible for designing and developing the majority of the consumer products that people use in their everyday lives. All industries that manufacture consumer products employ product designers. For example, product designers work in electronics, furniture design, general manufacturing, automotive manufacturing, and many other fields. More specialized fields include medical technology and telecommunications device manufacturing. While many product designers work to meet consumer needs with completely new products, many of the product designers' job responsibilities involve improving existing designs. Design improvement may be needed for a variety of reasons, such as improvement of functionality, improvement of appearance, and manufacturing cost reductions.
Often, product designers work as members of multidisciplinary teams that include engineers, prototype fabricators, executive sales staff members, marketing and advertising team members, and others. As part of the design process, product designers employ a variety of technologies, including computer assisted design (CAD), drawings and blueprints, and 3D modeling. Product designers must have working knowledge of these technologies, as well as manufacturing methods, available materials, and budgetary and time considerations.
Product designers usually work full time in an office environment. They may be freelance workers who contract with companies or full-time employees. In addition to working in offices, product designers make frequent use of workshops, studios, and even factory space to aid the design process. Additional responsibilities include meeting with customers or co-workers to discuss designs and commercial needs, working as part of the design team, learning about new manufacturing technologies and materials, researching products and how to improve them, producing models or drawings, and working with engineers to produce prototypes.
Most employers require their product designers to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field, and relevant work experience is generally preferred.
Product Designer Tasks
- Coordinate artists or layout designers to ensure accurate design communication and efficiency.
- Modify or revise designs to meet customer needs or production limitations.
- Create design concepts, sketches, drawings, and illustrations, and determine the best presentation strategies.
- Research and remain up-to-date on current market trends.