Exploring this Job
Read books to expand your knowledge of the field. Here are some suggestions: The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman; The Fundamentals of Product Design, by Richard Morris; Product Design and Development, by Karl Ulrich, Steven Eppinger, and Maria C. Yang; and Iconic Product Design: An Illustrated History of the World’s Most Innovative Devices, by Wolfgang Joensson.
Create a plan to design a new product or improve an existing one to obtain a basic understanding of what the field entails. Test your ideas out on friends and family to receive some feedback and keep working to develop or improve your product.
Talk to product designers about their careers. Perhaps you could even job shadow one or two as they work.
The job responsibilities for product designers vary based on their industry, specific employer, and their experience and educational background, but most designers have the following duties.
Research and Consultation
The designer conducts market research and review sales data (of similar products) to assess whether the proposed product is viable and competitive with other products on the market. They meet with executives and members of their company’s research department to discuss the look and feel of the product (from the colors and designs for its outward appearance to the materials that are used to build it). Designers also schedule focus groups with potential or current customers to gather information on their preferences regarding the product.
Designers work with their design team to create and submit wireframes, storyboards, journey maps, and other design and product evaluation tools for evaluation by the project team and management. The design team revises the design based on feedback from executives and other stakeholders. At many companies, the design process concludes with the creation of a high-fidelity design, a highly functional and interactive final mock-up of a design that is utilized to test usability and identify issues in the workflow.
The manufacture or development of the product begins here. The product designer works with engineers and production managers to oversee the creation of the product. They also work with the marketing department to ensure synergy between the new or enhanced product and other products that are sold by the company. At some companies, the designer manages the entire project while, at others, he or she may report to a product manager or other supervisor.
The product designer evaluates the finished product and continues to conduct market research—working closely with marketing and public relations professionals—to identify ways to improve the product to increase sales. They may add features after receiving negative feedback about a product or even create multiple versions of a product if customer research and sales figures indicate there is strong demand.