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Product Design vs. Industrial Design: What’s the Difference?

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Product Design vs. Industrial Design: What’s the Difference?

The terms product design and industrial design are frequently used interchangeably, yet key differences separate the two fields. Industrial design refers to designing products for mass production, whereas product design refers to transforming unique ideas into realistic designs. 

We will examine all the similarities and differences between the two roles, so you can thoroughly comprehend which professional you should depend on for your creative project.

What Is Product Design?

Product design can generally be understood as the process of conceiving, developing, and iterating products that answer certain needs in a market or solve problems for customers.

Successful product design generally revolves around a single guiding principle: understanding the end-user consumer (or who the product is being designed for). By working to empathetically understand the routines, behaviors, frustrations, needs, and wants of their potential clients, product designers try to solve real problems for real people.

A great product designer succeeds at delivering a fully functional product that can be used intuitively. A product designer also works to create products that consistently perform well in the market. Good product design positively affects businesses; in fact,  businesses that embrace design generate 32% more revenue, and 56% higher shareholder returns, on average!

From early research to concept development through prototyping and usability testing, product designers are responsible for overseeing a project throughout its entire product lifecycle. 

Building a great design team is time-consuming and not always easy. So, if you don't have the time or budget to hire and train new employees, Creatives On Call can match you with a dedicated product designer who can make your vision a reality.

All our product designers are experienced professionals who will work closely with your team to help you develop a product from the ground up!

What Is Industrial Design?

In the simplest of terms, ​​industrial design is the design process used in mass manufacturing. It also can be thought of as the creative act of determining and defining a product's form and features. 

Most industrial designers are tasked with the following responsibilities:

  • Design updated versions of existing products that appeal to consumers and sell well.
  • Ensure that these products could be manufactured in large volumes.
  • Search for possible production methods that could reduce overall manufacturing costs.

Industrial design combines art and usability to develop systems for mass production of goods. The industrial design process is creative and analytical as popular designs must respond creatively to common problems, while also being intelligently constructed. This type of design is primarily concerned with technical concepts, products, and processes. Industrial design also includes engineering and market placement.

An excellent industrial designer takes a product that serves a specific purpose and enhances its beauty and functionality. Industrial designers are responsible for the products that are constantly improved and re-released to consumers (think iPhone or other Apple products). 

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, companies that integrate industrial designers into their teams have a 9.1% higher employment growth rate than companies that don’t. If you’re still not convinced of the importance of design, listen to this! Small manufacturers saw a 17.5% increase in average sales of improved goods and services when they invested in design.

Differences Between Industrial Design and Product Design

One of the key differences between industrial design and product design is that industrial design is a broader field. In general, industrial design refers to activities such as product specification, aesthetics, and presentation. Product design, on the other hand, describes the detailed process of designing products based on guidelines that industrial design engineers have supplied.

Still not really seeing the difference? Don’t panic—here’s a simplified version of the complex differences between the two fields:

Priority

Industrial Design - Its number one priority is creating solutions. 

Product Design - Its number one priority is sharing the solutions with the customers and manufacturers.

Area of Focus

Industrial Design - Concerned with the aesthetics of products as well as their manufacturing.

Product Design - Concentrate on the product's detailed design.

Ensured Solution

Industrial Design - It ensures that the products meet customer expectations and are suitable for mass production.

Product Design - It ensures that the products operate in accordance with their specifications and applicable standards.

Macro versus Micro

Industrial Design - It generally focuses on mass-producing specialized products, such as cars or computers. 

Product Design - It focuses more on developing everyday products, such as a tea kettle or toothbrush.

Primary Concern

Industrial Design - It’s concerned with improving a product's appeal for customers.

Product Design - It’s concerned with the details and features of a specific product.

Technical Knowledge

Industrial Design - It must be knowledgeable about engineering, manufacturing processes, and business operations and models. This includes knowing how to produce computer-aided drawings (CAD).

Product Design - It doesn't require manufacturing knowledge, though product designers do need technical knowledge of product specifications.

Now that we have a better understanding of product design and industrial design, we can go over the difference between macro and micro design. 

Macro

This element of design is another way of saying “big picture.” Here are some examples of macro design questions:

  • Are we designing in accordance with how the brand presents itself in the big picture?
  • In terms of stylistic choices, does the product adhere to the brand guidelines?
  • Is the product we’re creating usable?
  • Are we solving a design issue with the creation of this product?
  • Is the problem being solved in the most efficient way for the user?

Macro design principles are what enable us to step back from our work and evaluate the critical big-picture elements that connect everything we do.

Micro

This element of design refers to the small but important details of a product. Questions a product or industrial designer may ask themselves in the micro stage of development include:

  • Is this color scheme appropriate for this product?
  • How rounded should the curves on this product be?
  • Should the on/off button be more prominent?
  • Is this switch easy to use?

Though they seem small, the tiny details of a product add up and can make a monumental difference in terms of user experience. 

The industrial designers and product designers at Creatives On Call are experts at navigating the macro and micro stages of the design process. We’ll work diligently with you to ensure that you end up with a beautiful, intuitively designed, and intelligent final product your brand can be proud of. 

Conclusion

There’s a lot of overlap between product design and industrial design, and understanding the distinctions between these two fields can be difficult. But familiarizing yourself with these areas of design can help you understand why both are essential for a successful business. 

After reading this article, you might find that your brand would benefit more from hiring a product design expert versus an industrial designer. It’s also possible that you’ve determined what you really need is an effective multifunctional team of both product and industrial designers!

Whatever your business needs, Creatives On Call can set you up for success. We know that great design is about more than just aesthetics. It’s the first impression you make on potential customers—it’s how you build trust. We are proud to provide our partners with exceptionally well-designed final products that combine usability, function, and beauty while maintaining each brand’s essence. 

If you need help bringing a product to life, we can guide you through the first brainstorming sessions to the final iterations. Reach out to Creatives On Call to begin crafting your perfect design team today!

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