Have you ever wondered what a Product Designer actually does? What tasks do they do? What challenges do they face? I’m Ben Hawkins, a Product Designer at ROYD Tool Group, and I’m going to give you an insight into what it’s like to be a Product Designer.
What does a typical day look like for a Product Designer?
My role encompasses a variety of tasks, so no two days are the same for me. My day starts at 8 am, and the first thing I do is look for any urgent emails that could be from suppliers or upper management.
Once I’ve checked my emails, I would refer to my task list and plan my day. I use a project management system called Monday.com to help manage my workload and plan what I’m going to be working on for that day. I work through tasks in order of priority, but as the role can be quite reactive, the focus of projects is constantly changing!.
Being a Product Designer essentially involves bringing products from inception through to delivery and everything in between. Typically, this would include working on concept designs and prototypes, the production of 2D drawings or generating new 3D designs for manufacture. As well as working on new products, I could also be working with existing suppliers, continuously improving the quality of our current product range.
Quite often, I will also support other departments with any technical information they may need. For example, when a final product is not ready, I may work with the marketing team to produce high-quality 3D rendered photos or animations to show how the final product may look or function.
What challenges do you face?
At times the role can demand relatively short deadlines, requiring a quick turnaround of work. An example of this could be a sales-driven project, where a concept is required quickly to show off an idea to a potential customer, and often it can be time-sensitive.
What do you like about being a Product Designer?
What I like the most about my role is the creative freedom and problem solving that’s involved. I quite like aesthetics and how things look, so making something functional but also desirable is what interests me.
I also enjoy the variation of my role, I’m not someone that copes very well with repetition, so working in a fast-paced, varied role is a lot more interesting to me. Ultimately, seeing a product you have worked on come to fruition is exciting.
What skills do you need to become a Product Designer?
There are a few key skills you need to have in order to become a successful Product Designer, with good organisational skills being the most notable. You can have quite a lot on your plate, and although you might not be working on it all at the same time, you need to be able to manage your tasks effectively.
Problem-solving is another key skill. You may not always have an immediate answer to the problem, but being able to think pragmatically or outside of the box can help, especially If It’s something that hasn’t been done before.
It can, at times, be difficult to work to a schedule and work through your day as planned as something may come up that requires urgent attention. So being quite flexible is a must.
Finally, although it’s not essential, being naturally creative is beneficial. To be able to think about something in a way that hasn’t been done before or using past experiences to come up with new solutions.
Should a Product Designer be knowledgeable about the products in the industry they’re working in?
No, you don’t need to be an expert in the industry you’re working in. I work in the construction industry, so I’ve naturally used similar products over the years in DIY. But I wasn’t an expert in construction tools before I started, which is a good thing because it helps you think outside the box.
What advice would you give to people looking to become a Product Designer?
My best advice to anyone interested in becoming a Product Designer would certainly be to consider working towards a qualification in design. The courses available set you up with a broad range of key skills and lay a foundation, which can help you shape the career path you want to follow, especially if you were unsure of what you want to do like I was originally!
I certainly think it’s possible to be a successful Product Designer without a degree, as I do believe you learn the most in a working environment. Still, for most companies, a relevant qualification is required, so it may be harder to break in to.