Can a Graphic Designer Also Do Product Design?

If you’re looking into adding digital products to your business, product design is going to be a big part of the process. When it comes to your business, it’s important to have concise branding throughout every part of it. If you already have a graphic designer who works on other aspects of your business, you may be wondering if they can also do product design.

In general, product designers and graphic designers specialize in different aspects of design. While graphic designers focus on the visual aspects of a design, product designers focus on usefulness and functionality. Therefore, not all graphic designers will have the expertise to tackle a product design project.

It’s important to find a designer you trust when starting on the creation of a new product. You may even need different designers to handle different aspects within your business. Keep reading to find out if a graphic designer can do product design, or if you should hire additional help.

Can A Graphic Designer Do Product Design?

The field of graphic design is quite large, with many designers breaking off to specialize in different things. Some may specialize in logo creation and in web design, and other may work with the analytical side with UX design and product design. While there are some graphic designers well-versed enough in user experience (UX) and user interface (IU) to tackle specialized areas such a product design, this isn’t typically the case.

As a general rule, graphic design and product design are different roles and should be treated as such. In fact, a product designer’s role is closer to a UX designer than a graphic designer in that they do more work in research and analytics than aesthetics and marketing.

Hiring a graphic designer to do product design might have you missing out on key processes like system design, analysis, and maximizing user interaction.

How Are Graphic Design and Product Design Different?

Graphic design is the art of creating content to convey a message in a clear on concise way. By applying visual hierarchy, proximity, and layout techniques, graphic designers can meet users’ specific needs and communicate certain ideas or messages involved with a project, event, product, or campaign.

Product designers, on the other hand, come up with different ideas that can be used to develop products that people use. A product designer is primarily concerned with applying design principles for usability, from the looks and feel of a product to how it should work and how it will be connected. This often requires more of a focus on user interface design and user experience design.

What Does a Product Designer Do?

While graphic designers are required to learn various design elements to create an appealing end product, product designers focus on usefulness over aesthetic.

Much of a product designer’s day is spent doing research. As the problem solvers of the design world, they need to be the leading experts in the field. A product designer’s goal is to gain a better understand of what the user wants and needs.

Some of the tasks you can expect from a product designer include:

  • Study user behavior
  • Meet with stakeholders and product managers
  • Create interface prototypes
  • Conduct interviews and surveys
  • Test and analyze uses and product operations
  • Improve upon designs that already exist
  • Consult designer takes and feedback
  • Propose improvements and changes

Overall, product designers work to make a site or product better and more enjoyable to use. While elements like design and aesthetic do have a place in product design, the ultimate goal is the user’s needs.  

What Tools Do Product Designers Use?

The tools that product designers use are also different the those of a graphic designer. While graphic designer use software programs like those found in Adobe’s Creative Cloud or design websites like Canva and Placeit, product design software is more diverse.

Along with the typical graphic design tools, product designers can expect to use data analytic tools, CAD software, wireframing and prototyping tools, and project management software.

Should You Hire a Graphic Designer for Product Design?

Unless your graphic designer is well-versed in UX design, UI design, and product research, it’s not recommended to hire a graphic designer for the job.

Instead, a product designer, UX researcher, or UI designer would be better suited for the tasks involved in product design.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the difference between product design and graphic design, it should be pretty clear how different these roles are. While it is possible for a graphic designer to learn product design, it isn’t recommended hiring one person do complete both tasks.