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

Across the world, specialist designers are faced with everyone who doesn’t understand what they do. The word designer is used interchangeably, so the lines can become blurred, and knowing what each type of designer does is a challenge.

In this article, we give our opinion on industrial design vs. product design. You’ll learn what they are, the similarities and differences, and what they actually do.

Industrial Design vs. Product Design

What Is Industrial Design?

The principle of industrial design is focused on developing products to be produced on a mass industrial scale. This could entail creating new products from scratch or analyzing existing products and investigating how their appearance or functionality can be improved.

What Is Product Design?

Usually, product design forms a crucial part of the industrial design process. Essentially, product design includes everything up to the final prototyping of a product. This requires a product designer to focus on researching and finding reasons to create a product by understanding the target audience and its needs.

What Does A Product Designer Do?

A product designer creates new and refines existing products that provide a specific solution for a chosen target audience. Often, this focuses on everyday items.

However, as technology evolves, the job title has begun to include digital products, such as Saas software and apps.

In terms of knowledge, a Product Designer understand the entire product development cycle. However, they don’t need a detailed understanding of manufacturing processes.

What Does An Industrial Designer Do?

Industrial designers take the role of a Product Designer a step further. While an Industrial Designer is interested in the creation of a product, they are also responsible for getting these products through the manufacturing processes and to the end user. 

Usually, industrial design is interested in complex products produced in large quantities, such as cars, computers, and smartphones.

Expert knowledge of manufacturing processes and producing blueprints is crucial for an industrial designer. Their drawings and calculations have to be on point because they’re used by the manufacturer to create the final product.

The Overlap Between Industrial Design & Product Design

As product design forms the early stages of the industrial design process, there is much overlap between the skills required for both roles. There are identical hard and soft skills needed to be successful.


As you might expect, product and industrial designers exist to solve problems. Overall, they’re dedicated to helping end users and making their lives better or easier. This is done through the products they create.

 Additionally, industrial design seeks to solve manufacturing problems. Whether that be a change in process or tweaking the measurements within the product design. They’re geared towards ensuring expert manufacturing, enabling the perfect product for end users.


To understand what consumers need and how products can be improved, industrial and product designers are reliant on conducting research. This could be understanding consumer habits, assessing product trends, or evaluating potential production costs.


Today, most sketching and technical drawing can be done digitally or with the influence of AI. However, it is still considered beneficial for both product and industrial designers. It enables them to work faster, to get multiple ideas down on paper, or to present initial ideas without spending too much time preparing a detailed technical drawing.

User Experience (UX)

Every product should be created with user experience at the forefront of the project. Crucially, the user must easily be able to achieve what the product aims to do. If a product is confusing or difficult to use, consumers won’t purchase it, making it a failure.

Therefore, industrial and product designers must have a solid understanding of UX.


The prototyping process sees an overlap between the roles. It is the stage where a product designer passes the product to the industrial designer. 

Firstly, the product designer is responsible for creating the prototype. Additionally, the industrial designer needs to understand the process they’ve gone through, allowing them to provide initial feedback and assess if the prototype is ready for manufacture.

In Summary

Overall, Product Designers are one of the most important elements of the industrial design process. These two roles have various elements of crossover. However, they are unique, and both are needed for products to be designed and manufactured perfectly, making them suitable for the desired end user.

Got questions about industrial or product design, or looking for an experienced designer to work with? Get in touch today.

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