Industrial designers consider how products and systems work, and how to make them work better. They also think about:
- Safety and health issues (ergonomic and human factors)
- Environmental issues
- Consumer preferences and marketing issues
- The best ways to present their ideas to others
- The best materials and processes to use
- The sustainability of the product’s lifecycle
Designers focus on maximizing the function, value, and appearance of products and product systems. Their primary goal is the mutual benefit of the user (often the consumer) and the manufacturer.
Industrial designers may specialize in a number of areas. They may focus on:
- Consumer or industrial products
- Office or home furnishings
- Scientific instruments
- Exhibit systems
They may design one-of-a-kind objects or mass-produced items. For example, they may develop childproof bottle caps, safety equipment, appliances, sports and leisure products, or toys and games.
In general, the designer:
- Consults with clients or manufacturers to come up with market requirements for the product or system
- Analyzes the intended function and user preferences to develop product specifications
- Researches production specifications, costs, properties of materials, and manufacturing methods
- Prepares presentations and reports for client or management approval
- Prepares concepts, sketches, drawings, models, and prototypes
- Consults with engineering design and production staff, model makers, and marketing staff
Industrial designers work closely with other members of the development group. These may include managers, marketing personnel, engineers, and manufacturers. They often are involved in activities such as new product planning and market research. Sometimes they monitor the manufacture of their designs in a factory.
More and more designers consider environmental concerns. They promote changes to the product design and manufacturing cycle. They design sustainable alternatives.
Industrial designers may also provide advice relating to client image or branding. This could include:
- Corporate identity systems
- Communication systems
- Interior space planning
- Exhibit design