Interaction Designer Vs. Product Designer

The differences between interaction designers and product designers go beyond salaries, career outlooks, and degree requirements to include daily responsibilities and design focuses.

Comparing Interaction Designers to Product Designers

Professionals in both of these careers work to make attractive and user-friendly consumer items. The difference is, interaction designers focus more on digital medias, while product designers focus on actual merchandise. More information about their similarities, differences and career information is outlined below.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Interaction Designers Bachelor's Degree $79,459** 5% (for all graphic designers)
Product Designers Bachelor's Degree $67,790 (for all commercial and industrial designers) 5% (for all commercial and industrial designers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ** (2017)

Responsibilities of Interaction Designers vs. Product Designers

Though those in both careers consider data and attempt to meet the expectations of clients, the things they design are very different. If a company wants to reach more customers with a website or gain more downloads of their phone applications, they work with an interaction designer. On the other hand, if a company wants to design a new product or rebrand with new logos, they will hire a product designer. Interestingly, when an interaction designer creates digital media, they must still consider the look and movement of the product, much like product designers do as they create a tangible item.

Interaction Designers

A new phone application that allows users to share images or a website that informs visitors on the latest political news are both things designed by interaction designers. First, these professionals may meet with client companies to learn about the details of the proposed website or application. They may then survey users to determine what they look for in their experience with digital media. This makes it possible for interaction designers to match the look and movement through the media with what feels natural to users.

Job responsibilities of an interaction designer include:

  • Researching technological trends to remain updated on the latest advancements
  • Building working prototypes of websites and applications to show clients
  • Adjusting initial designs according to client feedback or any issues found during testing
  • Choosing every detail of the media, including colors and pictures or other visuals

Product Designers

Product designers dream up ideas for the function and look of manufactured goods and digital media. They meet with clients to determine what specifications they already have for the product. The goal is to design an item or website that fits into the recognized brand of the company. Product designers review sales, media, and production data to determine what niche the new product will fill most effectively. When designing the item, they consider the look and feel, as well as any materials that may be used to create it.

Job responsibilities of a product designer include:

  • Sketching concepts or using computer software to create models
  • Working with engineers to ensure the proposed design and materials are safe
  • Determining the cost of producing the product, with the goal of keeping it as low as possible
  • Assisting with ideas on marketing and distributing the product

Related Careers

If you're interested in a career as an interaction designer, you may want to also research a job as an art director, since both deal with how people engage with forms of media. If a position as a product designer seems more fulfilling, you could look into a career as a CAD drafter, as both work to design products.

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