Why you need both product design and product engineering for your project.
We are product designers. A question we frequently hear from new clients is just wherein the difference between our job and that of product engineers lies - and why they need both for successful product development. This seems to be unclear especially for startups and companies that have not developed a new product in a while, and are thus less familiar with the process.
Why does it take both design and engineering for product development? Where do the respective competences and responsibilities lie? How do they work together for their clients to create product solutions that work and delight?
A large part of our expertise as product designers lies in designing technologically advanced products. Our job is to make these products usable, understandable and desirable. We focus on users to define product features and form: establishing workflows for intuitive product use, designing three-dimensional shape, physical interaction elements and digital interfaces; we adjust look & feel for brand and market. We do not develop the underlying technologies, nor do we develop technical engineering for these products.
"Our job is to make these products usable, understandable and desirable."
Basically, we optimize products to make humans happy: customers, users – and our clients’ sales department! Usability, look, shape, user experience, and a fitting presentation on the market serve this purpose and are thus clearly on the designer’s side.
Product engineers, on the other hand, make sure that all those little demons hiding within physical matter (or software code) stay happy. Thus, issues related purely to the technical field are clearly on the engineer’s side: when it comes to structural integrity, mechanical/electronic components, and production preparation, the little demons within need to stay happy, or they will sabotage the product, so to speak.
The next post of this series will deal with the notable overlap between these two disciplines: to develop successful products, product designers develop creative solutions with technical aspects in mind, while engineers work on the technical basis for these creative solutions. Coming soon in the Antimatter Lab!
About the author: Heinrich Lentz is the founder of Antimatter, a physical / digital product design agency in Vienna/Austria, and functions as its design director. Previously he has been working in product and ux/ui design for agencies in Austria and Spain and lecturing at IED Barcelona.