Career Development

What Does a Product Design Lead Do?

Find out what a product design lead does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a product design lead.

Product design leads are responsible for overseeing the development of new products. They commonly work with a team of designers, engineers, and other professionals to ensure that each product meets quality standards and is ready for market.

Product design leads may also be tasked with managing external vendors or contractors who help develop specific components of a product. This might include things like sourcing raw materials or manufacturing parts.

Product Design Lead Job Duties

A product design lead typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Developing conceptual designs and models using computer-assisted design (CAD) software to create prototypes of products
  • Communicating with other team members regarding progress on projects and any issues that may arise
  • Reviewing current product trends and making recommendations for new product designs based on consumer preferences
  • Managing the entire product development process from start to finish, including creating detailed design specifications and working with engineering teams to ensure designs are feasible
  • Working with marketing teams to ensure that a product is appealing to its intended market
  • Conducting market research to identify new product opportunities in emerging markets or industry segments
  • Leading a team of designers who are responsible for creating concepts, drawings, and models of new products
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of designs to ensure that they meet customer needs and are feasible for manufacturing
  • Developing prototypes of new products using materials such as plastics, metals, fabrics, and wood

Product Design Lead Salary & Outlook

Product design leads are typically paid a salary, which can vary depending on their level of experience, the size of the company they work for, and the city or region where they live.

  • Median Annual Salary: $125,000 ($60.1/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $275,000 ($132.21/hour)

The employment of product design leads is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

Demand for product design will depend on the growth of new and emerging industries, such as healthcare technology and nanotechnology, in which product design plays a key role. However, automation and computer-aided design (CAD) software are expected to increase productivity and allow product designers to work on more projects at once.

Product Design Lead Job Requirements

A product design lead position may require the following:

Education: Product design leads are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in industrial design, product design or a related field. Some of the coursework these programs offer includes 3D modeling, computer-aided design, engineering, materials science and manufacturing.

Training & Experience: Product design leads typically have at least 10 years of experience in the industry. They may have worked as a product designer, a product engineer or a product manager before advancing to a leadership role. They may have worked in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, technology, automotive, healthcare, food and beverage, retail and more.

Product design leads may also have experience in a leadership role. They may have worked as a senior product designer, a senior product engineer or a senior product manager before advancing to a leadership role.

Certifications & Licenses: Product design leads are eligible for several professional certifications that may improve their chances of being hired by a new employer, increase their earning potential and help them master the skills needed to perform their job.

Product Design Lead Skills

Product design leads need the following skills in order to be successful:

Creativity: Creativity is the ability to generate new ideas and solutions. As a product design lead, you may be responsible for developing the overall design of a product. This means you may need to come up with a variety of ideas and solutions for how to create the product. Your creativity can help you generate new ideas and solutions for the product.

Communication: Communication is the act of relaying information to others. As a product design lead, you may need to communicate with other team members, clients and other stakeholders. This requires you to be able to convey information in a clear and concise manner. You can also use communication to build relationships with others and foster trust.

Problem-solving: Problem-solving skills allow you to identify and address issues that may arise during the product design process. As a product design lead, you may be responsible for overseeing the entire process, so it’s important to be able to identify potential challenges and develop solutions to them. For example, if you notice that a new product design isn’t meeting the company’s standards, you may be able to suggest changes to the design or suggest that the design be scrapped and a new one created.

Time management: Product design leads often have excellent time management skills, as they often have many responsibilities and deadlines to meet. They may have to manage a team of product designers and ensure that each team member is working on their tasks and projects on time. They may also have to manage the production of a new product, so they may need to ensure that all of the necessary steps are completed on time.

Teamwork: Teamwork is the ability to work with others to achieve a common goal. As a product design lead, you may work with a team of other professionals, including engineers, marketing specialists and other design professionals. Having strong teamwork skills can help you to collaborate with others and motivate them to work hard.

Product Design Lead Work Environment

Product design leads work in a variety of settings, including office buildings, manufacturing plants, and retail stores. They may spend time working on a computer, on the phone, or in meetings. They may also travel to visit clients or attend trade shows. Product design leads typically work full time and may work overtime to meet deadlines. They may also travel frequently to meet with clients or attend trade shows.

Product Design Lead Trends

Here are three trends influencing how product design leads work. Product design leads will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Collaboration Between Design and Development

The need for more collaboration between design and development is a trend that is quickly becoming the norm in the product design industry. This is because it allows for a better understanding of what each team member needs in order to be successful.

As this trend becomes more popular, product designers will need to learn how to work with developers in order to create products that are both visually appealing and functional. They will also need to be able to communicate effectively with other members of the team in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

More Focus on User Experience (UX)

User experience (UX) has become an increasingly important focus for businesses in recent years. This is due to the fact that users now have more power than ever before, as they can easily switch to a competitor’s product if they are not satisfied with the user experience.

As a result, product designers are now being asked to focus on creating a great user experience, rather than just designing a good looking product. This requires a deep understanding of user psychology and how to create a product that meets their needs.

A Greater Emphasis on Prototyping

Prototyping is an essential part of the product design process, as it allows designers to test out their ideas before committing to them. However, in recent years there has been a greater emphasis on prototyping, as it allows companies to get a feel for how a product will look and function before investing too much time and money into it.

This trend is likely to continue in the future, as more and more businesses realize the value of prototyping. As a result, product designers will need to be familiar with different types of prototyping methods and how to use them effectively.

How to Become a Product Design Lead

A career as a product design lead can be incredibly rewarding. However, it’s important to first consider if this is the right role for you. As a product design lead, you will be responsible for leading a team of designers and developers in creating products that meet customer needs. This requires strong leadership skills, as well as an understanding of user experience (UX) and human-centered design (HCD).

If you are interested in becoming a product design lead, there are several ways you can prepare yourself for this role. First, you should have experience working in a design team and developing products. You should also have a deep understanding of UX and HCD principles. Additionally, it’s important to have strong communication skills so that you can effectively communicate your ideas with both internal and external stakeholders.

Advancement Prospects

Product design leads can advance their career by becoming more involved in the product development process. They may take on additional responsibilities such as managing a team of designers, overseeing the production process, or working with clients to develop new products. As they gain more experience, product design leads can move up to higher-level positions such as director of product development or vice president of design.

Product Design Lead Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we’re looking for a design lead who will be responsible for the end-to-end product design of our web and mobile applications. The ideal candidate will have experience leading a team of designers and will be able to take a product from concept to launch. They will work closely with the product and engineering teams to ensure that the design is not only beautiful but also user-friendly and functional. They will also be responsible for conducting user research, creating wireframes and prototypes, and overseeing the production of high-quality visual designs.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Design and oversee the development of new products from conception to launch, working with cross-functional teams throughout the process
  • Conduct user research, interviews, and surveys to generate insights that inform product design decisions
  • Create detailed user flows, wireframes, prototypes, and high-fidelity visual designs for web, mobile, and other digital platforms
  • Collaborate closely with engineering, marketing, and other stakeholders to ensure that designs are feasible and aligned with business goals
  • Advocate for the user throughout the product development process, ensuring that products are intuitive, accessible, and easy to use
  • Stay up to date on latest industry trends and technologies, and incorporate them into designs when appropriate
  • Help define and evolve the company’s design language and style guide
  • Manage and mentor junior designers, providing feedback and guidance on their work
  • Participate in design reviews and provide constructive feedback on other designers’ work
  • Handle multiple projects concurrently and adjust priorities as needed in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment
  • Present designs to stakeholders and justify design decisions based on user needs and business objectives
  • Continuously iterate on designs based on feedback from users, stakeholders, and other team members

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Minimum 7 years in product design, with 5+ years in a leadership role
  • Proven experience designing digital products, including websites and mobile apps
  • Expertise in UX/UI design principles and methodologies
  • Solid understanding of front-end development technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Proficient in Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, InVision, and other relevant design software
  • Excellent communication, presentation, and project management skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in graphic design, interaction design, or related field
  • Master’s degree in design or business administration
  • Experience working in an Agile/Scrum environment
  • Working knowledge of user research methods and tools


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