Key Differences Between Product Design vs Product Management

Team Pepper
Posted on 6/05/228 min read
Key Differences Between Product Design vs Product Management
This article will provide insights into the similarities and differences between product design vs product management.

Table of Contents

● What Is Product Design?

● What Is Product Management?

● Product Design vs. Product Management

● An Example of a Typical Business Model

● 7 Effective Ways to Bring Product Design and Management Teams to Work Together

● Key Takeaways

● Conclusion

● FAQs


Product design vs product management; are terms used almost interchangeably in the digital age. However, the two jobs carry different responsibilities and require different skill sets, so it’s important to understand their differences.

Product design and product management are terms used in the tech industry, especially in startups, to talk about different team or organization roles. Both, product designers and product managers are crucial to your product’s success.

This article will explain product design vs product management, what skills are needed for each job, and how you can use both jobs to help your business compete in a more competitive market.


What Is Product Design?

Product design is part of product management. However, product design is also a term that refers to drawing or sketching out your ideas before they hit the digital form. Product designers focus on how a product looks and feels to deliver an optimal user experience to target demographics at specific price points, geographic locations, etc.

These designers are responsible for launching products and managing it throughout their lifecycle, including ideation and analysis, conceptualization, prototyping, testing, refining, verification, and launch/release/promotion.

Product design is most often associated with consumer products but can also be applied to software development and business-to-business (B2B) products.

It’s important to note that product design is not product management. Though it is a significant part of product management, product managers are ultimately responsible for maximizing products’ profit potential through project planning, financing, marketing, and development — plus getting products to market and growing sales. This role encompasses everything from pricing to positioning and sales channels.

What Is Product Management?

First and foremost, product management is an organizational function, not a technical one, a functional one, or an executive one. It’s most accurately described as a combination of all of those roles. Product management is about figuring out what people want and then making products to meet those needs, from idea to development to implementation.

Product managers are responsible for managing each stage of product lifecycle management (PLM) to create a final product that aligns with business goals. You will find product managers in every industry, from tech companies like Google and Microsoft to non-tech companies like PepsiCo and GE.

Product management can be challenging, especially for those new to it. It’s a role that requires an understanding of business, design, marketing, and more—and it will change as your company grows and evolves. Product managers usually report directly to C-level executives or CEOs.

Product Design vs Product Management

Product designers and product managers work side by side to develop a product, but they play very different roles in that process. By definition, a product designer works mainly within their head, designing products based on big-picture concepts while paying close attention to details of aesthetics and usability.

On the other hand, a product manager is more concerned with how products fit into larger business models and how customers use them. Product design is about making something pretty; product management is about making something useful.

Key Differences Between Product Designers And Product Managers

Product managers and product designers have many similarities and some key differences that separate their roles. They’re responsible for different product design, development, and implementation stages. Both are on the front lines of new product development, which is, at its core, all about knowing what customers want and tailoring products accordingly.

Product management focuses more on product strategy and product planning than product design; it often includes marketing responsibilities.

Product designers focus primarily on designing products; they may collaborate with other members of a company’s engineering team to develop prototypes, but ultimately it’s up to them to make sure products look good and function as intended.

While both play critical roles in new product development, each plays a different role in bringing products to market. Here are the differences between product designers and product managers.

● Product designers are more focused on creating products that consumers will want to buy, while product managers are more concerned with creating products that consumers need and can afford.

● Product designers are in charge of making a product look and feel good. Product managers are in charge of everything that happens during a product’s development, from ideation to launch and beyond.

● Product designers are usually more creative than product managers, who need to be able to work with a lot of people and spend a lot of money.

● Product designers work on one product simultaneously, while product managers juggle multiple products at once.

● Typically, product designers are more concerned with aesthetics than product managers.

● Product designers need to know how to draw and sketch ideas quickly, whereas product managers should have strong verbal communication skills and an eye for detail.

● Product designers are often tasked with developing new products from scratch, while product managers take existing products and improve them based on customer feedback.

● Product designers typically have a background in design or art, whereas product managers need to be able to think like consumers.

● Product designers typically have a bachelor’s degree in design or art; product managers usually have an MBA or other business-related degree (such as marketing).

An Example Of A Typical Business Model

A business model describes how a company is positioned within its industry. While each business model is different, some basic elements may apply to all businesses.

For example, a common element for many businesses is creating and delivering products or services to customers. Another element could be profit maximization to provide an economic benefit to owners or shareholders.

Startups commonly use business models that include product design and development, information management, and product lifecycle management. Each of these three types of product design and development approaches has its benefits, but they also have limitations.

PIM: Product Information Management


Product Information Management (PIM) is an approach that can help address some of these limitations by assisting companies in managing complex data more efficiently. PIM allows organizations to gather, store, and retrieve product-related data from multiple sources across various departments to be accessed when needed. PIM also helps companies organize their product data into one central location, so it’s easier to find when needed.

PLM: Product Lifecycle Management


Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is another product design and development strategy that may help manage product information. PLM focuses on managing product data throughout its lifecycle—from design through manufacturing, sales, and service.

It allows businesses to collaborate better among different teams during each stage of a product’s lifecycle, so they can make better decisions about how best to design products to meet customer needs while remaining profitable. This requires a strong understanding of customer needs and efficient production, packaging, and distribution processes.

It’s an iterative approach, meaning each stage builds on prior ones; every new product iteration comes from listening to customers and using their feedback to make something they’d want to buy again. Product lifecycle management companies need to be quick and flexible to stay relevant in a fast-paced market.

7 Effective Ways to Bring Product Design and Management Teams to Work Together

When it comes to product design vs product management, they play a huge role in product lifecycle management (PLM) and product information management (PIM). These technologies are used to ensure that there are no inconsistencies within product design, development, and quality testing. This is done by ensuring that all products use the same source of information at all times.

Here are the seven ways product design and product management teams can work together more effectively.

1. Build a shared vision for your product

Product managers should sit down with designers at least once every now and then to discuss what they’re working on and how it fits into their overall vision for your product or service. They should also talk about any problems they think they’ll have when they try to reach these goals and what resources they’ll need to get over them.

2. Enhance communication between the two teams

Product managers should ensure that designers are aware of any obstacles they foresee in achieving their goals. They should also ensure that designers know what resources will be needed to get them over these hurdles. Product managers can create an action plan with a timeline and assign one or more team members to communicate progress regularly.

3. Create a common workflow for coordination

The product design and product management teams should create a workflow that they can use to communicate. This could be as simple as email or an online project management tool like Asana.

Product managers should make sure that designers are aware of how and when they should update them on progress, and designers should do their best to keep product managers in the loop about what’s going on with their work.

4. Use a shared repository of information to facilitate coordination

Product managers should use a common repository of information, like PLM technology, to ensure that product design and development teams work with an up-to-date set of product specifications.

This way, designers can be sure that they’re using accurate information when creating their designs. And if changes need to be made, product managers can do so quickly and easily without disrupting other departments or wasting time on unnecessary communication.

5. Hold regular meetings between product design and product management

Product managers should meet with members of their product design team regularly to discuss progress, obstacles, roadblocks, etc. The purpose of these meetings is not only to track progress but also to build relationships between product managers and designers. Product management is a people-oriented job; if you don’t have good relationships with your team members, it will be difficult for you to lead them effectively.

6. Align the teams on shared company goals

Product managers should ensure that designers know any objectives or other business-related activities that might affect their work.

For example, if your company moves into a new product line, designers need to know about it to adjust their design accordingly. Product managers should also ensure that designers know what resources will be needed to get them over these hurdles.

7. Build relationships between product design and product management

This is of the most important aspects of a successful PLM system. The people involved in product design and development need to trust each other and understand what each other does and how they can help each other succeed. That’s why it’s so important for product managers to build relationships with their designers.

Key Takeaways

● Product design focuses on how a product looks and feels to customers, while product management focuses on how it works and what it does for customers.

● Product design requires an understanding of aesthetics, usability, and user experience.

● Product management requires an understanding of technology, engineering, and project management skills.

● Product design and product information management must be considered as one for effective product management since they complement each other throughout the product lifecycle.


If you’re involved in product management or design, you might wonder how you differ from one another. Product information management (PIM) and product lifecycle management (PLM) are a way to bridge these differences.

By using them, your company can keep all product-related information in one database and easily access it when you need it. This allows designers and managers to work together seamlessly, leading to better products on time and on budget.


1. What’s the difference between product management and product design?

In short, product management takes a more macro view of a company and its products, while product design focuses on micro-level details. The two roles have different goals and require different skill sets, but they’re also inextricably linked.

2. How can product managers work effectively with product designers?

Product managers must understand their role and how it differs from a product designer’s. An excellent place to start is by understanding what each role entails.