Few problems fall solely into one design discipline’s skillset. The lines between them are blurry. For example, even a basic user interface problem has elements of communication design and experience design. Most designers are comfortable in more than just one area. Just like medical doctors, designers tend to go through some common training (like visual thinking for example), then they hone their skills further and specialize in certain areas over others.

Since you have selected Objects & Artifacts, then here is some further information on the design skillsets that may be needed in this category.

Industrial design or Product design most often focuses on a combination of aesthetics and user-focused considerations to provide tangible object-based solutions for problems of form, function, physical ergonomics, and sustainability. It is also considered as the creative act of determining and defining a product's form and features in advance of the physical act of making a product, which consists purely of repeated, often automated, replication.

User Interface (UI) or User Interaction design is about user interfaces for machines and software, such as computers, home appliances, mobile devices, and other electronic devices, with the focus on maximizing usability and the user experience. The goal of user interface design is to make the user’s interaction as simple and efficient as possible, in terms of accomplishing user goals.

Common outputs or deliverables

Tips and tricks

  • Most designers can be flexible and adapt their skills, however, it is still worth asking for examples where they have done this before.
  • When designing your investment you will want to ensure that your design partner has capabilities in these areas. However, perhaps not all these designers need to be fully present for the whole project, and you can work with your partner to ensure greater fluidity in the team.
  • The investment can benefit from thinking ahead of time about how a product(s) will be launched - who will use it, in what settings, what is the process into which the product will be introduced, the final cost of the project and anything that goes with it, etc.?


  • Beware of proposals that are overly repetitive in the use of buzzwords and lack specific examples that demonstrate the relevant skillsets from what you need.

Questions for potential partners

  • Can you talk me through the project steps and explain how you will make decisions around bringing in the right expertise at the appropriate times?
  • My understanding when designing a product is that getting to a deep understanding of the use case is really important. Can you share some examples of how you approach creating a use case?
  • You talk about your expertise in UI design. this is a new type of design for me. Can you explain it to me a bit and help me better understand how it comes into your work?
  • Do you have all these design capabilities in house, or will you need to in some specific types of expertise?

Resources and links