Just like humans, artificial intelligence (AI) can learn from past experiences, solve problems, understand natural language, and make decisions. That’s a huge leap for technology—and it’s transforming how many industries operate.
Product design is no exception. The impact of AI on the field is already significant.
If you’re working in product design (or aspire to), this may fill you with dread. What does the rise of AI mean for the day-to-day work of a product designer, and for the future of the industry as a whole? Are talented human designers still in demand, or will they gradually be replaced by machines?
Understandably, you’ve got questions—and we’ll do our best to answer them. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- How is AI impacting product design?
- The benefits of AI for product design
- How to use AI for product design
- Product design AI tools
- Key takeaways and final thoughts
Spoiler: AI is not about to steal your job. Let’s show you how you can use AI to your advantage.
1. How is AI impacting product design?
If you consider what AI is capable of, you can already begin to fathom its impact on the product design industry.
- automate repetitive tasks
- analyze vast amounts of data
- make predictions and decisions accordingly
- understand and generate human language (think chatbots and voice assistants)
- generate images, designs, 3D models, code snippets, and simulations
But what exactly does it mean for the product design industry?
Here’s how AI is impacting product design right now:
- AI is seeing widespread adoption within the product design industry
- AI is changing how certain tasks are carried out, but it isn’t replacing human product designers
- The biggest impact of AI on product design lies in optimization and efficiency
Let’s take a closer look.
AI adoption is high within the product design industry
Reporting on the state of AI in 2023, McKinsey found that one-third of survey respondents are working at an organization that uses generative AI regularly in at least one business function.
The most commonly reported uses of generative AI are in marketing and sales, product and service development (which includes product design), and service operations.
Within product and service development, the top uses for generative AI are:
- identifying trends in customer needs
- drafting technical documents
- creating new product designs
AI is assisting product designers, not replacing them
Product designers are leveraging AI to work faster and smarter. And, while AI is certainly transforming the nature of the work, it’s primarily being used to assist, optimize, and enhance—not to replace.
In the same McKinsey report, 35% of respondents working in product and/or service development said they expect little or no change to employee numbers as a result of generative AI. 20% of respondents actually expect employee numbers to increase.
You can think of AI as your incredibly smart, highly efficient assistant who is extremely capable—as long as you give them the right instructions and guidance, and know where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
The biggest impact of AI on product design is in optimization and efficiency
AI has a few major advantages. It can analyze large volumes of data at lightning speed—which means it can very quickly determine what your end users might want based on their past behavior. This unlocks a huge opportunity for product designers to create outstanding products and user experiences.
And, unlike humans, AI systems don’t experience boredom or fatigue—nor do they get distracted. They have an unwavering ability to perform repetitive, mundane tasks with consistency and precision over and over again. That’s a game-changer for speed and efficiency!
All in all, AI has great potential in the product design industry—both for product designers and the people they design for. So what exactly are the benefits? Let’s take a look.
2. The benefits of AI for product design
If you can successfully integrate AI into your product design workflow, it will help you to:
Boost your creativity
Creativity is human, and it’s not something that can be faked or replaced. However, it can be enhanced with the help of AI.
You can use AI to generate ideas, content, and even fully-fledged designs that push the boundaries of your own imagination—perhaps sparking new ideas or leading you in previously unexplored directions. In that sense, AI can be a great source of inspiration, innovation, and creativity.
Save time and money
AI can be used to streamline many different aspects of the product design process. It can automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks—freeing you up for more interesting work—and help you establish more efficient and agile workflows.
With realistic simulations and virtual testing environments, for example, you can dramatically reduce the time, effort, and resources required to test product prototypes.
Be more data-driven (which ultimately benefits the end user)
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: AI is an absolute whiz when it comes to analyzing vast amounts of data. For product designers, this enables data-driven decision-making like never before. You now have unprecedented insight into user behavior data, market trends, and design preferences—which means you’re incredibly well-equipped to meet your end users’ needs and design successful products.
Automate mundane tasks
Remember earlier when we talked about how AI systems don’t experience boredom or fatigue? Thanks to AI, you can automate those mind-numbingly repetitive tasks. This not only saves time; it should also make your job a whole lot more enjoyable. Fewer tedious tasks = more time and headspace for creative and strategic work. Count me in!
3. How to use AI for product design
There are countless opportunities to leverage AI throughout the product design process. With the right tools and know-how, you can use it for:
- User research
- Data collection and analysis
- Advanced product personalization
- Creating design deliverables
- Product testing
Let’s explore some concrete applications of AI in product design.
How to use AI for user research
User research is a crucial step in the product design process, and AI can serve as an excellent research assistant. With the right prompts, you can use tools like ChatGPT to generate research scripts, write interview and survey questions, craft effective problem statements, or come up with a step-by-step plan for different research methods.
Another powerful application of AI is sentiment analysis. AI algorithms can analyze user reviews, social media comments, and feedback to gain insight into users’ emotions, opinions, and experiences. This provides product designers with a rich and nuanced understanding of how users perceive a product, enabling you to keep track of your product’s success and continuously identify areas for improvement.
How to use AI for data collection and analysis
AI can supercharge your data collection and analysis efforts, empowering you to make truly data-driven design decisions.
Product designers can use AI-powered tools to automate the collection of relevant data, employ machine learning algorithms to identify patterns in user behavior, and apply predictive analytics to forecast design trends and anticipate how users might behave in the future.
AI can also generate meaningful data visualizations, enabling you to present complex data in a clear, understandable format and facilitate better decision-making.
How to use AI for advanced personalization
Data-driven product design goes hand-in-hand with advanced personalization. With vast amounts of data at your fingertips, you can create detailed user profiles and personas, apply AI-driven segmentation and clustering techniques to group users with similar characteristics and behaviors, and use those to create highly targeted personalization strategies.
This can include dynamic content which adapts in real-time based on the target user and their behaviors and preferences. Different users may be shown different versions of a product interface, for example, depending on what the AI deems to be most useful or relevant for the user in question.
How to use generative AI to create design deliverables
Generative AI refers to deep-learning models that can create new and original content (such as images or designs) based on what they’ve learned from examples and patterns. As you can imagine, generative AI is huge in product design!
Product designers can use generative AI to generate individual design elements, product layouts, wireframes, prototypes, and even entire design concepts. Depending on your desired output, you provide the AI tool with relevant input data (such as existing design assets or requirements), adjust parameters and settings to fine-tune the output, and generate various iterations until you’re happy with the result.
How to use AI for product testing
Product testing can be arduous and expensive—but less so with the help of AI. Product designers can use AI to simulate user behavior in order to perform early usability tests. The AI essentially mimics user behaviors and interactions, enabling you to evaluate the user experience, identify usability issues, and find areas for improvement—all without involving human participants.
Of course, AI should never replace real people in the product testing process, but it’s ideal for running preliminary tests and gaining early insights into your product’s performance.
4. Product design AI tools
Leveraging AI in product design requires specific tools. Many industry-standard product design tools now incorporate some form of AI, so you may already be using AI in your day-to-day work.
Some of the most popular AI tools for product design include:
- ChatGPT: a language-based model that’s been trained to generate human-like responses in a conversational format. Product designers can use ChatGPT to assist with user research, generate basic deliverables such as personas and user flows, and help with ideation (to name just a few possibilities!).
- DesignerGPT: a no-code website builder developed by OpenAI and accessible through the ChatGPT platform. With DesignerGPT, product designers can automate the process of creating and building websites.
- Uizard: an AI-powered design tool that can automatically generate product wireframes, mock-ups, and prototypes.
- Attention Insight: a powerful user testing tool that enables you to validate design concepts with AI-generated attention analytics.
- Adobe Sensei: Adobe’s AI and machine learning (ML) technology. Sensei is integrated into most Adobe programs, helping to automate repetitive tasks, enable generative design, and make smart design and content recommendations.
For more tools, check out this comprehensive round-up of the best software for product design.
Key takeaways and final thoughts
There’s no doubt about it: AI is transforming the product design industry. Product designers are increasingly using AI to streamline the product design process, enhance their creativity, and make data-driven decisions—all with the goal of delivering highly personalized products and user experiences.
The biggest impact of AI on product design lies in optimization and efficiency. It’s not about replacing product designers, but rather, augmenting their capabilities and empowering them to do their best work.
The bottom line? AI is here to stay, and the product design industry is embracing it. If you want to excel as a product designer, you’ll need to get to grips with AI and learn how to leverage it to deliver genuine end-user value.
Learn how to leverage AI in product design with the CareerFoundry Product Design Program
The CareerFoundry Product Design Program is designed to take you from beginner to job-ready in less than a year. You’ll learn with one-to-one guidance from industry mentors, build out your product design portfolio, and receive tailor-made career support along the way.
Importantly, the program includes expert learning materials, practical exercises, and best practices for AI—showing you how to use AI in a way that’s both ethical and reflective of real-world tasks.
Want to learn more about product design? Check out these posts:
- Is Product Design a Good Career? 10 Reasons Why You’ll Want To Consider It
- The Top 12 Product Designer Skills You’ll Need To Get Hired
- How Much Do Product Designers Earn? Your 2024 Salary Guide