What Does a Design Manager Do?

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  • Written By: Nick Mann
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 29 March 2020
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The primary role of a design manager is to provide leadership for his team of designers throughout the course of a project. Along with this, he will often act as an intermediary between his client, business manager and designers. This type of career can lead to an individual working in numerous industries and on a multitude of projects.

For example, a design manager could lead a team of designers on the development of a product's brand, or manage an architectural firm while designing a new building. Even though the industries can differ considerably, the essential job duties are basically the same. These include identifying client project needs, communicating a project outline to his design staff, supervising staff members, providing assistance when necessary and monitoring budget.

Perhaps the most important part of being a design manager is effectively identifying his client's needs for each project. In order to deliver the best possible product, design or brand, he must first get a clear idea of what his client's exact specifications are. For example, if he was designing the packaging for a toy brand, he would need to find out information like what type of toy it is, whether it's for boys or girls, the size of the package and what colors to use. It's essential for a design manager to know this information before beginning any other stages of the design process.


Once he is certain of the client's specifications, a design manager must develop a project outline and communicate it with his design staff. During this phase, he will explain the client's requests to the other designers. After this, everyone will usually spend some time brainstorming in order to figure out the optimal approach.

Another integral part of his job includes supervising staff members. Since the design manager is the leader of the group, it's up to him to keep everyone on task and get the maximum effort from all designers. Throughout this process, he may divide the group into smaller units to work on different aspects of the project. He will also provide assistance when necessary if a staff member is experiencing difficulty. All the while, the design manager will usually keep both his client and business manager updated on the progress of the project.

In addition, the design manager must always be aware of his client's budget and make sure that he isn't exceeding it. Throughout the design process, he must keep an eye on expenses, including the design team's salaries and supplies. The design itself, whether of an advertisement, a product, or a facility, must also be able to be produced within the budget specified by the client.


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