If you’re in the digital product industry, you might have seen this job role called the “Product Designer” being thrown out a lot and most UX Designers that you knew, now call themselves product designers. So what exactly is a product designer, and how does one go from a UX designer to a product designer?
In short, the product designer takes up all the responsibilities of a traditional UX designer and in addition to that, they also have the skills to make sure that the product reaches it’s business goals as well.
Interaction Design defines it as:
“…the process designers use to blend user needs with business goals to help brands make consistently successful products”
The entire UX process + what happens after the release
A product designer is involved in the entire user-centered design process as well as how the product will perform in the market after release. This is not just usability-wise, but also business performance-wise.
That is, a well-designed product needs to delight the end-users as well as perform well in the current market.
When a client comes to you with a problem, they come to you with their product. The product that they came up with to make money. Every product is born with business goals and UX is just one major part that helps it achieve those goals.
No matter how great the usability of your product is, it’s irrelevant if it’s not a solution that people are looking for in the market.
What key product skills should designers have?
We talked a lot about building a product that would perform well in the market. Building something that the users will actually need and have space to grow.
It’s quite obvious that the best and only way to find a product’s potential is by researching the current market. By carrying out the right competitive analysis and market research, a product designer needs to be able to decide how the product will achieve its business goals and define a good business model.
Planning the entire process
The design process of agencies can differ from one another. We need to consider the practicality and also the nature of the project when deciding the design process to use.
This is one of the skills a product designer should have. They need to be able to decide which process to use to come up with the end product.
A UX Designer might have the responsibility of implementing the different stages of the process, but a product designer needs to be able to define the process as well as take part in it.
This can also include the organization of the development hand-over.
Product strategy is the process you use to make sure the design and development team is on course for achieving the business goals you came up with initially.
It is a roadmap that describes who will use the product, why they will use it, and what the business goals are for the company.
The user and market research of the product designer plays a big role in defining the problem statement.
This also involves market research and competitor analysis to help the designer come up with a concrete vision and goals for the project. A product designer’s role is to combine this information with the design process to release a product that has great usability as well as a demand in the market.
It’s better to know how to code
It’s true that product designers and UX designers will not be doing much of coding, or at all, in a typical day at the job. But it doesn’t stop hiring managers from looking for coding experience in your resume.
Even though you won’t be doing any of the coding, its important that you have a fair understanding of the development process so that you can have a concrete idea about the feasibility of a product.
Like we discussed earlier, the product designer should lay down the entire product process. This mostly includes the development approach as well. For instance, if you’re planning to develop a multi-platform app, you need to know what the best programming language is for the project.
Decisions like these need to be taken after considering factors like the product scope and the practicality.
Invision carried out a survey that showed 80% of hiring managers look for coding skills in a candidate. This doesn’t necessarily mean coding skills would add to your salary though.
The same survey showed that only 13% of the managers are willing to pay more for candidates with coding experience.
It’s a great time to be a product designer
Before wrapping up, I’d like to touch on the demand for product designers.
70% of companies that took part in Invision’s survey said they increased their design team’s headcount in the past year whereas only 7% of them decrease the number.
This shows a 21% increase in the expected job growth for 2020.
The average salary of a product designer also ranks at around $106,000 in the US. So evidently, it pays well too.
The demand for product designers are high, but so is the competitiveness. More designers from other areas are trying to explore this new field therefore getting into product design is not without its challenges.