No one employee can specialize in every type of task needed for a project. That’s why a graphic designer, an interface designer, and a web designer are different roles that require different tasks and competencies. Relatively recently, companies began to look for product designers. What should this specialist be able to do, and why is it worth training in this profession?
What Is Product Design?
Product design is product development done with a business perspective in mind. This means that there are many business constraints from different areas of the operation—such as sales and technology—that simultaneously make the design user-centric and business-centric.
Product design is the process of creating a product that offers a solution to a problem in a particular market. Successful product design meets both business and user needs. It includes digital media, experience design, and physical products.
The fundamentals of product design originate from the ideology of design thinking. It was designed as a customer-centric way to integrate real users' needs into technology and business requirements. This allowed companies to solve complex problems.
The product being designed should have three main qualities:
- It performs work for the user—that is, it helps them solve some of their problems, such as the need to order a taxi or entertain oneself
- The product develops and transforms, constantly going through cycles of improvements during which its functions and design change
- It has a financial component, meaning its creators can earn money on it
The design-thinking process is often used in product design. It consists of five steps that meet the needs of the user:
- Put yourself in the client's shoes. To design with the user in mind, product designers first research to find out their target audience.
- State the problem. Based on the needs and opinions of the study participants, the designer will be able to define the problem clearly.
- Generate new ideas. Product designers and their teams analyze a wide range of potential creative ideas before proceeding to develop the right solution to a formulated problem.
- Create prototypes. The concept that was chosen during the ideation phase will be formalized as a prototype (or multiple prototypes) for testing purposes. Prototypes help designers see tangible evidence that they are moving in the right direction. In addition, they contribute to the emergence of new ideas that may not have been seen before.
- Conduct testing. Designers reach out to users to make sure their designs work the way they intended. Designers then return the information received to the concept formation stage in order to improve their product to such a state until it becomes perfect.
What Does a Product Designer Do?
The product designer is responsible for the product's user experience and business goals. They apply design thinking to come up with and create a solution that will meet the needs of users and businesses.
Product design is not always about beauty and convenience. Instead, it’s about helping people solve their problems. Positive emotions from a cool interface will quickly dissolve if users realize that the product is ultimately useless. The development team must make sure that people are involved in getting to know the digital project and that they do not lose touch with it.
Some key tasks of product designers include:
Giving users the perfect solution
Product design establishes a connection between the product and the target audience. Specialists look at the project through the eyes of people and try to understand how to build the mechanisms of work for maximum convenience. The designer must be able to abstract, discard their own preferences, and put themselves in the shoes of the client. It is impossible to be successful in making decisions based on personal convictions alone; instead, you must constantly interact with the team and consult with representatives of the target audience.
Connecting with people
After the user has given the application or site a chance, the designer must confirm that it met their expectations. Relations with the target audience are influenced by the quality of the project, the approach to working with the audience, and the general concept of promotion. If the application does not perform the tasks that people need it to, it won’t be successful.
Getting to know their target audience better
A product designer usually interacts with users and tries to make them even more involved in the lifecycle of the project. Ideally, people should use the product on a consistent basis and should trust the company as well.
When working on a product in any niche, problems and obstacles will inevitably arise. To get from the first working version to the finished project, which will be used by customers, there will almost always be setbacks. The team must identify good and bad decisions, correct mistakes, and continue working toward a positive result.
Looking for ideas
Every project starts with an idea. It is very important to prioritize correctly and not go beyond the original concept. If you need to develop an application for ordering a taxi, for example, you should not add functions to it that are not related to solving the problem. Users need the ability to leave reviews for drivers, but ordering food for a trip is not so important.
Data collection provides valuable information that allows you to draw a conclusion about the prospects of the project. It’s important to do, even if you have confidence that the results will be positive. Many products turn out to be useless for people, and companies then lose profits. It helps to protect against such problems by analyzing the preferences of the target audience and determining the problems that people can solve with the help of the product.
This process helps designers identify the key characteristics of the product and notice critical problems before release. If errors are discovered after release, the team, the company, and the target audience all suffer. The first failed to complete their tasks, the second invested money in vain, and the third wasted time.
Every project is created for a specific audience, and no one except its real, intended users can provide the most useful information on how well it works to solve their problem. Analyzing feedback received from real users is crucial for a successful product.
Organizing product releases
After implementing the above important steps and working with users at each stage, it’s time to release the product to the public. This is the logical conclusion of a long development process, when the efforts of the designer and their team come to fruition.
In general, the product designer is responsible for the product. They monitor whether it solves the problem in question, whether the product is cost-effective and functional, and how satisfied the stakeholders are with the result.
What Skills Should a Product Designer Have?
The focus of a product designer is not on how the interface will look, but on how to create a successful user experience—that is, UX design. Their key task is to help ensure that the business is successful and the users are happy.
That means a product designer is like a director: They can create anything within the budget in order to achieve the desired result. As a product designer, you will be required to have a few basic product design skills, no matter where you work. These include the ability to:
- Design products for iOS, Android, MacOS, and web and take into account all the technical features of these platforms
- Create a visual language of products that involves finding a product style, applying it, and scaling it
- Test design solutions, which involves learning how to conduct interviews, collect basic prototypes in Figma, and work with qualitative research data
- Form hypotheses based on user research and analytics
- Work with Figma, Adobe, Sketch, etc., which you can learn to do through online tutorials
- Animate and assemble prototypes using tools like After Effects and Principle, work with JSON animation, and be able to transfer animation to development, which you can learn in Careerist’s UX Design training
- Master design management, which includes project management and the ability to adjust processes in the design team
What Are the Typical Tasks That a Product Designer Would Be Required To Do?
Product designers perform activities that are a lot like the design-thinking process, which includes several stages:
- Data collection and audience analysis
- Designing and prototyping
- Testing with users
- Analysis of feedback from test participants
- Launching the product
- Evaluating and making adjustments to the product
- Solving problems associated with product design and development
Product design is the process of creating products (digital tools, experiences, and physical goods) that solve user problems and help businesses achieve their goals. The product designer leads the process of creating these. In doing so, they apply design thinking, clear communication, and problem-solving skills and use certain software tools.
To be successful, a product designer must have design experience and excellent business acumen. That’s why it can be a great position for those with UX design skills who want to take more responsibility in the product development process. To learn UX design, learn more about Careerist training in this field.