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The Difference Between Product Design and UX Design

Despite the fact that a product designer often is paid more than a ux designer, there is still no clear understanding of the product designer profession and its specifics.

Product Designer is a young profession that has been gaining popularity lately, shifting the focus from UX to thinking about business and product. 

Often designers mistakenly call themselves product designers, not working as them. Employers looking for a product are also doing the wrong thing when hiring UI / UX for the position of Product Designer. This is where the problems in terminology begin.

The simplest example. There is a product designer and there is a UI / UX designer. Both work on a social network for book lovers, a la Amazon’s Shelfari. The first and the second are tasked with creating a news feed on the main page of the service.

If you hire ux developers they will create a working prototype, fill the news feed with different types of content like “User A liked book X”, “User B started reading book Y”. Likes, comments, the “Share” button is a standard social network. The programmers and product manager will figure out how to fill the site. The trick is that there is no analysis of the decisions made, and the designer will operate with patterns that he has already seen on other sites.

The product designer will analyze the audience of the site and understand that, first of all, user A is interested in receiving new books according to his preferences. But the main thing is that this opinion should be confirmed by his acquaintances or influential people. Therefore, first of all, in the news feed, he will create a block with a selection of top books of the X genre.

User B never reads a book to the end. But Y starts book because he liked the motivating quote at the beginning. For him, the product designer will show in the news feed the most popular quote from book Z among users and the “Buy” button. The result is an increase in sales of books X and Z through the site, the appearance on the site of ad units and places for contextual advertising. That’s the difference.

Terminology 

After the 2000s, the item Product Designer was introduced. It appeared when there were not enough people who could take a problem, analyze it by manipulating statistics, metrics and issue the right leading questions about how this problem can be solved. It is a complex process that affects all areas of design, but on some the focus is shifted more.

The functions of a product designer are at the intersection of interaction design and research. They have little to do with user interface development. More analysis and solutions to specific problems. A product is a well-grounded person in theory, with more experience in marketing and research and less experience in user interface.

Ideally, a product designer touches a graphic editor to form a hypothesis. Everything else is not his job. But due to the wild popularity of the profession and, as a consequence, the desire of companies to develop products cheaper and faster, the line of product responsibilities is blurred and development does not occur vertically, but horizontally.

Process

  1. There is a problem and a supposed solution. 
  2. The product designer analyzes the problem. 
  3. Since there can be several solutions, his task is to analyze all possible cases and quickly draw concepts for solutions. We consider the possibility of creating a real design only hypothetically, although usually you can limit yourself to sketches. 
  4. Ideally, the prototype is passed to the UI designers for rendering. But it would be more honest to say that the person who made the concept should draw the design.
  5. This is followed by an implementation iteration, where all interactions are interpreted in the mindset of a product designer. 
  6. The best solution is selected through analysis and testing.

A product designer solves problems in a product. This is probably the best description of the profession. Follow https://fireart.studio/blog/product-design-vs-ux-design/ for more differences.

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Last modified: September 21, 2021

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