UI design and product design are often confused.
There is still no unambiguous, well-established definition of the profession of a product designer, so there are stereotypes that a product designer is the one who draws products. In fact, this is a multi-disciplinary specialist – he has broad skills and an understanding of the basics of a number of highly specialized professions: UX designer, graphic designer, researcher, analyst, prototyper, marketer, business strategist
In 1990-s many companies thought that beautiful UI is more than enough to make a software product successful.
After the 2000s, the item Product Designer was introduced. It appeared when there were not enough people who could take the 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.
Product designer functions 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 experienced in the 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 is not happening vertically, but horizontally.
Designers create a product that looks and feels as great as it functions
Product design process:
- A problem exists that is acknowledged by the company as a target
- The product designer analyzes the problem
- Since there can be several solutions, PD’s task is to analyze all possible cases and quickly draw concepts for solutions. We consider the possibility of creating a real design only hypothetically since usually, designers can limit themselves to sketches
- The sketches and prototypes are passed on to the UI designers for rendering. Oftentimes, product designers also do it on their own
- Implementation iteration: all interactions with the future app are interpreted and analyzed by the product designer
- The best solution is selected through analysis and testing for final implementation
Since we mention the product designer comes up with solutions for the problems, this is the process of finding a solution:
- Empathize. Learning about the people for whom the software is being developed. Speak to them, dive into their problems to understand their motivation and real goals. Is the problem being solved really important?
- Define. Make a clear definition of the problem that shows all the gathered insights on step 1.
- Ideate. Brainstorm with the whole team to come up with any ideas, even the most impossible ones. It is important to generate as many ideas as possible to understand the scope of the future project.
- Prototype. Drawing sketches, mockups, and implementing prototypes to analyze and investigate user interaction with the future product Very often, on this step some important details appear that were not clear before. Some screens might be conflicting, options missing, features breaking each other.
- Test. Show users the prototype, ask for their opinion and advice, and gather important insights.
A product designer is a person who must combine three basic roles. The first is the responsibility for the quality of the user experience. He must regularly receive feedback from users, conduct research on the current user footprint within the current digital product, and continually improve it. And also think about the improvements in demand, conduct research to study user demand.
The second major area of influence is orientation in the technological world in order to come up with optimal solutions to problems from a technical development point of view. It’s like an architect – on the one hand, there must be an aesthetic role, on the other, he must understand technology.
The third is the expertise related to the digital product business. He needs to understand the monetization model, strategy, understand the main metrics of the product viability. Each of his decisions should be dictated by the understanding of these metrics and be maximally focused on increasing them.