Tech companies are recruiting for several digital skills and on top of the list are Product design and UX design. Product design and UX design are two skillsets that are similar and most times used interchangeably by individuals who want to learn new skills in the digital world.
Even experienced tech professionals also find it difficult to distinguish the two while some tech companies use the two skill terms interchangeably.
So, what exactly is the difference between Product Design and UX Design?
In this concise expository article, you will understand:
- the basic concept of UX design and Product design
- the similarities between UX design and Product design
- the differences between UX design and Product Design
During the course of reading this post, you will be clarified on which of the two (if not both) will suit you most and the confusion of which to learn will be erased.
What is Product Design and UX design?
User experience (UX) design is the process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This simply means creating a design process that put the users into mind when creating a product. The goal of UX design in business according to a study from the Oxford Journal Interacting with Computers is to “improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”
A UX designer thinks about how the experience makes the user feel, and how easy it is for the user to achieve their predetermined tasks using the product. Basically, UX designers focus on user interaction, user satisfaction, and ensuring that the product fulfills exactly the user’s needs in the easiest way.
On the other hand, Product Design is an in-depth approach to building a new product from start to finish. It is the process of conceptualizing a product, the functions of the product as well as the user experience. Product design evolves around the needs of the business and the consumer.
A product designer must take into consideration not only the wants and needs of customers but also the business challenges, product functionality, relevancy and cost implications. We can simply put it that a product designer is a multidisciplinary solution provider for a business problem.
Critical observation of the basic concept of UX design and that of product design you will observe that they both have some similarities. So, what do they have in common?
Major Similarities between UX design and Product Design
Frankly, product designers and UX designers do very similar jobs; which is why most times the two roles are used interchangeably.
From the explanation above you can easily infer that both product design and UX design are two important disciplines and processes that a business must seriously consider before creating a product for the market. Asides the fact that product designers and UX designers are essential in business problem solving, they both take into cognizance users’ wants and interaction with the product. Also, most tools used by both UX designers and product designers during the design process are most times the same.
Now that we’ve understood the basic concept and also identified the similarities between product design and UX design, let’s point out the differences.
Main Differences between UX design and Product design
Although product design and UX design are similar in some aspects, they do have a few differences in their job specifications.
While UX design’s main objective is to design an appealing product that will give customers an awesome experience that makes them come back for more, Product design cut across an all-encompassing objective for both the customers and the business. Product design objective includes but not limited to; research about who the target customers are and how they use the product, easier way to design the product, appealing design for the product, the cost-effectiveness of the product, and market value of the business.
A UX designer identifies the problems of a product, and a product designer will propose solutions. A product designer is more focused on the simplicity of the process, the business, cost-effectiveness, and the brand while a UX designer’s focus is all on the usability of the product.
Remember, companies do use the two roles interchangeably so when applying for a job as a product designer or a UX designer, do check the job responsibilities so you are certain of the organization’s needs. Below are samples of the responsibilities of both UX designers and Product designers from two different companies.
PRODUCT DESIGNER RESPONSIBILITIES
- Create thoughtful and appropriate solutions to design challenges of all sizes by translating research insights into beautiful and engaging user interfaces that satisfy user needs, business requirements, and technical constraints.
- Work in the product team and collaborate with the Product Manager, stakeholders, and engineers in an iterative, transparent, and feedback-driven process.
- Produce engaging experiences using sketches, storyboards, information architecture blueprints, and prototypes to collect feedback and iteratively improve and support the design process.
- Translate wireframes and experiences into highly-polished visual composites with attention to interaction design whilst following style and brand guidelines.
- Collaborate cross-functionally with product management, engineering, and user research to ensure a smooth, data-driven product development process
- Design and prototype elegant and highly useful flows and experiences across multiple media
- Create user flows, wireframes, site maps, customer journey maps, and other tools to guide the product development process.
- Collaborate with product managers and engineers to conceptualize, document, design, and develop new product concepts.
- Create high-fidelity mockups and work with engineers and product managers to oversee UI design implementation, while also serving as an advocate for design in strategic product decisions.
- Develop comprehensive annotated design specifications and functional documentation for our engineering team.
- Work with the engineering team to help develop UI pattern toolkits.
UX DESIGNER RESPONSIBILITIES
- Gather and evaluate user requirements in collaboration with product managers and engineers
- Illustrate design ideas using storyboards, process flows and sitemaps
- Design graphics user interface elements, like menus, tabs, and widgets
- Build page navigation buttons and search fields
- Develop UI mockups and prototypes that clearly illustrate how sites function and look like
- Create original graphic designs (e.g. images, sketches, and tables)
- Prepare and present rough drafts to internal teams and key stakeholders
- Identify and troubleshoot UX problems (e.g. responsiveness)
- Conduct layout adjustments based on user feedback
- Adhere to style standards on fonts, colors, and images
For more insights and reading about various specializations in design disciplines, check out our other posts on:
- Tools needed for UX Design and Product Design
- How to become a Professional UX designer?
- What does a Product Designer really do?
- 5 ways to make extra income as a Graphic Designer