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Product Designer vs. Product Manager: Similarities and Differences 3 Product Designer vs. Product Manager: Similarities and Differences
Review: 5 - Product Designer vs. Product Manager: Similarities and Differences

Let’s discuss the difference between product designers and product managers and their professional traits. Who are the specialists who understand design at a deep level, measure its effectiveness and impact on solving business problems, and are the product managers with different skills and areas of responsibility? For some reason, the duties of strong designers are often confused or tied to those of a product manager. Why is that so?

Product Designer vs. Product Manager: Similarities and Differences 17

What is product design?

‘Product design is the process designers use to blend user needs with business goals to help brands make consistently successful products.’ (Interaction design)

So, what do product designers do in product design within the area of their responsibility?

What product designers are doing?

A product design begins with custom research. Together with UX researchers or on their own, product designers learn about the main pain points of potential users, their motivations and learn about the context of work.

Next, they analyze the data obtained, create portraits of users, and try to understand whether the potential product will be interesting and useful for them at all (or update the existing one).

Product designers use a variety of research methods, study psychology to better understand people, and develop empathy & emotional intelligence; they are the main weapons in their arsenal. Empathy and confession of design thinking as a philosophy and agile methodology of problem-solving is the key to the successful work of product designers.

They also analyze the data obtained and together with the product managers often create documentation (such as Product Requirement Document), providing it with the necessary sketches, maps of user paths, mock-ups, user portraits, etc.

After that, the process of solution design goes to a prototype, collaboration with UX-writers and developers. Yes, product designers must also understand the principles of creating content in digital products and in no case use lorem ipsum and other black magic in their work.

Then there are various tests, their analysis, and changes. On-going checks and approvals with developers may also be in charge of designers. Of course, product designers do not write code, but they need to understand the frameworks and technologies used by developers to work quickly and efficiently.

Cooperation with the marketers and PR specialists at the stage of product promotion and supply of all necessary materials to promote or launch the product on the market may also be the responsibility of product designers.

What is product management?

Here’s how product management is defined by one of the industry leaders and our clients:

‘Product management is an organizational function that guides every step of a product’s lifecycle — from development to positioning and pricing — by focusing on the product and its customers first and foremost. To build the best possible product, product managers advocate for customers within the organization and make sure the voice of the market is heard and heeded.’(Atlassian)

What product designers are doing?

While product designers research users and their problems, PMs prioritize solutions and tasks for developers. Product designers work with other developers to solve these problems, and product managers organize the work itself.

Product managers act as business advocates and aim to organize the development process to achieve business goals.

Analysis of the market and competitive environment, creating a product development strategy based on user data, developing the necessary documentation and knowledge base, creating a roadmap, and most importantly – organizing the team, setting goals, and describing success criteria – all this is the direct responsibility of the product -managers.

The overlap

The main difference between product management vs product design a product designer and a product manager is that the former is the user’s advocate, he investigates their problems and generates solutions, and the latter organizes the development process in order to achieve business goals.

A great product comes out when the product manager and product designer work together at every stage.

Check out another overlap variant:

Product Designer vs. Product Manager: Similarities and Differences 18
Retreived from Medium

There is not always a separate product owner in the company; sometimes a product manager can play this role of the owner.

Unlike developers, UX writers, or testers, the areas of expertise and skills of product designers are much wider and are needed at every step of its development. This may give the false impression that product designers are interfering in the areas of responsibility of product managers. In fact, at certain stages, they can act as an auxiliary force, but not a substitute for PMs, because they are not involved in management and organization, and managers do not solve problems directly.

Job responsibilities

You may also compare the jobs that are to be done by designers, product managers, and other team members during the Business Process in terms of product design vs. product management and other problem solving:

Product Designer vs. Product Manager: Similarities and Differences 19
Source: Productfolio

For more insights on the working principle, research & experience of product manager vs product designer for your project or even more, feel free to contact us any time you have issues.

Conclusion

The task of a product designer and a product manager may overlap and, at the same time, differ greatly in terms of their project management duties.

While performing tasks on user interface & experience within the competence of the product manager, the designer may do two things: gain some skills that they may lack; remove some of the workloads from the product manager. This enables them to perform the tasks more efficiently. Of course, they may back up each other in most critical cases, apart from performing the developer’s role.

Solving various problems within one of the vectors described above may be a common challenge for product designers and product managers. And because they may switch between these vectors very often, they are flexible, which is another skill they have in common.

 

 


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