What is a Product Designer? Solving the Mystery

  • Product Design
  • 4 March
  • 6 min read

Anyone who’s occupied in the web industry probably struggles with having to explain his job to people who’re not so tech-savvy.

You know, when someone from your older relatives comes and you have to explain the complexities of being a product designer but instead you just say – “I draw stuff on a computer.”

But this doesn’t really get the message across quite accurately, does it?

And as it turns out, there are quite a lot of names for the position of a product designer. These include elaborate titles such as interaction designer, experience architect, user interface designer, user experience designer, experience designer and, our all-time favorite – information architect.

The truth is that a Product Designer can be responsible for all or for just some of the above because there is a definitive overlap in responsibility.

At its core, however, a product designer is a problem solver. He’s supposed to be well-versed in a range of design facets and that’s something to think about.

Having said that, let’s look at some of the key points of the matter.

 

Product Design Artifacts/Deliverables

 

If you want to best define what a certain position is responsible for, you’d obviously have to look at what the expected deliverables are.

You can think of artifacts as the conglomeration of the product designer’s work and efforts. In this case, these can include the following:

Wireframes

You can think of wireframes as low-fidelity mock-ups which are used to quickly draft certain solutions for testing. They usually serve as blueprints for the high-fidelity designs that we’ll come to later.

Wireframes are oftentimes drafted using nothing but pen and pencils on paper and they are great for putting down and generating ideas – that’s mainly because they are a low-budget solution. This allows you to scrap bad ideas quickly without any additional costs.

Journey Maps

Journey maps are awesome. Especially if you like storytelling. Journey maps are basically an exercise in telling your user a story as he progresses through a specific task.

However, a great journey map would also document the triggers as well as the motivators. They would also track the post-experience in order to tell the complete story of your user’s journey.

Prototypes

Mock-ups. Product designers live for this moment. These are the mock-ups created with the sole purpose of being tested. They can be different when it comes to their fidelity – from basic paper designs to simulated and clickable ones.

The main goal here is to test your solution through a series of carefully moderated sessions in order to gather user feedback.

High-Fidelity Designs

Final mock-ups. That’s when you see your baby come to life. After you’ve vetted the solution through your user and you’ve carefully gone through the prototyping, you’re ready to begin the high-fidelity design.

This one should resemble your final product as much as it’s possible – when it is coded and implemented. These designs will be serving as the blueprint as well as the guidance for your development team.

 

What are the Types of Product Design?

Naturally, there are many types of product design but we can sum them up in three separate categories. These are:

System Design

Let’s have a simple grocery store as an example of a system design. The grocery store is just one of many solutions which are built on the model of exchanging fiat currency for goods.

This is a system which, in its essence, provides value by offering your users with a broad selection of products in exchange for a pre-determined amount of money.

But here comes the catch. You know how when you’re in a larger grocery store, each aisle has its own designation? For instance, there’s an alcohol aisle, a milk aisle, meat aisle, and so forth. That’s what designers like to refer to as information architecture. It’s applicable in each product, regardless of what it is.

The information architecture is centered around user experience and it aims to properly

Process Design

Following up on the previous example with the grocery store, process design entails the crafting of different functionalities within the store itself. For example – where do you pay?

There are plenty of different ways to go about the check-out process. You can do a traditional cashier process or you can go for a more contemporary self-serve like they have it in Tesco, for instance.

Interface Design

For interface design, we’ll break the storyline with the grocery store. Why? Well, because it’s easier to use other examples.

Imagine you have to design an application. One of the most important things to consider is the user interface (UI). What you want to do when it comes to UI design is to be perfectly aware of the basics. There are certain pillars of user interface design that anyone should consider, even if they are not applicable in all situations.

 

What’s the Typical Day of a Product Designer?

Now that we’ve gone through the majority of the important things, let’s look at what your day will usually look like if you decide to embark on the adventure of being a product designer.

Here are a few things you’ll probably be doing on a daily basis:

  • Research problems of your users
  • Design and prototype
  • Design some more
  • Test products with your users
  • Launch products
  • Measure the performance of products
  • Make corrections

These are just a few of the things to consider. Of course, different companies have different needs and as such, it’s entirely possible to be occupied with other things.

 

Conclusion

Being a product designer is definitely a very enticing and exciting occupation if you are the creative type.

If you like building stuff from nothing, that’s something you’re likely to enjoy. Of course, there are a lot of technicalities which some consider annoying, but still, it’s one of the more versatile professions in the web space.

 

 

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