Product Designer VS UX Designer

Product Designer VS UX Designer: Design Roles of Product Design and UX Design

Every brand and company requires designers to flourish. When it comes to initiating ideas for products and their implementation, designers play an influential and significant role. However, the crux lies in the fact that there are different designer roles one could fill. A graphic designer, a product designer, or even a UX designer. What often confuses people is the distinction between these design roles, particularly concerning product designers and user experience designers. People often mistakenly believe they are the same and use the terms interchangeably. While their roles may seem similar, they possess different skill sets and responsibilities.

In this article, we will be discussing,

  • Product designer vs UX designer
  • Their Differences and Similarities
  • Skills  and Salary Expectations

So, in this article, I have made quite a comparison of both roles for brands and businesses alike and for people planning to pursue their careers in product or UX design.

What are Product Design and UX Design Roles?

What are Product Design and UX Design Roles?

The comparison between product design and UX design roles is often a topic of discussion. While on paper, both product and UX designers may appear to have similar job roles, in practice, the two positions are often interchangeable, with product designers frequently undertaking the responsibilities of UX designers and vice versa. To alleviate confusion, let’s delve into individual descriptions of what each role entails.

UX Designer

A User Experience (UX) designer primarily focuses on user satisfaction, ensuring that the product effectively meets users’ needs. The main goal of this designer is to create products with usability, accessibility, and interaction in mind, seeking ways to enhance them. This entails enhancing overall user satisfaction by crafting products that offer seamless and meaningful experiences. UX designers adopt a client or user-centric perspective to shape how users perceive the product. By adopting such a mindset, they become inherently people-driven, with the responsibility to optimize the product for the best possible user experience. The designer would create a user-centered design work, and UX designers focus on the overall digital products that offer design solutions.

Product Designer

Product design has existed for quite some time compared to the concept of UX design. As a “jack of all trades,” a product designer engages in various aspects of the product lifecycle, starting from its inception to product development. They are involved in project management, coding, and problem-solving, aiming to create solutions that are useful, cost-effective, and functional, ensuring longevity. Product designers often lead a team in generating ideas for new products. Interestingly, the concept of product design is said to have evolved from industrial design. Similar to UX designers, product designers that work for product development companies need to comprehend the true needs of users and translate them into appealing and functional designs to bring those ideas into reality.

Product Designer vs UX Designer: Similarities

 Product Designer      UX Designer
Product designers are generally involved in the entire design process of a product, including brainstorming, UX, project management, and business-related processes.

 

UX designers place the user at the center of the design process and, as I said, only care about the needs and expectations of the users.
Product designers are the guardians of a product, and they ideate and sketch design concepts to create a final product. UX designers can be called users’ advocates because they care about user’s experience with products.
Product designers focus on conducting a lot of research and developing prototypes to refine designs based on feedback. UX designers are responsible for the user interface layout and navigation.
Collaborate with developers, project managers, and UX designers. Collaborate with UI designers, UX researchers, developers, and product managers to create a seamless user experience.

Now, from the above information, you can see the obvious commonalities of the roles. Both roles heavily involve the design thinking process and prioritize user needs and experiences. This human-centered approach is the main aspect of both their jobs. At the same time, both have to conduct extensive research while also gathering feedback on their work. Both designers use similar tools in their design processes, design tools such as wireframes like Balsamiq and Figma. There are also similarities in the use of mapping software like Lucidchart and Overflow in their design system.

Difference Between the Roles

Difference Between the Roles

As of now, we know that both the roles of UX designer and product designer use the same methods and tools to create products that satisfy and meet the needs. Now, the big question remains, the point of this blog: what are the major differences between these two significant roles important to a company?

There is a unique focus that differentiates both of them. Let’s look at how different both roles are in terms of focus, responsibilities, skill set, outcome, and collaboration.

Let’s look at the difference between a product designer and a UX designer:

In terms of focus, a product designer is a bit more broad and holistic. Their entirety of work involves the initiation of a product from concept to making it a reality.

However, when it comes to UX designers, their focus is only after the product reaches the users, solely based on the experience and user interface while using the product.

In terms of responsibilities, a product designer has the role of conceptualization, design, and refinement of the product, while also from a business-oriented perspective. Here, designers must be aware of the priorities from the business side and manifest in working more closely with the business team. So, while the finished product is their goal, ensuring business needs are met is also considered a responsibility from a product designer’s perspective.

However, the difference between UX designers in terms of responsibilities includes researching detailed user expectations and designing to meet them. Here, they really don’t focus on business needs, but here, UX designers conduct usability tests to optimize the overall effect. They also don’t have to work closely with the business team.

Skillset is very important to fully take on a role when it comes to any type of job. So, the skill set required to become a product designer includes design thinking, market and user research, imagination, interaction design, visual design, and graphic design.

UX designers’ skillset must include user research, wireframing, prototyping, usability testing, and understanding basic human-computer interaction.

In terms of the final outcome, product designers make products that are positive for both business and user needs. The product should satisfy the expectations of both the business and users, while it acts as a solution to certain problems of the users.

Now, when it comes to user experience design, the final outcome is all about an efficient and effective user experience when interacting with the product.

The leadership role tends to be given to product designers. Here, they are tasked to captain UX and visual designers, research, and product teams together, so being a UX designer, there are fewer chances for you to lead a team or lead product designers. I think this is because of the extended experience of product designers that brands place them in a position like this. It also has to do with the whole process and how product designers tend to overlook every single detail and aspect of production.

Skills Required for Product Designers and UX Designers

Skills required for product design vs UX design

If you’re clueless about the job description of both of these roles, you might think the only priority skill they require is design skills. But obviously, you’re wrong. There are different sets of skills required to be a UX and product designer in this competitive field. You can see that knowledge in business is a priority and is required in the product design aspect, and the priority of focusing on users in the UX design aspect is also important. Now, let’s look into the different skill sets of both these roles in detail.

Skills needed for product design

Product designers require a diverse skill set that encompasses both technical proficiency and creative innovation. The foundational requirement often includes a relevant undergraduate degree, providing the necessary theoretical grounding for the role. It’s also important to note that several years of professional experience in UX/UI design are typically asked for. This means the designer has a practical understanding of user-centric design principles. Proficiency in industry-standard design and prototyping tools like Figma is necessary for conceptualizing ideas into tangible solutions and throughout the design process. Other skills include design thinking and the importance of empathy, ideation, and iteration throughout the project lifecycle. If the designer also has experience working on complex projects, it helps to gain an upper hand in this field. Additionally, adaptability, problem-solving skills, effective partnership skills, and strong communication skills are considered crucial for articulating ideas and being successful as a full-time product designer.

Skills needed for UX Design.

UX designers are the wizards of enhancing the user experience of a product, so it’s known they require a wide skill set. Importantly, proficiency in industry design and prototyping tools such as Figma is required. A basic undergraduate degree is also needed to be considered for a UX design job role. Here, they should excel in extracting valuable insights, conducting comprehensive user research, and competitor analysis. Many UX designers have prototyping and wireframing skills that allow them to visualize and validate design concepts efficiently. UX designers combine creativity, analytical rigor, and empathy to create compelling digital experiences and user-friendly products that delight users and drive business success. A career in UX design is a promising field for many upcoming talents.

Expected Salary Compensation

Expected Salary Compensation

The average salary for a product designer in the U.S. is $120,661, typically higher than that of a UX designer. However, salaries for both roles can vary depending on factors such as years of experience and location.

Depending on the number of years of experience in the product design sector, professionals can typically earn between $50k-$128k in the United States. On average, a product manager earns around $127,550 per year.

Salaries for user experience designers can vary based on location, industry, and years of experience. According to Glassdoor’s salary data, junior UX designers earn an average of $50k-$75k annually in the United States, while designers with more than ten years of experience can make close to $185,000 a year.

Product Designer Vs. UX Designer: Making a Final Decision

Product Designer vs UX Designer

By now, you have gained an understanding that although the job descriptions are different, UX  and product design are codependent and can be interchanged according to situations. But which one best suits you? Before making a decision, it’s advised to gain practical experience in UX design before jumping into product design. Moreover, it’s important to indulge in online courses or participate in design challenges to get a feel for each role. You can also gain a better understanding by communicating with professionals already established in the field through meetups or attending seminars. This can help you make an informed decision based on what satisfies you the most in this field. Whichever path you choose, remember that becoming a UX designer and product designer can be very exciting. It’s a promising field that holds the potential to shape the future of our world.

Takeaway

For people navigating the design landscape, it’s crucial to understand the differences between product designers and UX designers. While product designers oversee the entirety of a product’s development, from conception to market, UX designers specialize in optimizing the user experience for maximum usability and satisfaction. The design industry is very promising for individuals who want to explore and sharpen their design skill set. When considering a career path, it’s important to prioritize reflecting on personal interests, skills, and long-term goals to finally choose which one suits you best. I hope this article helped you understand the similarities, differences, and aspects related to both product design and UX design. You can also read about,

FAQ

Is product designer the same as UX designer?

Product designers and UX designers have distinct roles within product development. Product designers focus on conceptualization, design, and alignment with business objectives, collaborating closely with the business team. In contrast, UX designers specialize in understanding user expectations, conducting usability tests, and refining designs for optimal user experience without direct involvement in business priorities.

Who gets paid more product designer or UX designer?

Product designers generally earn around $120,661 on average, which tends to be higher than the typical salary for UX designers. However, the pay for both positions can fluctuate based on factors like experience level and geographic location.

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