The terms “UX designer” and “product designer” are confusing for many people. They think that since each of them is a designer, then their scope of responsibility is similar and overlapping. But the reality check shows a difference between these two professions, and the overlap is not that significant. Thus, if you want to achieve a smooth and comprehensive coverage of all software development aspects, you may need both UX and product design skills in your team.
Some designers claim to have expertise both in UX and product design. Still, how can you know that they’re able to deliver impeccable services on all these fronts? Here is a quick guide on the difference between UX and product design work. It will help you understand user experience vs. product design. With this knowledge, you’ll be much better positioned to decide whether your specific project requires only one expert or both.
UX Designer Roles
The core focus of hiring user experience designer is to ensure that the developed product meets the user’s goals and makes users happy. UX designers create layout sketches in Figma or Sketch. They also conduct user research, examine user psychology, and develop user personas to find the best design approach. They are also tasked with usability testing and A/B testing of design variants to come up with the best option. Wireframing and UI design are in the UX designer’s scope of responsibilities as well.
A typical expectation from a UX designer is a focus on the user experience. They think of what users will feel when using the product and how they will achieve their goals. They develop clear UI and smooth UX based on that data to deliver the best user experience and cut the churn rate.
Besides, UX designers:
- Work on UX troubleshooting in existing products.
- Present workable design sketches to clients and other stakeholders.
- Collaborate with other development team members.
Product Designer Roles
The product designer’s position is higher in the project team’s hierarchy. This staff member oversees the work of UX designers and other design-related staff. They need to manage the entire project lifecycle and check the development roadmap from the beginning until the end. They also deal with problem-solving, project management, UI, and UX. Product designers may also get involved with the coding aspect of the project to check whether the code corresponds to the planned UI/UX logic.
A skilled product designer should:
- Have a firm grasp of the company’s business outcomes associated with a specific digital product.
- Apply strategic insight and analytical skills to communicate with the project’s team and external stakeholders about the design decisions.
- Have in-depth expertise in business and marketing, aligning the product design with revenue generation.
- Develop beautiful and simple designs in compliance with the customer’s needs and business vision.
- Arrange the work of engineers and product managers around a confirmed product design concept.
- Refine the product’s design based on user feedback and research data.
- Do regular design reviews and present the justification of choices to other stakeholders.
Who’s in Charge for What?
As you might see from the descriptions presented above, the product designer’s role is more comprehensive. These experts partake in all product development and design stages, aligning the UX design with broader business objectives. The UX designer’s role is narrower in scope, but it is still very significant. UX designers head the practical design process and provide tangible input in the form of visual design ideas. So, they fuel the project’s progression.
If one compares the roles of UX designers and product designers, it becomes clear that UX design work is more applied. UX specialists build the product’s design step by step, brick by brick, based on the concrete set of instructions. Product designers are architects in this process, strategizing and conceptualizing the entire approach. After that, they break down the concept into smaller, concrete chunks that serve as instructions for applied UX work afterward.
Pros and Cons of Having Only One Specialist
On the one hand, nothing prevents you from hiring a specialist with a universal set of skills covering product design and UX. Some companies encourage their UX designers’ broader participation in the business processes. Others urge product designers to do some practical UX research and development work. It all depends on the company’s policy and the availability of multi-skilled experts.
Pros of having one person doing all the design work in the company are as follows:
- You will need to pay a salary to only one person instead of two.
- One specialist will keep all design work consistent without the need to establish smooth teamwork and collaboration between staff members.
- A single specialist can connect UX with broader market trends due to a uniform perspective.
Yet, this decision comes with some cons you need to take into account, such as:
- Having only one person responsible for design can lead to biased decisions, harming the final product’s marketability and usability.
- It’s hard to find a jack of all trades on the labor market, and the salary of such experts may be too high.
- UX designers are usually more design-focused. So, involving only one expert for business and design processes can reduce the amount of effort and involvement dedicated to each task.
Thus, you can find a specialist with all the required skills and an extensive track record in design. Yet, make sure that the candidate is competent in marketing, strategic decision-making, research, and technical wireframing. Product design involves all these activities at various stages, so having a single specialist for these tasks is risky. A lack of time and resources impacts the product design quality.
Make Your Choice Wisely
As you can see, UX design and product design are different aspects of one design process. So, if you find an expert skilled at both, you are lucky. You can save costs and avoid cross-team friction in design processes and communication. However, don’t concentrate too much power in one employee’s hands. This sometimes leads to a biased perspective that hurts the product’s quality. Make the hiring choice based on your budget, expectations, and the availability of multi-skilled job candidates.