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What does a Product Designer do?

over 5 years ago from , Product Designer @ Dribbble / Maker

I've seen a lot of new job postings for a "Product Designer" and find myself intrigued to uncover what that role specifically entails.

Is it design? Is in management? Is it research? Does everyone define the role in the same manner?

Anyone have thoughts on this OR if you are a product designer can you elaborate on your day-to-day tasks?

Cheers,

39 comments

  • pjotr .pjotr ., over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    It's a bit of everything.

    I help to define:

    • The experience and interface of our products
    • The brand and marketing strategy around those products

    What I'm actually doing:

    • Wireframing
    • Coding/Prototyping
    • Creating styleguides and patterns
    • Conceptualizing product definitions and naming conventions
    • Building requirements documentation with other engineers and designers
    • Manning support and helping fill tickets to better understand our customers from the front-lines
    • Any number of other things to help tie up loose ends on the design side
    45 points
    • Sam Pierce LollaSam Pierce Lolla, over 5 years ago

      Cheers, great summary.

      Keep in mind that a "product designer" is probably in a design leadership role. That is, it's not enough to do a lot of different kinds of design... it's more about "kicking off" the high-level design and then helping other designers' work fit together into a cohesive whole.

      5 points
  • Joshua HynesJoshua Hynes, over 5 years ago

    The term "Product Designer" IMO is still kind of being defined within the industry. Within tech / startup industry, typically it seems to refer to a person who is able to holistically approach design, unifying it across it's varying levels (workflow, experience, interaction, visual) to provide a seamless product. Someone who is able to see the forest and the trees together. They guide and shepherd the overall visual and experience design of a product.

    In my role at Stack Exchange, that's largely what I do. I do some visual design work and front-end development; but my main concern is understanding how can we create a more cohesive experience for our different users. It means a lot of sketching, workflow mapping, understanding the vast number of use cases, content strategy, wireframing, prototyping, and some visual design.

    13 points
  • Joshua SöhnJoshua Söhn, over 5 years ago

    He designs products

    13 points
  • Rafael CondeRafael Conde, over 5 years ago

    Well, I would say a Product Designer for the whole design experience of the product, UI, UX, branding, copy etc... You will be doing a little of everything.

    Again, that's just my opinion, I don't have facts to back this up ;)

    4 points
  • Jim SilvermanJim Silverman, over 5 years ago

    "product designer" is a good title if you want to be vague about what you do to subtly imply that you do everything.

    4 points
    • Allan YuAllan Yu, over 5 years ago

      This is a very naive comment.

      16 points
      • Jim SilvermanJim Silverman, over 5 years ago

        the fact that this thread exists means it's a shit vague title.

        the implication is that you "design" an entire "product" but very rarely is that true of today's "product designers." especially in a world where software "design" can include information architecture, ux research and testing, visual design, front-end coding, back-end coding, ideation, product management, branding, etc.

        further, it does not infer a medium. for all i know, a "product designer" could be designing can openers. it's equivalent to saying you're an "engineer." oh, so you drive a train? you build bridges? develop software. i was way off!

        4 points
    • Nick WuNick Wu, over 5 years ago

      it's such a weird trend. anyone with UX in their title seemingly wants to do the same.

      1 point
  • Sjors TimmerSjors Timmer, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    Cennydd Bowles (design lead at Twitter) wrote a long blog post a few years ago on his switch from UX designer to (digital) product designer: http://www.cennydd.co.uk/2012/my-life-as-a-unicorn

    Interesting enough at the same time as digital product designer also service designer as a title has grown in strength

    3 points
  • Chris GillisChris Gillis, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    I think of a Product Designer as someone who is involved in the day to day UI/UX design of product(s) within their company. Mostly working on Applications, Mobile and Web. Sometimes can be a UX or UI design team of 1.

    A Product Manager is someone who oversees the entire product - more of a manager of the process/design/build.

    3 points
  • Sean GeraghtySean Geraghty, over 5 years ago

    Well in the UK we take Product Design, to be what Americans and other countries would refer to as Industrial Design. I am a product design student in the UK and we would normally look at how products are made and how we can improve them. Or we are given a new topic and we start to work on that. In terms of product design as its normally referred to in the US, Product Designers would look at the UI as far as I am aware, please correct me if I am wrong. So they would check that everything fits together and work on applications for both the web and mobile.

    2 points
    • Jenny G.Jenny G., over 5 years ago

      Well the same applies for Germany. I also studied Product/Industrial Design where we were strongly focussing on 3D design which also includes modeling, rendering, sketching and research and concepts. So the field of study starts with a general "problem" and process and solution of solving this problem. I also sometimes call it innovator studies. For quite a while now this field of study also implies interface design. As others already mentioned the product designer is focussing on the whole product from the beginning to end. Therefor a product designer can also be called a product owner. I still find it quite confusing though because I still think of a product designer as someone who deals with 3D products and not virtual ones, but as the borders between that fade I can understand the description in this context.

      0 points
      • Sean GeraghtySean Geraghty, 5 years ago

        Completely agree about its confusion thats why my Dissertation will be loosely based on this topic which is why I was hoping my bit was right :)

        0 points
  • Nic TrentNic Trent, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    .

    2 points
  • Aaron NgAaron Ng, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    My understanding:

    Product Designers do design work holistically across a product-- that means potentially working on visuals, interaction, product and maybe even a bit of code. You essentially craft products.

    Imagine designing a physical product in a workshop:

    You'll be juggling industrial design and mechanical engineering problems along with working and feeling with your hands. You'll conceptualize, sketch, sand, mold, polish and iterate. It's all one thing: you're designing a product.

    As a product designer you aren't necessarily responsible for one aspect (visuals, interaction, etc) but rather the product as a whole.

    2 points
  • Erica Louise, 3 years ago

    Looking for the exact answer of who really is a product designer I wrote this https://blog.zipboard.co/who-really-is-a-product-designer-2f2cd1bb8db2#.s1p3w37mf

    1 point
  • Carl FaircloughCarl Fairclough, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    Are you in a position to direct every single aspect of a product? If the answer is yes, you're a product designer.

    1 point
  • Suganth SSuganth S, over 5 years ago

    https://medium.com/minimum-viable-product/9709572cb3ff

    1 point
  • Andy Leverenz, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    Thanks everyone for the feedback. My general consensus is that there isn't really a defined answer to this question which is unfortunate. I agree with most everyone who said that it would certainly vary depending on the employer but I'm also wondering if the employer knows what a product designer is when posting a job ad. Are they looking for a designer? A jack of all trades? That's what drove me to my question from the start. It's all so unclear and everyone's opinion is different.

    For example. Think of the title Web Designer. Right away you already know for the most part what that employee should be capable of doing/knowing.

    I think the title "Product Designer" is just too "new" and there's no good definition yet. I was hoping there was...

    0 points
  • Pedro CarmoPedro Carmo, over 5 years ago

    I actually just finished putting together a list of some of favorite resources around the topic of product design.

    Maybe this help clarify your question: http://drocarmo.com/resources/

    0 points
  • Catalin CimpanuCatalin Cimpanu, over 5 years ago

    Depends on the company.

    Each company has its own expectations and attributions from a product designer.

    0 points
  • Josh ClementJosh Clement, over 5 years ago

    Here's a good answer

    0 points
  • John Doe, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    Here's an in-depth explanation:

    https://medium.com/minimum-viable-product/9709572cb3ff

    Damn duplicate post. If only I could delete it.

    0 points
  • Lucian MarinLucian Marin, over 5 years ago

    This is what I do for the product: code it, design it, market it as such.

    In the code stage I set the features and requirements, in the design stage I try to give product a face, make it accessible and easy to use. Marketing is not my preferred thing, but it seems that is part of the way we code and design a product.

    Sometimes you code features that aren't needed or over design an interface, things that marketing (reaching people with your product) helps define better. Marketing also implies branding, positioning the product and everything that make the product stand from competition if it exists.

    0 points
  • Timur Carpeev, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    Just another nonsense title like UX designer. It is not worth digging into it, since this thing is not even defined.

    0 points
  • Oskar LevinsonOskar Levinson, over 5 years ago

    Hi Andy!

    I'm hired as a "designer" in a small startup but define my role as "product designer". I do everything from "how it looks" to "how it works" and I'd say that's my definition of a product designer. Someone who designs the experience you get from using the product you're working on.

    My tasks are basically coming up with new features, deciding which new features would make the product better, designing how those features are implemented and finally creating the visual design for that implementation.

    0 points
  • Henri LirianiHenri Liriani, over 5 years ago

    I agree with those who said Product Designer is a vague title. It definitely comes off as meaning "jack of all trades" but most often just means "ux designer."

    0 points
  • Dinh Vũ, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    if you understand the feature like a product's designer, i sure that you'll know how to make the products by designers. you can see the features as follow: http://productsdesignercanvas.com/

    0 points
  • Bruno MarinhoBruno Marinho, over 5 years ago

    I like to think that "Product Designers" have the experience and knowledge to help a company or someone who wants to start a company to turn a idea into reality. But I saw a lot of visual designers being called product designers too so in the end is just another trending job role.

    0 points