Product design combines business objectives and users' pain points to create usable products that thrive well in the market and meet specific user needs.
Product design is an offshoot of an early discipline called industrial design. Industrial design is the process of designing physical products in mass production.
This role was prevalent in the industrial era, and it encompasses how a product functions, its aesthetic design, and how to make it easy for users to use.
The entire stages of product design is centered around the users' perception of the product. So, Industrial designers worked alongside manufacturers to help create products that were appealing and easy to use.
Similarly, product designers follow a detailed design process that involves conducting user research to ascertain user needs and studying product desirability trends in the marketplace.
A Product designer combines the objective of a UX designer to be user-centered with the market performance of products in their design process. Thus, product design is a parent of UX design. It is the overall process of designing a product.
The product design process includes a mix of UX design methodologies with a close watch on the business objectives and the market for the product.
So, is there any difference between a UX designer and a product designer?
Product Design vs. UX Design: Any difference?
There are a few differences between product design and UX design.
Though UX designers can perform the role of product designers and vice versa, there is a slight difference between the two. UX design deals with how users experience a product.
So, UX designers research user needs, draw wireframes, create product prototypes, and conduct usability testing to test prototypes with user representatives before the product launch.
UX designers tend to focus more on the user than other aspects of the product.
However, the product designer's role starts with conducting market research.
They go through the motions of a UX designer, which begins with user research, drawing wireframes, etc., but they are not concerned about the user alone. They also study their competitors to know how they can edge them.
Product designers draw the product roadmap for the whole team. They can also detect a market opportunity for the product and assess the likely impact of the different teams' decisions based on their knowledge of the market (from market research) and their competitors.
After the product launch, it is the product designer's job to collect user feedback and use this to make improvements to the product.
Product designers move up the ladder to become product managers. They can oversee the overall process of creating a product and manage all the multi-disciplinary teams working on the product.
Product design is about creating a brand from a product and ensuring the identity of that brand cuts across every design strategy and appearance of that product.
Product design is all about following due process. What are these processes?
The Product Design Process
The product design process is a sequence of steps that a product designer or product teams follow to create a design solution for users' pain points.
One thing about the product design process is that it is not linear. As a product designer, you will find yourself going back to some of these processes even after the product is launched.
Brainstorming is the first stage in the product design process. It is where the product team shares the r thoughts to generate design ideas together.
Brainstorming is about using insightful and dynamic thinking to generate ideas. It is more productive when done within a group.
Group brainstorming stimulates active participation. This makes getting a solution process quicker.
Many times, sharing different perspectives and opinions can expand the scope of an idea. Not only will there be other solutions to a problem, but there will also be innovative ideas to create more products. Brainstorming births potential solutions to problems.
For brainstorming to be effective, there are specific rules to follow.
Rules for brainstorming
Encourage a variety of ideas.
Do not criticize ideas, even if they seem off.
Build on each person's ideas.
Do not put limits on ideas.
Some highly creative people may be nervous during brainstorming sessions for personal reasons; they may be shy, introverted, or not very expressive.
So, to get the best of these people, there are different methods you can adopt for your brainstorming, some of which are:
Brainwriting. Brainwriting encourages participation from every member of the group, especially introverts. In brainwriting, you pass a piece of paper around where each person writes their ideas. They can expand on what someone has written or write a fresh idea. After this, you can write the ideas on a board, match similar ideas, and have a general discussion to sieve the ideas and produce a solution.
Rapid Ideation. Rapid ideation is like brainwritinglike , but with a limited time. It is an effective method for generating ideas within a brief time. You give everyone a paper to write their thoughts on within a limited time. This method helps you reach your goal faster.
Brain dumping. Brain dumping can help you declutter your mind if you have many things going on in your mind. You can start by writing everything on your mind on paper, whether they are relevant to design or not. Just write everything on your mind down.
Reverse thinking. Reverse thinking is turning the problem the other way around. It is like trying to prevent yourself from getting a solution to the problem, then turning those suggestions the other way. For example, if you want to create a product that helps people book flights easily. Instead of asking, how can we make it easy for people to book flights? You can ask, how can we make it difficult for people to book flights? Then turn those suggestions around into things you should avoid in creating a solution. This will guide your thoughts and help you deliver awesome ideas.
User research process
The next step in the product design process is user research. This is important both for the UX designer and the product designer. User research is about the users' opinions, pain points, motivations, and aspirations.
The research guides the design team to focus on the product's user experience, not their assumptions. User experience is king in design. The product is made for the user to benefit the user.
Thus, user interviews are conducted to understand the specifics of the user needs. User interviews are usually in a question-and-answer format. So, you must make sure you ask the right questions. At the end of the research, you should be able to know your target audience thoroughly.
Concept development process
The product designer conducts a feasibility test for the product to know if it is feasible for development.
Creating User Journey and Customer Journey maps process
User journey maps are used for illustrating the user flows through your product. It is the representation of a user's experience with a product across different channels.
A customer journey map also represents the customer's experience with your brand. It details how the customer moves through each phase of the experience with your brand.
The customer is your client. They are the ones paying for the product while the user is the one using the product itself. In a case where the customer is also the user, the customer journey map is also the user journey map so that you can have just one map for the customer.
This is simply creating mockups of the original product. Prototypes can be used for usability testing and serve as the product version that you can always edit. You can start building prototypes after making final decisions on your design concepts and strategies.
Dogfooding is a way to test your product in-house before releasing it to the public. The phrase "eat your research own dog food" is a testing technique among designers. It allows your team to identify issues with the prototype before you design the final product.
Usability testing is simply conducting user tests on the product prototypes with the user's representative. It is a design technique to understand how your product is behaving. This will help you identify errors early, and you can make changes before the product's final launch. It is best if your testers are from your target audience to get viable opinions from them. Testing is important in design. You can do free testing for focus groups, interviews, etc.
Product launch and feedback
The product launch is determined by the search that has been made in the market for the product.
Apart from these processes, there is also design thinking. The design thinking process guides designers throughout the design journey.
You can learn the UX design processes at the GoCreate USA Bootcamp training on product d sign. Register for the Bootcamp here
What is Design Thinking?
Design thinking is an iterative problem-solving approach that product designers use to prioritize users' pain points.
It relies on connecting with the users' emotions, empathizing with their needs, and creating products from an empathetic standpoint. Design thinking encourages rapid iterations to develop a product with a good user experience.
Design thinking is a mindset that serves as a guide during product design, while the design process is a set of steps an organization follows to create products.
The design thinking process is divided into five:
Empathize. Empathy helps you design from the user's perspective. It allows you to set aside your personal biases and assumptions to focus on the pain points and needs of the user. Empathy can be gained when you start understanding the pains of the user. You can start understanding your user when you conduct user interviews. You will need to work with a UX researcher if the scope of your work in your organization does not include research. This will help you create a user-centered product.
Define. After conducting user interviews, you need t properly define the problems of the user. A proper definition of the problem will help you know the type of solution to propose.
Ideate. The ideation stage is where you apply the brainstorming technique. After the problem definition, you are now ready to generate ideas that will solve the problems you have identified.
Prototype. After ideation, you can start building prototypes. The aim of prototyping is to find the best expression for the ideas that you have generated. It is best to produce inexpensive versions of the product during prototyping so that you will not incur too many expenses. There are prototype tools that can help you achieve that. You can even use paper prototyping.
Test. Evaluators rigorously test the prototypes to determine the proposed product's demand, functionality, and usability. This is the final stage of the design thinking process, but you can repeat each stage to achieve the best result. Therefore, design thinking is called an iterative process.
What are the skills needed by a product designer?
There are many skills to learn in product design. As earlier said, these skills are the same for a UX designer. These skills are fundamental to providing the best user experience. Some of the relevant skills to learn in product design are:
Research: To be an effective product designer, you must know what the user wants. The user's problems and pain points are fundamental to creating user-centric products. One of the greatest mistakes you can make as a product designer is to assume for users. It is better to confirm your assumptions by conducting research on the users. The research will help you identify the users' pain points, aspirations, motivations, and needs. Your design principles cannot save you when designing out of context for users. In fact, users' information should guide your design processes. This skill is mostly known as UX research because it is associated with UX design. There are UX researchers who have built a career on this skill. Product designers would have to work closely with UX researchers in a large organization where processes are integrated into teams. A UX researcher is saddled with the responsibility of getting information from users during the design process. As much as it stands as a carrier on its own, it is also part of the skills of a product designer.
Wireframing. Wireframing is like the skeletal component for the functionality of a product. Wireframing involves drawing how each screen of your product will function. Note that wireframing does not show how the product looks but how it functions. So, you must include all the necessary components and interactions for each screen in wireframing.
Prototyping. Prototyping is like an experimental process in product d sign. It is also part of the design process. But, beyond a process, it is a skill that you must learn to be an effective product designer. So, prototyping is creating samples of the original product. So, in prototyping, you are turning those sketches and wireframes you have done into a digital format, mockups of the proposed product. Prototypes save you from creating products that users do not desire. Prototypes are used during usability testing to get users' opinions about the product. There are paper and digital prototypes. For digital prototypes, there are prototyping tools to help you make your work easy. Some of them are Sketch, Zeplin, Figma, FramerX, Webflow, Balsamiq, RapidUI, Adobe XD, Invision, etc. Each of these prototypes has a design system that helps you create mockups of your proposed product.
Information architecture. Information architecture is the organization of information across a website in a manner that users can understand. This can be on a website, software, web app, or mobile app.
Visual design. Design is first seen before it is experienced. Visual design is all about knowing the techniques to design the user interface of products. While a UX designer might not be so concerned with visual design, a product designer who is concerned with the overall design process should learn basic visual design skills.
Top tools you will need as a product designer
Types of product design
There are three types of product design. They are
Process design, and
User Interface design
System design. System design defines the architecture, components, and modules of a system to meet the required specifications. The main objective of system design is to provide enough information about the system and its elements so that its implementation can be consistent with its architectural models.
Process design. Process design is about defining the processes of the design. The objective of process design is to ensure that the design process is coordinated with the product's business requirements and user experience.
Interface design. The two components that make up a product are the interface and the functionality of the product. The interface design expresses the functionality and usability of the product in visual representations. The interface is what the user can see and interact with. It is what gives beauty to design.
Product design is a field that seeks to provide solutions to human needs. This makes good products an important part of our lives.
Any time you use a product, think about the processes that lead to that product, and you will again appreciate product designers.
You can become a product designer too. You can learn product design techniques in a few months and get better at it. Register for the GoCreate USA Bootcamp today and start the journey to being a product designer.