Over time, UX and Product are two terms which has come into the limelight in the digital space. A modern day definition of a “product” as defined by Aaron Travis is: a digital tool or experience which is updated continuously while in use.
If you are someone who is not directly involved in product development, there is a good chance you would be confused between a Product designer vs a UX designer and what they stand for. There are two schools of thoughts in this case where one argues there is very little difference between the two roles and the other says both are distinctly different from each other.
While the roles and responsibilities between the two can sometimes be blurry depending on the organisation and industry, there are significant distinctions which sets them apart from each other. In this article, we will try to shed light on the key differences between the two roles and their significance in the space of integrated market research. Let us start with an introduction to both these titles.
Who is a Product Designer?
Product designer is a multidisciplinary designer who is responsible for the overall design process. They are the architects who make a product aesthetically pleasing and visually appealing. They ensure the all the different pieces involved in creating a good product goes well together by creating wireframes, prototypes, etc. and brings a product to life. This starts right from the initial problem-solving to making sure the product is running well and stays relevant.
Product designers typically have a strong understanding of both UX design and UI design. They are also skilled in user research, prototyping, and visual communication.
Who is a UX Designer?
A UX designer’s role is more user-driven and helps with creating the broad layout of the product. It is the UX designer’s role to understand what users are looking for and if your products solves the problem they are trying to solve. They look at solutions from a consumer’s point of view and ensures the digital products being developed are in line with the requirement of the user. This is in the way products look and feel to the user if the overall experience is seamless. So any usability issues or product flows involved while creating a product falls into the purview of a UX designer.
UX designers typically have a strong understanding of user-centred design principles. They are also skilled in user research, wireframing, prototyping, and usability testing.
Similarities between Product Designers and UX Designers
Despite their different roles, product designers and UX designers have several similarities. Both disciplines are concerned with creating products that are user-friendly and engaging. They also both use user research to understand user needs and preferences.
In addition, both product designers and UX designers need to be able to think critically and creatively. They also need to be able to communicate effectively with both technical and non-technical audiences.
Differences between Product designers and UX designers
While there is a lot of overlap when it comes to the roles between the two, the actual difference is at what point they are more involved with the product. UX designers usually are more involved in the pre-launch phase of the product lifecycle while Product designers are more involved in the post launch phase.
The broad differences in both the roles are highlighted in the table below:
The Role of User Research in Product Design and UX Design
User Research is a basis on which the frameworks of successful products are built. It plays a major role in guiding both Product and UX design flows in creating solutions that users can connect and resonate with.
Product Designers and UX Designers use a combination of different types of user research to gather user data and information. Some of the common types of user research used in product development includes, interviews, FGDs, surveys, usability testing, wireframe testing, etc.
User Research in Product Design: User Research helps product designers take informed decisions while working on a product. The data gathered provides insights about users’ pain points and preferences helping build features and functionalities in a way that meets the needs of the user and is more relevant. It can also help the designers prioritise and focus on features are per the user preferences, thus enhancing the overall experience. Early corrections to these processes minimizes cost by avoiding major changes later on in the product development stage.
User Research in UX Design: With a focus on user-centric designs, user research helps UX designers in ensuring the needs and preferences of the users are being translated onto the product. This ensures users are satisfied with the product leading to increased adoptions and fostering growth. The usability, aesthetics and accessibility of the product can be optimised by understanding stated and unstated user responses leading to products which are more mindful of actual user needs.
The Future of Product Design and UX Design
In the advent of new technologies and trends which emerges all the time, the field of Product and UX Design is only going to get bigger. There would be demand for the roles like these to create user-centric, engaging products. Product and UX Designers will have to adapt and evolve to create products which will be in accordance with the current market situation.
While product designers focus more on the tangible features and functionalities, the pre-launch aspect of providing a holistic user experience and creating a framework around that is equally important. We need to remember that empathizing with users and translating their needs to reality is key for the success of any product. Both Product designers and UX Designers have different focuses, but they unite in user research which connects both these functions through understanding users better and creating products that they will love and accept.