Before now, this term “product” only referred to a physical object often sold in stores, but today it also refers to digital products.
When it comes to building good products, the design is the most important “feature”. We have reached the stage where product design is dominant: it is what allows app builders to stand out and have a real advantage over its competitors.
The design industry has evolved considerably in recent years, and the term “designer” covers different functions: designer (user experience), UX UI (user interface) designer and product designer. “What is the difference between these trades? This is a question we often hear in the design industry. Let’s try to define what each of them means to discover why the evolution of UI/UX designers into product designers is a logical step in the era of modern technologies.
UX Designer, UI designer, product designer: who does what?
These three designers have one thing in common: they design the way a user interacts with a product. But they perform slightly different tasks to achieve the same goal.
UX (User Experience) Designer
The UX designer mainly deals with the feelings brought by the product. Its goal is to make the user’s interactions with the product as efficient and straightforward as possible. It examines the design from the user’s point of view and solves potential problems by:
- writing various product user scenarios and establishing interaction models;
- using different types of tests and observing user actions (e.g., usability/laboratory studies, eye tracking, A/B testing, e-mail surveys, etc.);
- creating a prototype interface and product logic in wireframe mode.
UI (User Interface) Designer
A UI designer is mainly interested in the appearance of the product. He is responsible for the appearance of the final version of the product. He designs the screens or pages with which the user interacts, and ensures that the user interface visually conveys the logic implemented by a UX designer (for example, a UI designer responsible for creating a dashboard of data can position the most important content at the top). UI Designer is also responsible for creating a style guide and a unified visual language that is applied to the entire product.
The term “product designer” is a generic term for a designer who is generally interested in the appearance and feel of a complete product. Many product designers see themselves as designers designing experiences. Indeed, the product designer is the person who provides UX and UI designers with information on the mechanism of specific features or the appearance of an interface command.
Drivers of the evolution of design
As in any other business, with design practices and its components, it is always possible to become more familiar with the details and master one’s skills by taking a more active role in the overall design process. The general trend is to broaden designers’ responsibilities in the product design process, and here are some driving forces behind this trend:
The design thinking has become a simplified approach in the design of a product. The best design reflects the goals of the product. When thinking about products, designers need to understand the company’s goals and be able to answer, first and foremost, the following questions:
1) What problem should we solve?
2) Who encounters such problems?
3) Why are we doing this?
4) How should we do?
5) What are we trying to achieve?
By answering these questions, designers can better understand the user experience of a product as a whole; not just the design part of interaction (feeling) or visual (appearance). Only then does it make sense to go to the stage of discovering a design solution that includes the following 6 phases:
– Empathy: Conduct studies to develop a better understanding of users.
– Definition: to associate the studies and to identify the environment where the problems of the users are located. In establishing the needs of users, start to highlight the opportunities for innovation.
– Generating Ideas: Finding a range of potential solutions with total freedom at the individual and team level.
– Prototype: build a prototype (or a series of prototypes) to test your solution. The creation of a prototype allows the designer to know if he is on the right track, and often brings up different ideas that otherwise would not have appeared.
– Test: ask users to give their opinion whether the solution is meeting the needs of users.
– Implementation: implement the vision. Ensure that the solution is applied and is suitable for users. This step is crucial for the entire process.
More and more companies are seeking to bring designers and developers together in the development process. This new mode of product development has two significant advantages:
– Working together in a cooperative environment creates a situation that encourages team members to come up with ideas that are out of the ordinary. Also, the critical work of the entire team is the best way to perfect something that, in an isolated design prelude, may prove unusable.
– Methodologies such as Agile and Lean allow designers and other team members to work in a more cross-functional way with broader responsibilities.
Continuous improvement (iterative design)
Unlike more conventional forms of design, the process of digital product design is not limited to a single stage, and designers should never expect to find all the right solutions at once. The implementation often reveals gaps regarding design: undocumented circumstances or wrong assumptions about the use of the product, difficult to predict before the availability of the product.
It is essential to involve in continuous improvement process to design a successful product. Iterative design is based on the idea that design must follow repeated cycles: it is a process of constant improvement and improvement of the product based on the qualitative and quantitative comments of the users. This is an excellent opportunity for designers to step back, improve their work from user feedback and make the product more useful for the user.
Product design represents the next broadening of the scope of design, from the design of the user experience to an even broader design state of the full product.
The best products are made by people who understand the product in its entirety, not just what is their domain in the strict sense. To manufacture such products, UI/UX designers must seek to evolve to become product designers capable of generating and processing additional information to achieve optimal results.
Kenneth Evans is a Content Marketing Strategist for Top App Development Companies, a research platform for top app development companies in USA, UK, India, UAE, Australia and around the world. He has been contributing to various blogging platforms and Forums.