product designer vs. UX designer - cover

Product Designer vs. UX Designer: Key Differences

Design, Product
9 min
Nov 16, 2023

The product’s design is one of the crucial aspects determining whether the product will succeed. According to the study by Dollar Shave Club, customers form their first impression within 27 seconds. Therefore, you should build a robust and eye-catching design to keep viewers eager to explore your service and engaged. Hiring a professional designer is a decisive part of the development process.

When digging deeper, businesses stumble across a question: who is a product designer and a user experience (UX) designer? Aren’t they performing the same functions? Let’s find out the difference between these two professionals and learn more about their roles.

Product Design and UX Design: What Are They About?

When discovering the meaning of product design, it is essential to state that it refers to the overall design process and includes imagining, creating, and testing stages. Its final results align with the business’s and users’ needs. For a product design, it is inherent to take all the aspects into account: the situation on the market, the problem, a solution, and validation with end-users.

In turn, UX design concentrates on the product’s usability side. It focuses on the insurance so that all the picture elements are easy to understand for users. From the business point of view, user experience design is responsible for converting leads to customers, retaining existing customers, and increasing user satisfaction.

Difference Between UX Design and Product Design

Although both product and UX designers are specialists in the design sphere, these professions have several differences. To understand them better, it is worth asking some questions. While the main question of a product designer is “Will this platform be relevant given the opportunity on the market?” for a UX one, it is “How do I improve the design so it suits the users’ needs?” When it comes to finances, a product team specialist will think about how to save costs on development, while a user experience professional will consider how to invest more in feature planning and implementation.

So, the difference between product designer and UX designer is in their focus. In the first case, business, time, and brand play a crucial role. In the second one, user-friendliness and usability are of great importance.

Similarities Between UX and Product Designers

Along with performing different tasks, these two professionals also have similar traits. And the first one is that they follow the same design methods and use related tools. It is equal for product and UX designers to conduct user research, create prototypes, choose design principles, and perform user testing.Other overlapping duties are to create a design for humans, meaning they both intend to put a customer at the center of everything. They focus on market research and the latest trends in design.

The Role of Product Designer

The role of a product designer in the process of creating any product is irreplaceable. Generally, the product designer is a person who is responsible for the overall appearance of the program or application. However, to draw a more apparent line between these two positions, let’s look at the responsibilities of each of the positions, starting with a product designer.

Cooperation with Other Teams

The first point separating the product and UX designer is that they should work with other team departments. Product designers should be deeply invested in cooperation with other team members. Their role also provides the correct functioning of the whole project, which takes a lot of communication and rarely involves only the design sphere.

Experience in Multiple Areas of Production

Another critical point in the role of product design is that a specialist should be experienced in all stages of product development. Product designers put their hands on almost every stage of the project development process. This specialist participates in creating business models, payment algorithms, business analysis, etc. So, the main complexity lies in the fact that they should be good at everything.

Leadership Qualities Are Must

Leadership is another skill that is required for the role of the product designer. Product designers make an irreplaceable contribution to the teamwork inside the company. These people gather in different teams, making them work together as a solid mechanism. For this reason, a person who claims a product designer position should be at least a good manager and find an approach to make everything work together.

The Role of UX Designer

A UX designer is a person who is responsible for the experience that the user will face during their interaction with your product. Even though the scope of tasks for UX designers primarily relates to the field of design, this position is one of the most important. And all because the whole user’s experience with your program depends on that person.

Working with Users’ Feedback

Even though the UX designers don’t work directly with the user’s feedback, they take a huge role in processing it. UX designers significantly impact the improvement of the final version of the product by receiving the user’s feedback from corresponding departments.

Improvement of Customers’ Experience

A UX designer is also a person who is responsible for all scenarios that are happening inside the app. UX designers create a proper application structure that will subsequently be brought to life by the backend programmers. So, if the product design is not created correctly, the app is doomed to fail.

Knowledge of Proper Design Structure

Another responsibility of any UX representative is to have a great knowledge of interface design basics. UX designers are also great experts in properly using color, correct program structure, and even some basic psychology, which helps them hit the bull’s eye off the users’ needs.

Skills and Qualities of a Successful Product Designer

Like any professional, a decent product designer should have a set of particular qualities and skills. We already revealed some of the main hard skills of this specialist in the previous section. That’s why let’s take a closer look at the soft skills necessary for receiving this position:

Skills and qualities of a successful product designer

  • Time management. As any responsible employee, the product designer should be loyal to the deadline. Unfortunately, no project can be trusted by a person suffering from procrastination. That’s why this position is the wrong choice if you do not consider yourself punctual and do not care about deadlines.
  • Critical thinking. Product designers face a lot of stressful situations regularly. That’s what makes critical thinking an irreplaceable quality for any designer. This quality is a must when you have to make decisions under pressure.
  • Communication. You can only handle this job with communication skills when you are the connecting link between the whole product team. That’s why this position was not meant for you if you consider yourself an introvert.

Skills and Qualities of a Successful UX Designer

Some new items might expand the roles and responsibilities of UX designer. So, let’s uncover some unique features of UX designers:

Skills and qualities of a successful UX designer

  • Creativity. It’s no surprise that no UX designer doesn’t have a lack of creativity. That is connected with the fact that UX is still more directed at creativity than any developer’s position. If you’re enthusiastic about art, this is a great choice.
  • Curiosity. Another quality that helps a person fit into the shoes of a UX designer is curiosity. The truth is that this position hides a lot of riddles and difficulties. All that makes a curious person the number one candidate for this role.
  • Collaboration. Even the most introverted UX designer has to prepare for a lot of communication because collaboration is essential to UX design. During interface creation, the designer communicates with other departments to make a design fits the general concept of the app.

Digital Product Designer vs. UX Designer: How Do They Work Together?

Even though, at first glance, both positions look similar, their representative should put a lot of effort into making things work. The first point that makes this cooperation effective is communication. If you look at any successful release, you will understand that this product has great communication between the product and the design team.

So, we can illustrate a key to successful cooperation as a simple concept. The product team creates an idea when the UX team revives it, and in between, there will be a lot of sync-ups and calls, which will lead to perfection.

The Future of Product and UX Design

The future of product design and UX design is connected as well. Both positions will likely continue to depend on each other. That means that we will not likely witness the fusion of the spheres in one direction. However, it is more likely that we will see a gradual presence of AI in both product and UX design.

As a result, it will significantly improve the user experience and the quality of the released products. Apps will become increasingly advanced in understanding our needs, which is all a matter of the near future.

How to Hire a Product Designer & UX Designer

If you are determined to succeed in product development, invest your time and resources in UX and product design. The good news is that even if you are a complete rookie, you can contact us, and we will do all the necessary work. What are your next steps when you hire product designer and UX designer?

Hire a product designer & UX designer

  • Explain your vision and goals. First, we need to understand the essence of your product and the goals you want to achieve. This information is crucial for searching for a candidate with proper experience and knowledge.
  • Provide budget expectations. Honesty in financial questions is another point that will significantly speed up searches for suitable employees. Our agency provides practical solutions for all kinds of companies, starting with startups and ending with big corporations.

Receive a solution. After several consultations and negotiations, we will provide you with a list of possible candidates who will perfectly fit all your requirements. So, the last thing you should do is make a decisive choice and hire UX designer or product designer.

by Ivan Klyzhenko
UX Startup Advisor, Uitop


Why should UX and product designers work together for the best results?

The undeniable fact is that the success of your product relies on the excellent cooperation of these two areas of expertise. If you delete or replace the UX designer with a product designer, the whole project will fall apart. The only way for the product to succeed is to make it work as a whole.

What are the main responsibilities of a product designer?

A good product designer is a combination of both an artist and a manager. That’s because product designers should be able to connect all areas of product development. A great understanding of used technologies, structure, business needs, and user expectations is necessary.

Is there any difference between a UX designer and a product designer?

There is a considerable difference between the positions of UX and product designer. The first position is more directed toward developing the program’s interface and concentrates on improving the interaction of the users with the app. Meanwhile, the product designer deals with the overall development of the entire project.

What distinguishes a UX designer from a product designer?

The main distinction of the UX designer is that this person is mostly responsible for the creation of the visual look of the app. Frequently, UX designers concentrate on their sphere of expertise without interfering with other areas of product creation.

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