Product design and User Experience design (better known as UX in the tech world) have to be one of the most sought for skills in this age of daily technological revolution. The two facets are interdependent and crucial in most organizations. Several techies have argued that the difference between the two is almost blurry. Others say that the difference emanates from checking out the given contents of the job descriptions under these two titles and another group is of the theory that the two have overlapping characteristics. To have a better understanding of the two, let us delve into more extensive details on this topic.
Product Design Vs. UX Design
- Every year several students enroll for design programs while others graduate, to add to the flooded job market. It is becoming a common trend for fresh graduates to start in UX design and work their way into product design. This, however, may not be the conventional route for everyone.
- The job descriptions of a product designer may very much vary with that of a UX designer from organization to organization. This can be explained by the fact that organizational models and goals vary per organization.
- Product design majorly focuses on the creation of a physical product that considers the organizational and customers' needs or problems and seeks to solve them.
- UX design focuses on giving the users of the product pleasant and smooth user experience.
- It should be noted that even professional designers themselves do not give a consistent difference between the two, but some things about these two categories of design are conventionally agreed upon by designers.
Comparison Between Product Design and UX Design
The two skill sets are more similar than different as you may notice. One notable similarity is how a designer needs to use the design thinking process when utilizing any of them.
The design thinking process involves identifying the problem at hand to be solved and taking into consideration the needs of the users, be it the organization or customers, to craft a solution that works to solve the problem or need. A primary focus of design is on the end-user because a product crafted without consideration of the user will end up being irrelevant when released.
Data analysis also plays a significant role in design. Both skill sets require that the designers know how to carry out data analysis for better results. For example, the product designer will need to analyze demand numbers by users to make a call on what product to develop. On the other hand, a UX designer will need to analyze data from users on competitive products. The information from this data will help them to make calculated steps towards a relevant product that can serve the user.
The two professions are also similar in that they can make use of the same tools in their line of work. Some standard tools used by product design as well as UX design include and are not limited to mind mapping tools, sketch tools, low-fidelity prototyping tools, high-fidelity prototyping tools, interactive design tools, prototype design tools, and wireframe design tools.
Differences Between Product Design and UX Design
There are no clear cut differences between the two disciplines. However, there are a few things that can be said to set the two design faucets apart. Consider the main focuses and responsibilities in these two areas.
In the creation process, the product designer tends to be more concern about business and organizational goals. The UX designer is concern about the user. When we talk about the product designer focusing on the business goals, we mean that they consider whether or not the product will further the short-term and long-term goals of the organization such as profitability, sustainability, and expansion. For the UX designer, the ease of use by the user is their ultimate reference every time they make progress in their work.
In terms of responsibilities, we can differentiate them as follows. When a product designer wants to create a product, they first analyze the demand for the product they want to develop in the market through research. They then come up with a design plan, making them in charge of all things product design. Next, they create a prototype of their design and after that get into product development. Analysis of the operations data is crucial for product optimization. Lastly, the product designer is responsible for the overall improvement of the product. In summary, product designers take care of the product look and feel.
For a UX designer, the responsibilities include analysis of competitive products to understand the user's preferences and needs. They draw flowcharts to have clarity of the steps the users will take in the interface; then they come up with low-fidelity prototypes. These prototypes can always be modified. UX designers also create interactive interfaces for product prototypes and after that create high fidelity prototypes. The interface, outlay of the product as well as the text on the product page is a significant part of their responsibility. Once the design is complete, they check the usability of the product and troubleshooting to address any problems that may arise. Lastly, a UX designer is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the user experience design is always at its optimum for maximum comfort of the users of the product.
It may not be clear where the product design and UX design begin to differ because they are interdependent and make use of similar tools to execute their tasks. Besides, a seasoned product designer can be able to perform tasks related to UX design and vice versa.
The differences between these two disciplines of design will, however, differ from organization to another given that different organizations have different needs and goals, which informs the job descriptions they will give under these job titles.
Despite the blanket approach on this matter, one thing is clear about the two: as the tech industry continues to grow and change with time, the design thinking process used when conducting product design or UX design continues to be mostly non-linear, making the distinction between the two even more blurry because of rapid evolution and change.