How to become a product designer
What does a product designer do?
A product designer is responsible for taking an idea from concept to completion, whether it's a new gadget, a website or a marketing campaign. Product designers work with a wide range of media and technology. Typically, product designers work in product development teams along side UX researchers, frontend and backend engineers, interaction designers and a product manager. A product designers typical day could include creating multiple solutions to solve a problem, user testing, user research, designing user interfaces and even visual design.
Breaking into the product design industry can be daunting, but with the right understanding, it can also be an incredibly rewarding career that allows you to explore your creative side and help people solve problems. It's important to remember that there is no set path for becoming a UX designer. The first step is to determine what your primary interest is by asking yourself what your goals are as a designer. As an aspiring UX designer, you have two main goals:
To solve problems that users encounter when using products or services. To create experiences that allow users to complete their tasks more efficiently, effectively, and enjoyably than they could without the experience you've created.
A common misconception is that designers must be artists at heart—and while this may be the case for some UX designers, it's not necessary for success in the field. So if you think you might like the job but aren't sure if design is right for you, here are some of the most important skills you should develop before breaking into the industry:
- Product research and development: Product designers spend a lot of time researching products and trends, because they need to stay on top of current technology and design methods. They also use their research skills to develop new products and features based on market needs.
- Designing: Product designers create plans for how a product will look and work. They may need to draw pictures or create digital prototypes to demonstrate their ideas.
- Testing: Product designers test their designs in real-world situations — that might mean testing prototypes in the lab, or using focus groups to gauge public opinion about new products.
- Marketing: Product designers often have marketing skills, because they're expected to promote the benefits of their products and communicate those benefits to customers. Because of this, they must understand how customers make buying decisions and how competitors' products compare.
How to become a product designer
A lot of companies out there are looking for a good product designer. In fact, there are even entire businesses devoted to connecting startups with talented designers.
Keeping up with the latest trends in design, from flat design to mobile-first, is a great way to build your professional portfolio and increase your chances of landing a job. But here's the thing: you don't need to understand the latest design trends in order to become a product designer.
Here's how you can become a product designer without an in-depth knowledge of design trends:
- Learn the basics of UX design. User experience (UX) designers are responsible for making sure users have a good experience when using digital products. They do this by making sure sites or apps are easy to navigate, intuitively laid out, and responsive to users' needs. They also make sure interfaces don't confuse or frustrate users in any way.
- Learn about user behavior when it comes to your specific industry. Whether you're creating a website, app, physical product or service, there are certain behaviors that drive your customers' decisions when it comes to your industry. For example, if you're selling shoes online, you might find that people tend to browse for new shoes on their phones in the evening after work (when they're most likely to be bored). If you're creating an app for drivers looking for parking spots in big cities, you might
- Build your portfolio . You don't necessarily need to be working at a well-known company or creating something innovative — just focus on quality over quantity. Collecting examples of your best work will make it easy for potential employers to see what you're capable of.
- Read articles and books . There are lots of articles and books out there that teach the basics — perfect if you're just starting out and need some guidance. Just make sure you're focusing on reputable resources, or else you might end up learning bad