Technology and business practices as a whole are evolving like never before. Areas of expertise like web design are becoming segmented into multiple specialized roles.
The last 15 years have seen the two fundamental concepts of design and development transform into a plethora of specialized experts, such as:
- User Experience Designers
- User Experience Researchers
- Customer Experience Designers
- Product Designers
- User Interface Designers
- Visual Experience Designers
- Graphic Designers
- Service Designers
Two of the most popular design tracks are UX design and product design. Since these closely related fields have so much in common, distinguishing between them can understandably cause confusion. Even experienced professionals within the industry sometimes blur the lines between user experience (UX) design and product design.
After reading this blog post, the specific roles and responsibilities of each career choice should become much more clear.
UX Design vs Product Design: Key Similarities and Differences
A User Experience Designer (or UX Designer) prioritizes the overall user experience of a product above everything else. Their goal is to provide the user with a product or service that is easy to use, affordable, and creates a streamlined experience.
UX Designers study how users engage with a product or service, and evaluate the ease of use and performance. The primary role of a UX designer is fulfilling the user requirements and making sure the customer is happy.
A product designer has a broader role. They’re responsible for bringing a new product to life. This involves everything from the initial vision, planning and roadmap, to the design, development, testing, and ongoing iteration of the product.
Product design is a more business-oriented task and is concerned with the needs of the company and its stakeholders, as well as the customer.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the two fields, let’s delve deeper by comparing their respective responsibilities, requirements, career prospects, and expected salaries.
Typical Requirements for a Career in Product Design
To become a fully-fledged product designer, you’re generally expected to have the following experience:
- A three-year undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline.
- Three years of professional experience in a related field.
- Expertise in programs such as InVision and Sketch.
- Knowledge of the latest prototyping tools and techniques.
- Good communication, leadership, and teamwork skills.
Product Designers must have knowledge of multiple disciplines and diverse experience in both UX design and User Interfaces (UI) design. Being able to write code, solve problems efficiently, and manage a team will also give you a competitive edge in the job market.
Key Responsibilities of Product Designers
Like UX designers, product designers usually conduct extensive research on market trends and user behavior. They must identify market opportunities and create product ideas based on their findings. They are responsible for reporting their ideas to key decision-makers and stakeholders within the company.
They work with a range of different specialists within the organization, to ensure the successful delivery of new products. This includes Marketers, to maintain synergy between the brand and the product and Engineers, to keep development heading in the right direction.
In summary, Product Designers are the guardians of a product. They must ensure their new product is relevant, affordable, and functional. It must satisfy the needs of the users as well as the business needs of the company and the stakeholders.
Typical Requirements for a Career in UX Design
To start a career in UX design, the following is usually recommended:
- An undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline.
- Online or offline study programs.
- Some real-life experience in UX Design.
- A good understanding of the UX process.
- Expertise in prototyping tools such as InVision, Sketch, Axure, and Adobe Creative Suite.
Just like product designers, UX designers must also possess creative problem-solving skills and be capable of working alongside a multi-disciplined team of Product Managers, Engineers, Developers, and Researchers.
This list is certainly not exhaustive. There are alternative routes to get you started in a UX Design career. One approach is to take an online UX Design course. These UX bootcamps teach you all the necessary skills to get hired, and help you develop an extensive portfolio of work. You’ll receive the full support you need to ultimately get hired in a UX design role.
Key Responsibilities of UX Designers
UX Designers focus on three key aspects: Research, Design, and Testing. Depending on the specific company, the focus can vary. These are similar to the focus areas of a product designer, but UX designers usually have slightly different responsibilities.
UX professionals are responsible for user experience research, collecting and analyzing customer feedback, and studying user behavior. A great UX designer will collaborate with customers to create prototypes, wireframes, maps, and sketches with the ultimate aim of creating an excellent user experience.
UX and Product Design Salaries
Both UX designers and product designers have outstanding job prospects and are highly paid. The average salaries can vary depending on the exact location, industry, and years of experience.
Based on data provided by Glassdoor, Indeed, and PayScale, the average salary for a UX designer in the U.S. is $85,000, while the average salary for a product designer is $82,583.
UX Designers vs Product Designers in A Nutshell
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the difference between a UX Designer and a Product Designer. You should now be better informed to make a choice about your future career. Here is a final summary of the key similarities and differences:
- Both careers require a fundamental passion for design, together with transferable skills like leadership, negotiation, communication, and teamwork.
- UX Designers are primarily concerned with user needs, while Product Designers are more focused on business needs.
- A Product Designer must perform both technical and managerial roles while collaborating with a range of different teams.
- Product Design is a more general role, UX Design is a more specialized role.
- Both careers are highly sought after within the business community.
If you have an appetite to read more, check out our other blog posts on UX/UI design.
Maybe after delving deeper into the world of digital design, you’re ready to take action and kickstart your new career today. Enroll in our UX/UI Design Bootcamp and learn all the skills you need to land a high-paying job. We offer one-on-one mentoring and support you every step of the way in your journey to a new career.