What Is a Product Designer? (Duties and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Product designing is creating and designing products that address a user's specific requirement and solves their problem. Product designers create good experiences for the end-users and this affects how customers interact with products. If you are seeking a career that combines business, creativity and design, a job as a product designer may be suitable for you. In this article, we answer “What is a product designer?”, explore their typical duties and the salary they earn, understand the skills they require and explore the steps required to become a successful product designer.

What is a product designer?

Product designers are creative design professionals who use their abilities to develop digital products that address the unmet demands of users. These professionals have a passion for finding solutions that allow users to use a company's product intuitively. Though product designers handle the visual aspects of a product, they play an important role in the information architecture (IA) and system design of a product.

To create useful products, a designer experiment with and tests multiple versions of the same product. This helps a product designer identify improvements. Also, they have a thorough understanding of the company's products, user requirements and production cost to execute high-quality product designs at an affordable rate. Usually, product designers work in smaller groups or work independently to conduct market research and gather information required to design a digital product.

Related: What Does a UI/UX Designer Do? (With Salary and Skills)

What is a product design?

Product design is the process of creating digital products. This process entails everything, from identifying the user's problem to developing intuitive solutions to overcome that problem. Product design focuses on enhancing the product's overall experience and ensures that supplemental capabilities and functionalities get added to the digital product without disruption.

What does a product designer do?

By collaborating with cross-functional teams and using data from user research, these professionals turn insights into creative digital products. Some of their day-to-day job duties are:

  • conduct initial research to determine whether an idea is worth pursuing

  • identify new product improvement opportunities

  • analyse trends and requirements of users

  • improve the look, feel and style of a digital product to make it intuitive

  • change existing designs to meet user requirements

  • work closely with design engineers to suggest improvements

  • develop strategies to introduce a product to a market

  • conduct user testing, A/B testing and live betas to identify areas of improvement

  • provide a status update and timeline of completion to business stakeholders and investors

  • stay up-to-date on current trends and market conditions

Average salary of a product designer

The average salary of a product designer is ₹19,450 per month. The actual salary may depend upon the educational qualification, experience and job location. Some cities pay a higher salary than others. For example, the average salary in Bengaluru is ₹35,038 per year, whereas the average salary in Chennai is ₹2,30,038 per year.

Related: Gross Salary and Net Salary: Definitions and Examples

Skills of a product designer

Here are a few skills to master for a successful career:

User research

Product designers create products for users. Usually, the products they create help in fulfilling the requirement of a user. To understand what a user needs, they conduct an in-depth interview and carry out user research. So, the ability to conduct user research is desirable for a successful career as a product designer. Knowing how to interview and create focus groups to extract the right information from the user is a desirable skill.

Visual design

These professionals require excellent visual designing skills to create visually appealing products. Having experience with colour theory, typography, style and graphic design is essential to create products that appeal to the target audience. This is an important skill because the visual design of a product or software has an enormous effect on how a user experiences an interface. As users expect a particular functionality to work based on its looks, having excellent visual design skills is necessary to create product designs that resonate with them.

Communication

Product designers communicate and work with nearly every department to create successful products. Having the ability to communicate their ideas clearly, give direction and deliver progress reports through email requires mastery of verbal and written communication skills. Also, communication skills help product designers extract information from users.

Critical thinking

Often, product designers take an idea, cultivate it and bring it to fruition with minimum help from others. This requires excellent critical thinking skills. Also, using their critical thinking skills, a designer can understand, define and solve a potential design problem. This skill determines how a designer approaches or responds to a situation or problem.

Related: Critical Thinking Skills: Definitions and Examples

Openness to constructive feedback

Accepting feedback from users, business stakeholders and team members is a part of a product designer's workday. Employers prefer candidates who willingly accept feedback and implement it to improve their design process or method. As many elements of design are subjective, it is good to listen to the opinion of others.

User interface (UI) design

UI or interaction design is about how a user interfaces or interacts with a product. It is the UI that helps a user reach their goal. Also, interaction design focuses on designing effective screen layouts and ensuring a smooth transition between distinct steps in a user's journey.

Information architecture

When creating digital products, designers require an understanding of how to store and organise data from user research and mockup designs. Unorganised data makes navigation inexplicit and can confuse the user. That is why it is important to build a product design skeleton based on IA principles. IA helps a designer address issues related to usability and navigation.

Prototyping and user testing

To ensure adequate return on investment, product designers create different digital product prototypes and test them before launching a product. This user testing allows designers to address potential functionality issues and remove those that do not add value to the digital product. The ability to create prototypes and conduct user testing is useful for this job role.

Proficiency in design software

The ability to use design software to create digital products is often the bare minimum skill for becoming a successful product designer. There are a series of free-to-use design software available in the market. Depending on the user requirement, a product designer may require mastery over more than one design software.

How to become a product designer

To become a product designer, follow these steps:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

Product designers usually hold a bachelor's degree in product design or industrial design. Degrees like Bachelor of Design (BDes) or engineering degree in any discipline like product design or industrial design or mechanical engineering can help you enter the field of product design. Most of these undergraduate courses take three to four years to complete. You can choose the undergraduate degree based on the subjects you study in 10+2. For instance, physics, chemistry and maths are essential for an engineering degree, whereas you can pursue a BDes degree without these subjects.

2. Pursue your master's degree

If you pursue a BDes degree, pursuing a Master of Design (MDes) in product or industrial design is optional. But if you complete an engineering degree, pursuing MDes may prove beneficial because it exposes you to intricate details about product design. Earning a master's degree in product design or related areas can help you develop specialised skills, give you a competitive edge over others, increase your salary and expand your job opportunities.

3. Complete an internship

Internship in the product design field can provide extensive exposure to help you build a foundation of technical knowledge. Completing an internship can help you overcome the knowledge gap and give you hands-on experience working in this industry. During your internship, create a portfolio of your work because it may be useful when applying for full-time positions. You can opt for a paid or unpaid internship during your bachelor's degree or after earning relevant experience.

4. Gain relevant experience

Often, employers require candidates to know the type of products they want to work with or develop. Gaining relevant experience can help you learn different design software and create products based on core design principles. Entry-level positions provide you with knowledge about the product and process specific to a company.

5. Create your CV and apply for jobs

To get a desired job in the product design field, create your CV, enlisting your abilities, qualifications and experience. Remember to tailor your CV for every job and include keywords from the job description to make your CV applicant tracking system (ATS) compliant. This can help you in getting shortlisted if the employer uses an ATS. After creating your CV, apply to relevant jobs using Indeed's job portal.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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