With the world going digital within the past decade, the concept of product design evolved significantly. What used to relate to physical product engineering is now more about digital apps and user interfaces. Thus, the concept of “user experience,” or UI/UX design, became intermingled with the concept of product design. It caused common confusion about these two roles in a software development project.
Here is a handy guide on these two roles to help you distinguish between product and UI design.
Why Is There a Confusion?
Digital product design is all about positive user experience today. Without a simple, appealing, and intuitive user interface, no new product has chances for market success (with rare exceptions of exclusive products with no analogs). Thus, both Product Designers and UX Designers work hard to create usable, scalable, and visually enjoyable software and apps to increase end-user buy-in.
Still, design means different things when approached by each of these specialists. A Product Designer job description would include the following roles:
- Design of a visually appealing and usable product.
- Product sketching and wireframing from scratch to bridge ideas and actual software development.
- Expertise in graphic design, typography, and color use.
- Usability KPI measurement.
At the same time, the UX designer acts more from the user’s perspective. They focus only on how well the features developed by a Product designer match each other and work together to deliver an unmatched, hassle-free UX. Thus, when we talk about a UX designer job description, it most often focuses on:
- Skills in usability testing, user interviews, and field experiments.
- Expertise in human-computer interaction and cognitive load.
- Understanding the criteria makes products enjoyable and appealing to users.
- Responsibility for proper interaction of features and simple navigation of all product features by users.
- The ultimate focus of Product/UX Designers is a smooth, efficient user experience with a developed product.
- Both specialists should be able to make sense of the data and analyze it to perform relevant UI changes.
- Both of them use similar software and tools for user interface tweaks.
- The central focus of a UX designer is the user’s experience. Product Designers ensure that the UI aligns with business goals and requirements. The Product Designer’s role is to guarantee the present-day usability of the product. They also make sure that the product can be scaled and updated in line with the business strategy.
- UX design is project-based, while Product design is process-oriented, with the principal goal of the manager to identify and manage workflow issues.
- Product Designers take care of Quality Assurance by evaluating the product against the initial design milestones.
- Product Designers are tasked with cross-platform compatibility and scalability of products, ways to boost their efficiency.
So, What’s the Difference?
In a nutshell, there is no easy answer to this question. On the one hand, even experts often confuse the terms by considering UX design a subtype of the Product Designer’s work. Others associate UX/Product design with various stages of project preparation. Still, it’s vital to remember that these roles are distinct in terms of the expert’s mindset and mode of the business task’s execution.
We prefer to stick to a distinction that sees a UX designer as an end-user’s advocate involved in the project before its launch. In contrast, a Product Designer is more focused on the company’s business interests and gets more actively engaged in design at the post-launch phase.