• UX Design

Product Design vs. UX Design

Olga Novikova
4 Sep 2020
5 min
Product Design vs. UX Design

If you already know the difference between product design and UX design, consider yourself lucky, since most people don’t see any difference between the two notions. And if you don’t, that’s totally fine, because, in a couple of minutes, you’ll know the answer, too. 

Whether you’re a business owner, HR, or a future design specialist, you need to clearly understand the skills and responsibilities UX design and product design require. They do share the ultimate objective of making an outstanding app or website for people to use and enjoy, but the approaches to reach that goal vary.

Postindustria set out to put an end to this confusion once and for all. So keep reading to finally discover how product and UX design differ, and what they have in common.

Let’s get to know both contestants better, shall we?

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    What is UX design about?

    The need for UX design arose when designers and developers realized a crucial thing: the deciding vote on how a product should work belongs to the user. This knowledge forged a new approach – UX design – and fueled the creation of user-friendly interfaces based on user needs. 

    Understanding the target audience helps UX designers develop behavioral patterns and come up with, and test, various options to offer users exactly what they want. The human factor guides UX design; its research and analysis are based on the human-centered approach, so a UX designer:

    • researches the target audience through interviews and user surveys
    • analyzes competitors and the market
    • develops user personas or applies the Jobs to be Done approach
    • creates wireframes, prototypes, and performs usability tests

    In a nutshell, UX design is mostly about constant product improvement according to the user’s needs. Okay, then…

    What is product design?

    Unlike UX design, product design covers a broader range of responsibilities. It’s about the end-to-end experience, sense of people’s needs and business goals, and the ability to combine them to achieve success. 

    Experienced product designers are handymen who operate UI/UX design principles, front-end development, and visual design. At the same time, they always keep in mind the market needs and product relevance.

    A product designer is responsible for:

    • finding a niche for the product in a market 
    • understanding the market and user needs 
    • building a strategy for further project development
    • testing design concepts 
    • implementing the necessary functions and improvements

    You’ve probably noticed that product design and UX design have many things in common, and that’s why people often mix them up. 

    Common traits of product design and user experience design 

    There are three fundamental traits that make UX design and product design look alike.

    The first is the design thinking technique both approaches require. It combines the ability to discover human needs and problems, generate creative solutions, and design a corresponding prototype. 

    The second is the goal to create more functional and easy-to-use products for users. Both product design and user experience design strive for meaning in every form, function, or update they design.

    The third is the high level of analytical skills designers need to possess. UX designers and product designers use the same toolkit to achieve their goals since numerous interviews, surveys, and testing rounds are the pillars of both approaches. Such responsibilities require professionals who can retrieve information, dissect it, and know how to implement it best.  

    But that’s where their similarities end. 

    Differences between product design and UX design

    Even though they have some things in common, comparing UX design and product design is like comparing apples and oranges. The main distinction is that product design focuses on business aspects, while UX strives to make the best user experience design with great usability

    Both are guided by different approaches. Product design predicts the project’s development and builds an exceptionally prudent strategy for introducing it to the market, while UX attempts to understand human nature deeper, namely the problem of the target audience. We can say that product design is about calculating and profit-seeking, while UX design masters empathy and emotional intelligence. 

    Product designers cover more angles on any project; they don’t care solely about usability and user satisfaction, but also help build product roadmaps with detailed forecasts. They define goals on the market and choose the feature that should be released next. Thus, product designers have a more complete, all-encompassing vision of the project, and they can even lead a UX product design team, helping minimize the risks of unprofitable design decisions.

    As far as UX designers are concerned, their primary task is to know how to solve people’s problems with the help of design tools. They focus on constant usability improvement by interviewing people and analyzing their good or bad experiences. We may say that UX is working here and now, solving the current problem, while product design is meant to look into the future, predicting and preventing possible issues.

    Product design vs. UX design: an example

    They say “show, don’t tell,” so let’s look at the difference between product design and UX design, illustrated through John and Jess. 

    John is an employee at a UX design agency. Jess is a UX product designer at a large company. At first glance, their jobs are similar, but they’re very different if you look at their responsibilities.

    John designs user flows and wireframes and decides where the “Buy” button goes for utmost convenience. When the first draft of the interface is ready, he tests prototypes through user interviews, and after collecting feedback, John corrects the uncovered shortcomings, improving the app’s usability.

    Jess, on the other hand, oversees the development of the app her company is building. Her responsibilities include monitoring the market and competitors and comparing the app with the existing ones. Based on the findings, Jess decides whether to add the QR code scanning feature or the registration page needs to be redesigned altogether to improve the user experience. At the same time, Jess calculates the approximate costs and possible revenue from introducing the new function.

    Each of them asks different questions while working. John asks himself, “What can I do to improve the interface’s usability?” while Jess thinks, “If the product evolves this way, where will it be in two years? Is the new feature justifying the cost?”

    The takeaway

    As far as design goes, both UX and product design are equally important in creating successful projects. But even if they seem similar, they employ diverse methods and approaches during the working process. 

    Both of them share the same goal – to present the best UI/UX design service for the user. Yet, a product designer is driven by supporting the project’s brand on the market and gaining revenue, while a UX designer is guided by delivering the best possible accessibility and user-friendliness.

    We truly hope that this post helped you out, and now you can confidently say how product design and UX design differ. And if you don’t, you can always contact us to ask more questions. Postindustria’s design team will be happy to help.

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