UX Designer vs. Product Designer: How the Roles Differ


What is the difference between the two? In our opinion, many of the skills required for these two disciplines have a lot of overlap, except for a few very key differences.

In this article, we will compare a UX designer to a product designer and explain to you the differences in terms of the responsibilities and the questions that both of these roles address.

What is UX Design?

User Experience (UX) encompasses every interaction a user has with a product or service. UX design considers every single element that shapes that experience; how it feels to the user, and how easy it is for the user to complete their desired tasks. This can be anything from how a physical product feels in your hand to how easy the checkout process is when purchasing online. The goal of UX design is to create simple, efficient, relevant, and thoroughly pleasurable experiences for the user.

What is UX Design?

The question of what UX Design is and how a good user experience stands out can be easily answered; UX Design determines how easy or difficult it is to interact with user interface elements.

UX designers combine market research, product development, strategy, and design to create frictionless user experiences for products, services, and processes. They build a bridge to the customer and help the business better understand – and meet – their needs and expectations.

There are numerous examples of failed UX design. Good user experience is characterized by being unobtrusive. The more sophisticated the UX, the less it is noticed by the general public.

The commercial success of digital products depends to a large extent on a solid UX strategy, so the importance of UX design should by no means be underestimated.

What is Product Design?

Since product design is derived from industrial design, product design has existed for quite a while longer than UX design. Still, the anatomy of a product designer remains difficult to grasp for many – sometimes even for product designers themselves. That’s why we want to clear up the question, “What is product design?”

What is Product Design?

Product design is concerned with the design of serial and/or industrial products and this is why people sometimes call them industrial designers. In general, product design distinguishes between two areas of work: The design of consumer goods and the design of capital goods. Due to this division of labor, the product designer often works in an interdisciplinary team.

For the most part, the role of a product designer is quite flexible and can be compared to that of a full-stack designer; a multidisciplinary ” jack-of-all-trades” who does UX, UI, project management, coding, and (maybe most importantly) problem-solving. In short, a product designer designs solutions to the problems that may arise during the creation process.

To solve these problems, product designers follow the approach of assembling teams to facilitate solutions, produce wireframes, create multiple test plans, and go through rounds of A/B testing. A product designer will also support developers during the launch process and work with marketing teams to ensure synergy between the brand and the product. 

In a nutshell, the question “What is product design?” can be answered by saying that product designers are guardians of the product. They make sure it is the most relevant, cost-effective, and functional product possible, and that all stakeholders are satisfied.

What is the difference between UX Design and Product Design?

Despite having several similarities, comparing these two reveals some differences in terms of their professions. One of the best ways to understand the difference between the two can be seen in the questions they may ask. Whereas a UX designer may ask, “Is this product easy to use?” a product designer may ask, “Does this product actually make sense in the current economy?” Likewise, a UX designer could ask, “How do I make my design user-friendly?” whereas a product designer may ask, “How do I make my design cost-effective?” The general attitude is that compared to UX designers, product designers have a wider range of skills and a wider range of responsibilities within the project which is reflected in the product designer vs UX designer salary. Product designers often get paid more due to higher demand because of their skills. According to Glassdoor, the average product designer salary on average in Germany is slightly higher at €51,168, compared to the average UX designer salary which is €50,076.

Responsibilities of a Product Designer

-Courtesy of indeed.com

  • Create design concepts and drawings to determine the best product
  • Present product ideas to relevant team members for brainstorming
  • Suggest improvements to design and performance to product engineers
  • Employ design concepts into functional prototypes
  • Perform research on product technologies and structures to implement into design concepts
  • Maintain up to date on current industry trends and market conditions
  • Coordinate with designers to ensure accurate communication and efficiency in the design phase
  • Modify and revise existing designs to meet customer expectations

Responsibilities of a UX Designer

-Courtesy of indeed.com

  • Conduct testing of sample applications, websites, and software to assess user experience and ease of design
  • Use recent studies and findings to establish the best overall design elements to include in UX design experiences
  • Build storyboards to conceptualize designs to accurately convey project plans to clients and senior management
  • Create surveys for research through various media platforms to gather feedback on user’s ease of use and satisfaction interfacing on company websites and products
  • Design the aesthetics to be implemented within a website or product, from the layout menus and drop-down options to colors and fonts allowing for interface edits as needed
  • Analyze customer responses and website data to examine high traffic web pages and determine why certain webpages perform better
  • Enhance user experience by creating seamless navigation through various digital programs and interfaces within the company
  • Combine interface design concepts with digital design and establish milestones to encourage cooperation and teamwork

When comparing these two disciplines, it becomes apparent there is no significant, standout difference between the two. There are some minor differences that make up these two but depending on what the need of the company is, they are very individual. The skills needed are very similar, but it’s the questions each role asks along the way that make the difference.

Conclusion: UX Designer vs. Product Designer

In conclusion, concerning the opposing position of UX designers and product designers, we can draw many parallels between them. What makes the difference is when the design process starts and what kind of questions I ask. Unlike the 90s and early 2000s, the Internet is no longer limited to our desktops or laptops. The world is filled with so many different devices, which makes design dynamic in every way; it’s constantly changing and evolving, just like the users.

Depending on the products you work on and the problems you solve, you might be a UX designer one day and a product designer the next. It depends not only on the needs of your business and your users but also on the problems you’re working to solve and the questions you’re asking along the way.

If you are a decision-maker or CEO in your company and are struggling with a lack of product experience, trust, communication, and leadership structure in your team, we have the right solution: we build digital software for startups and corporations so they can embrace, grow, and optimize their digital leadership. With our UX design experts, we develop your product agilely, incorporating your feedback throughout, then iterate over design and user experience to find the best solution for all target groups.

Launch your product faster with our CTO as a Service solution. We provide our customers with a cohesive team to drive their product development quickly while helping them hire their own team to replace us later. 

If you liked our article, “UX Designer vs. Product Designer How the Roles Differ” you will love some of our other content! Check out our blog to learn more!

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