5 Key Differences Between UX Designers and Product Designers

5
minute read

While user experience (UX) designers and product designers share some common goals and principles, there are some key differences between the two fields. In this article, we'll explore 5 key differences between UX designers and product designers in more detail, with examples and bullet points where appropriate.

1. Scope of work

One of the main differences between UX designers and product designers is the scope of their work. UX designers focus on the overall user experience of a product, including the user interface, the functionality, and the performance. Their goal is to create products that are easy to use, intuitive, and satisfying for users.

  • UX designers conduct user research to gain a deep understanding of the needs and wants of users.
  • They create wireframes and prototypes to visualize and test their designs.
  • They use user testing and iteration to refine their designs and improve the user experience.

On the other hand, product designers focus on the visual design and functionality of a product. They are responsible for creating the look, feel, and usability of a product, and work closely with engineering, product management, and marketing teams to define the product's requirements and features.

  • Product designers use visual design tools and techniques, such as color, typography, and layout, to create aesthetically pleasing products.
  • They create wireframes and prototypes to visualize and test the product's functionality and user flow.
  • They collaborate with other teams to ensure that the product's design aligns with the product's requirements and branding.

2. Tools and techniques

Another key difference between UX designers and product designers is the tools and techniques they use. UX designers often use user research, wireframing, and prototyping to create effective and user-friendly designs. They may also conduct user testing and iterate on their designs based on feedback.

  • UX designers may use tools such as survey software, user interviews, and usability testing to conduct user research.
  • They may use tools such as Axure, Balsamiq and InVision to create wireframes and prototypes.
  • They may use tools such as UserTesting.com, Optimal Workshop, and Hotjar to conduct user testing and gather feedback on their designs.

Product designers, on the other hand, often use visual design, wireframing, and user testing to create effective and user-friendly products. They may also use tools such as Adobe Creative Suite, Sketch, and InVision to create visual designs and prototypes.

  • Product designers may use tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and XD to create visual designs and graphics.
  • They may use tools such as Sketch, Figma, and InVision to create wireframes and prototypes.

3. Collaboration

UX designers and product designers often work closely together, but their roles and responsibilities may differ in terms of collaboration. UX designers may collaborate with other teams, such as engineering and product management, to ensure that their designs are functional and feasible.

  • UX designers may collaborate with engineering teams to ensure that the product's design is feasible and can be implemented in the product's code.
  • They may collaborate with product management teams to ensure that the product's design aligns with the product's vision and roadmap.
  • They may also collaborate with other UX designers to share ideas and best practices, and learn from each other's experiences.

Product designers, on the other hand, may collaborate more closely with marketing and sales teams to ensure that their designs align with the product's branding and positioning. They may also collaborate with UX designers to incorporate UX principles into their designs.

  • Product designers may collaborate with marketing teams to ensure that the product's design aligns with the product's branding and positioning.
  • They may collaborate with sales teams to understand the product's target audience and create designs that appeal to them.
  • They may also collaborate with UX designers to incorporate UX principles into their designs, such as usability, accessibility, and user flow.

4. Career paths

The career paths for UX designers and product designers may also differ. UX designers may have backgrounds in psychology, sociology, human-computer interaction, or design. They may also have UX-specific certifications or degrees, such as a Master's in UX Design.

  • UX designers may start their careers as user researchers, user testers, or interaction designers.
  • They may then progress to UX designer roles, where they design the overall user experience of a product.
  • They may also specialize in areas such as UX strategy, UX writing, or UX research, and focus on specific industries or user groups.

Digital product designers may have backgrounds in design, graphic design, or computer science. They may also have design-specific certifications or degrees, such as a Bachelor's in Product Design.

  • Product designers may start their careers as graphic designers, visual designers, or user interface designers.
  • They may then progress to product designer roles, where they design the look, feel, and functionality of a product.
  • They may also specialize in areas such as mobile design, web design, or software design, and focus on specific platforms or industries.

5. Salary and job outlook

Finally, there may be differences in salary and job outlook between UX designers and digital product designers. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a UX designer is $95,277 per year, while the average salary for a product designer is $70,971 per year.

  • UX designers may earn higher salaries than product designers, due to the complexity and scope of their work.
  • However, salary may vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and industry.
  • UX designers and product designers may also earn bonuses, commissions, and other forms of compensation, such as stock options or 401(k) contributions.

In terms of job outlook, UX design is a growing field, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a 13% growth in UX design jobs from 2019 to 2029. Product design is also a growing field, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a 4% growth in graphic design jobs from 2019 to 2029.

  • The demand for UX designers is expected to increase as more companies recognize the importance of user experience in their products and services.
  • The demand for digital product designers is also expected to increase as more companies create products and seek to improve their design and functionality.
  • However, job outlook may vary depending on factors such as location, industry, and the state of the economy.

About the author

Steve Coppola is a user experience & digital marketing professional - and founder of Input UX. With over 25 years of agency experience, he has worked with many of the world's most respected brands in various capacities including UI/UX design, customer research, usability testing, and front end development.
Find out more about Input UX

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