Product Designer vs. UX Designer: Similar skill sets, different responsibilities

We identified that there seemed to be an ongoing misunderstanding within the design community on the real differences between Product Designers and UX Designers. Therefore, Bonanza design decided to respond to the following question for you:

What does a product designer do, and how is that different from the role of a UX Designer?

Let us break down the differences between the two in this article by defining both terms:


 

PRODUCT DESIGNER

The real value of the role of a product design gets highlighted especially in bigger organizations that there’s a need for constant innovation and value creation. A design department of a big organization often has to cater to different teams to fulfil their several needs. The needs vary. It could be

  • updating screens of the features that are currently running due to the change in specification
  • conducting usability testing
  • conducting customer/user interviews
  • prototyping new features
  • pixel perfect design of new features
  • creating design system

Some design departments are overburdened with so much day to day tasks that they don’t have the capacity to conduct new needs discoveries. And some design departments don’t even recognize the importance of conducting discoveries and often outsource the job to product managers.

In a true sense, a product designer works hand-in-hand with the product manager and development lead. They contribute to product discovery with a never-ending search to identify new customer needs, to then try to address them through your product’s features. As a result, a product designer must know a lot more about how the business finances itself, operates and delivers products and services, does marketing and creates desires, and hacks growth.

A product designer runs between different departments and should be able to align different stakeholders, bring them all together, work with them, facilitate workshops and drive decisions.

Moreover, they have to excel in conducting market research, user research, and working with data to leverage it and make informed decisions.

But most importantly, a product designer must know how to prototype fast, design experiments around it, and test them with potential users and customers. And this is a crucial role of a product designer. They’re essential growth hackers and often can think of quick experiments to validate business and product hypotheses.

 


 

UX DESIGNER

The definition of the roles can vary amongst organizations. Sometimes a UX designer does the job of a product designer. In our view, a UX designer designs the depth of the experience whereas a product designer discovers new needs and validates them. Then that’s where a product designer passes on the validated idea to a UX designer for further development of the idea.

A UX designer could be working in a team containing product managers and dev teams to continuously improve the core function of a product e.g. a UX designer role can be to improve the checkout of a product continuously. In this case, a UX designer may not be asked to contribute to the product discovery of the product at large. Their focus is to improve the KPIs around the checkout module.

A UX designer is required to prototype a solution, and of course, test them as well as to conduct more in-depth user interviews. Other tasks associated with being a UX designer include usability testing, the creation of a design system, as well as doing handovers to the development team.

 


In small companies, these two roles are often intertwined. Startups bet usually on their idea to work or not. And usually, the job of a UX designer is to curate the experience of the product idea. When a company gets bigger and then innovation becomes a real issue and competitive advantage. For such companies, the role of a product designer is highly crucial.

We hope this summary helps you gain a clear understanding of the difference between these two roles. Follow us on social media, we always publish useful content on a regular cadence.

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