Product Designer vs UX Designer: Who to Hire?

Kateryna Mayka

Product designer or UX designer? Employers that are searching for a design specialist to join their teams have trobles in understanding who they need to hire. Even people that are working in the design industry for quite a long can't reach a consensus when discussing the "Product Designer vs UX Designer" topic, as the responsibilities of these two roles overlap a lot.

Eleken is a team of product designers. Working in this profession means being able to do a lot of stuff. At some points, you have to be a visual designer, researcher, marketer, analytic, psychologist, and a bit product owner. In general, the distinctive feature of a product designer is they are business-oriented.

In its turn, a UX designer has more specific design responsibilities. They strive to create the best customer experience and that's why user needs are always at the forefront for them.

To decide which expert you need to hire, outline the tasks you want the designer to accomplish, then check which of the two professions meet your requirements better.

To help you with this challenging task, in this blog post, we will discuss:

  • The essence of the job of a UX designer and of a product designer
  • Сommon and distinctive features of both professions
  • The responsibilities of both occupations

UX designer overview

To understand what is the difference between a UX designer and a product designer we should,  first of all, understand the specifications of each occupation in particular. Let's start with the user experience designers.

From the job title itself, we can understand that a priority of a UX designer is creating an outstanding experience for customers. After all, the experience of the clients for whom we create products determines the success of the service and business in general.

UX designers strive to make a product usable and accessible for the end-customer. The scope of their work includes the research, the formation of ideas and concepts, creating wireframes, building prototypes, and conduct tests. To find a solution for the design problem a UX designer invests a lot of time in studying the customer, their motivation, and emotions.

Product designer overview

A product designer is a full-stack designer responsible for owning all aspects of product design including product ideation, building a design system, and UI/UX details.

This specialist identifies product problems with the help of analytics and research, develop effective solutions through prototyping, and implement changes taking into account the product's business strategy.

For those purposes, they combine the roles of a number of professions like UX designer, graphic designer, researcher, analyst, prototyper, marketer, and business strategist.

Product designers cooperate closely with developers, marketers, and other designers to understand, envision, and influence products and their strategy and as a result, create a market impact.

Product designers need to have a business sharpness to understand the pricing models and strategies, as well as the main metrics of the product viability to develop such design decisions that lead to the product's growth.

Сommon and distinctive features

At this point, you may understand that both UX designers and product designers have much in common and the duties they perform are very similar. Still, there should be a reason we use different words to describe these jobs, right?

Next, we will figure out the main similarities and differences between these professions.

Similarities

Here are some clear similarities between both occupations:

Product design process

First of all, UX and product designers take the same steps when designing a product. That is, they use the same product design process with its main focus on customer needs.

When designing a product designers conduct market and user research to find the main problems of the product, develop various concepts, and visualize them through prototyping. Then both designers test prototypes to understand what works well and what requires improvements and refine the product if needed.

Methods

Since the product design process is the same for both occupations, the UX and product visual design methods and deliverables are also identical.

To gather all the needed data at the research phase both designers conduct market analysis, competitive audit, and user interviews. Then in a team, they brainstorm to create various ideas and visualize those ideas with the help of customer journey maps, user flows, mood boards, sketches, and wireframes. Finally, designers validate different concepts, build prototypes, and test them with the A/B testing method, usability testing, etc.

Tools

Consequently, the tools both professionals use for those methods also don't differ.

UX and product designers use MIRO for brainstorming and building user flows, Sketch or Balsamiq for wireframes, and Figma, Adobe XD, Invision, or Framer for prototypes.

To sum up, three main things that both designers have in common are the design process they go through, and the methods and tools they use to develop a product.

Differences

Despite all the things they have in common, here are key differences between these occupations:

Focus

UX designers and product designers differ in the priorities they have.

The main focus of a UX designer is the customer experience. This specialist cares about the usability, and the emotions it evokes in customers. UX designer strives to create a clear UI and a smooth UX that allows clients to reach their objectives as quickly and efficiently as possible.

In their turn, besides user needs, product designers have a deeper focus on business needs. They think about how to make the product suitable both for the client and current market requirements. The role of a designer in product development is to make it cost-effective. Product designers care about company goals as well as client needs.

Skillset

As we've already stated a product designer is a versatile specialist and the responsibilities of a UX designer are more specific. That's the first one has a wider range of skills than the second.

The product designer is supposed to work with engineers and keep track if the developed product meets the concept created in the prototype. They cooperate with marketers to provide consistency between the brand and the product. That's why a product designer needs to know how to communicate with people from different departments.

Check the Product Designer Job Description to learn more about product designers' skillset.

UX designer has a deeper understanding of user research methods. They are more skillful in collecting and analyzing customer's feedback.

Salary

Both job positions offer high and competitive pay. Though, a more diverse skillset of a product designer leads to a more diverse list of responsibilities. Which results in a difference between salaries.

Glassdoor says that the average pay of a UX designer in the US is about $85 thousand per year.

How much does a UX designer get?

While the average base salary for a product designer in the US is almost $88 thousand per year.

product designer salary

How much money does a product designer make? This sum vary from location, organization, and type of project but in general, product designers receive a bit higher payment because of higher demand.

With a general understanding of both jobs, their common and distinctive features, let's take a look at their responsibilities.

UX designer's duties

After analyzing job posts from LinkedIn we formulated the following duties of working as a UX designer:

  • Create thoughtful sketches, comprehensive wireframes, and high-fidelity prototypes to present to key stakeholders throughout the product development process
  • Conduct usability testing and research
  • Identify and troubleshoot UX problems based on qualitative data and feedback
  • Cooperate with other designers, researchers, product managers, engineering, and customers to design simple and elegant products

Product designer's responsibilities

Now let's take a look at what a product designer is supposed to do to perform their duties.

  • Create beautiful, simple, and intuitive experiences, defining the needs of the customers
  • Work with engineers and product managers to define both the long-term strategy and the short-term tactics for the products
  • Give and solicit feedback from end-users to constantly raise the quality of the product
  • Cooperate with Product and Engineering to supervise the user experience of a product from conception until launch
  • Perform design reviews and confidently communicate decision-making rationale to team members and stakeholders at all levels of the organization
  • Explore concepts, narrow to the best solution. Use the best formats and fidelities for the work.

As you can see, the key duties of a UX designer and a product designer prove that they have many commonalities. Both jobs certainly need a high level of design skill. Still, while the job of the product designer needs decision-making skills and marketing sharpness, the UX designer job requires more specific responsibilities like research and building wireframes.

Conclusion

We hope that now you have a clearer understanding of the essence of both professions and can see the difference between a UX designer and a product designer.

So, it's time to take a pen and a piece of paper and make a list of requirements for your project. Once you are ready compare this list with the key responsibilities of both types of designers and start your search!

After all, no matter whom you will choose, we believe that when a designer creates and improves the product according to user feedback and understand the needs of your specific business, formally it does not matter what job title they have in the resume.

If you are looking for designers that can both design a great experience for users and take into account your business needs, reach out to us for a free consultation.

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