Product Design vs. UX Design: Differences and Similarities

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 29, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Pursuing a career in design may provide you with a variety of opportunities. This includes decisions about what types of projects you want to work on or what aspects of the design process interest you the most. Learning more about some of the common types of design may help you decide what type of career is a good option for you to choose.

In this article, we define what a product designer is, explain what a UX designer is and discuss some of the similarities and differences between product design versus UX design.

What is a product designer?

A product designer is a design professional who may complete a variety of tasks throughout the initial design process. They may have responsibilities similar to full-stack, UX and UI designers, and their duties may include coding and project management tasks. Product designers develop solutions through test plans, wireframes and A/B testing to resolve issues and ensure complete synergy between a product and a brand. They may also support developers during launch phases, particularly with solving problems that may occur.

Related: How To Become a Product Designer (With FAQs)

What is a UX designer?

A UX designer is a design professional who specializes in ensuring designs are easy for users to interact with and satisfy their needs. They work throughout the entire design thinking process to identify ways to improve a product's accessibility and usability. They're people-driven, and their work requires a user's mindset to explore all ways a person may interact with a product and find solutions to issues they may experience. While they're irresponsible for creating products that align with business goals, they're primarily responsible for ensuring they deliver a final product that's completely optimized for users.

Related: What Is UX Design? And How To Become a UX Designer

Product design vs. UX design

Here are some of the similarities and differences between product design versus UX design:

Similarities

Some similarities between UX design and product design include:

Approach

Product design and UX design both involve participating in the design thinking process. While both types of design may have different goals, they both maintain a human-centered approach throughout the process. It's worth noting, however, that product design may focus more on the initial design process stages and UX design encompasses the entire design process.

Related: The UX Design Process in 5 Steps

Tools

UX designers and product designers often use the same tools. For example, they may use wireframing tools to create simple outlines of what a product, website or application interface may look like. Both types of designers may also use mapping software to better evaluate users' needs and assess how well their planned design may meet them.

Related: What Is a Wireframe and Why Is It Important in UX?

Differences

Some differences between UX design versus product design include:

Priorities

While product designers and UX designers both aim to create the best possible product, they may have slightly different priorities. Product design involves assessing entire business aspects related to the product and looking for solutions that occur throughout the design process. UX design, however, focuses more on maximizing the usability of the product to ensure users receive the best possible product. This may lead to identifying problems throughout the design process for product designers to resolve.

Related: UI vs. UX Designer: What's the Difference?

Skills

While product design and UX design may require some of the same skills, they ultimately require different skill sets. Here are some important skills for product designers to have:

  • Business skills

  • Coding

  • Collaboration

  • Communication skills

  • Creative thinking

  • Critical thinking

  • Data science

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Leadership

  • Planning and strategizing

  • Product design

  • Problem-solving

  • Project management

  • Prototyping and wireframing

  • Research

  • Teamwork

Here are some important skills for a UX designer to have:

  • Collaboration

  • Communication skills

  • Creativity

  • Critical thinking

  • Data analysis

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Graphic design

  • Interaction design

  • Project management

  • Prototyping and wireframing

  • Public speaking

  • Research

  • Technical skills

Read more: Top 10 Skills for UX Designers

Responsibilities

Exact responsibilities may vary, but some common responsibilities for product designers include:

  • Collaborating with marketing and sales professionals to position a product in the market

  • Creating product strategies to improve business opportunities

  • Defining product roadmaps

  • Identifying ways to improve products and keep them relevant within markets

  • Monitoring budgets throughout design and development processes

  • Performing competitor, market and user research

  • Working with UX designers to improve customer experiences

Conversely, some common duties for UX designers include:

  • Collaborating with product teams to create new features and products

  • Conducting usability testing and competitor, market and user research

  • Creating mockups and wireframes when designing user interfaces

  • Designing information architecture to enhance feature and product usability

  • Developing empathy and journey maps and user personas to understand user experience

  • Preparing prototypes of features and products

Read more: What Does a UX Designer Do?

Role on a team

Although both designers factor business needs and goals into their approach, many organizations often expect product designers to have a stronger understanding of them. As a result, they're often tasked with leading projects. They may also collaborate with a greater variety of people than a UX designer might.

Related: How To Become a Successful Team Leader

Salary

Based on salary information from Indeed Salaries, UX designers earn slightly more than product designers. It reports that the national average salary for a product designer is $89,335 per year, whereas the national average salary for a UX designer is $92,861 per year. It's important to remember that exact salaries for both jobs may vary based on factors like experience, education, geographic location, qualifications and the specific employer.

Related: 15 of the Highest Paying Graphic Design Jobs

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the links provided.

Research

While both types of design involve research, the designers may have different priorities. Product designers may test existing products or new features and research potential business opportunities. UX designers, however, focus their research more on user testing and behavior.

Related: UX Research: What It Is and How To Conduct It

Testing

UX design and product design both require testing, but they require testing at different times and with different goals. UX designers perform usability testing before launching the product. Product design, however, often involves testing existing products to look for opportunities or testing newly designed interfaces.

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