Product managers and product designers are two critical positions in any company that designs and sells physical products. And while the two roles may have some overlap, they are pretty different. So, what exactly is the difference between a product designer vs. product manager? Read this article to find out.
What is a product designer?
A product designer is responsible for the look and feel of a product. They develop the initial concept and design and then oversee the development process to ensure that the product meets their vision. Although typically associated with the visual aspects of a product, product designers research users, understand their needs and develop solutions that solve real-world problems.
A good product designer has a strong sense of aesthetics and an eye for detail. It is the product designer's job to translate their vision into a design that can be manufactured and meets the needs of the people who will be using the product. In a nutshell, the product designer's job is to ensure the best user experience and achieve business goals despite technical constraints.
What is a product manager?
Product managers are responsible for the business perspective of the product. They are business advocates in charge of developing and executing the product development strategy. This strategy includes everything from user research to competitive data analysis to pricing.
Product managers create a product development strategy based on user feedback and make all necessary documentation and knowledge-based preparation, roadmap creation, teamwork setup, task assignment, and acceptance criteria description.
A good product manager has strong business acumen and can make data-driven decisions to promote product success. In addition, they must also communicate the vision for a product clearly and then rally the team around that vision.
What are the critical responsibilities of product designers?
The key responsibilities of product designers include the following:
- Coming up with the initial concept and design for a product (e.g. physical or digital products) from user research methods
- Providing necessary sketches of products in development
- Overseeing the development process to ensure that the product considers user experience
- Working with the engineering team to ensure that the company can manufacture the product designed
- Creating prototypes and mockups of the product
- Designing user journey maps for the best user experience
- Testing the product to ensure that it meets the needs of the people who will be using it
- Collaborating with marketers and PR specialists on the promotion stage
What are the critical responsibilities of a product manager?
The product manager's job includes the following:
- Developing and executing the strategy for a product based on different research methods
- Doing market research and competitive data analysis of product
- Determining the pricing of products compared to the competition
- Work with the design team in creating marketing plans
- Managing the team that is responsible for developing and designing the product
What are the skills to look for in a product designer?
Unlike developers, the expertise and skills of product designers are much more comprehensive, and companies require them at every stage of product development. So your product designer must have the following skills:
UX/ UI design thinking skills
UX design is about identifying and solving user problems, while UI design is about creating intuitive, aesthetically pleasing, interactive interfaces. UX design usually comes first in product development, followed by UI design.
Having a deep understanding of what users want to accomplish, their pain points, and how a product makes them feel is a core design component.
Technical skills are the "hard skills" you need to accomplish a task. Typically, these are the skills that designers learn in design class. For example: using Adobe Illustrator to prepare a file for laser cutting.
Although product designers are not expected to write code, product designers must also have technical skills. These skills include wireframing and prototyping, conducting research, and testing product features. And they must also be familiar with prototyping tools, including Framer, Principle, or Figma.
Leadership or project management skills
Project management skills are a person's competencies and traits to coordinate a project from start to finish effectively. A project manager leads a project team using good communication, interpersonal skills, motivational skills, and organization.
As the product designer is directly responsible for overseeing a product's development, they must have leadership or project management skills to ensure that the project stays on track.
What are the skills to look for in a product manager?
When looking for a product manager, you should look for someone with the following:
Strong business acumen
Product management insight is associated with your ability to grasp every aspect of a product's business. This insight includes markets, people, systems, finances, performance measures, and processes. The term also describes the attributes of strategic-thinking problem solvers who get things done in a complex organization.
The ability to make data-driven decisions
Product managers must be able to make decisions based on data and analytics rather than gut feeling. They should be able to use data to identify trends and user behavior patterns and then use that information to make decisions about the product roadmap.
Excellent Communication skills
Product managers must communicate effectively with stakeholders, including engineers, designers, marketers, salespeople, and customers. They should be able to clearly articulate the product vision and explain the rationale behind their decisions.
Product managers must be able to prioritize and manage different tasks, often with competing deadlines. In addition, they should be able to create and maintain detailed product roadmaps and schedules and track progress against those plans.
Product managers also assign tasks to other team members and ensure that the team completes the tasks on schedule.
What is the difference between a product designer and a product manager?
A product designer is responsible for the initial concept and design of a product and overseeing the development process to ensure that the product meets its vision. A product manager is responsible for the business side of things and is in charge of developing and executing the strategy for a product. This task includes everything from market research to competitive analysis to pricing. A good product manager has strong business acumen and can make data-driven decisions. In addition, they must communicate the vision clearly and rally the team around it.
Although both product designers and product managers have different roles to fill in product development, they are equally crucial in creating the success criteria of the product.
What is the difference between a product manager vs project manager?
Product managers organize and oversee the development of a product from start to finish, while project managers coordinate specific tasks within a larger project. Product managers are accountable for the business value of their team's output. In addition, they are in charge of developing and executing the product strategy. This task includes everything from market research to competitive analysis to pricing. On the other hand, product designers are responsible for coordinating different functions within a project. These tasks can include developing a project schedule to assigning tasks to team members.
Can a product designer work as a product manager?
Yes, a product designer can work as a product manager. Product designers are responsible for the user experience of a product, usually taking direction on the business goals and objectives from the product management team. On the other hand, product managers are responsible for the business side of things. They identify the user needs and the larger business objectives that a product or feature will fulfill, articulates what product delights customers, and rallies a team to validate ideas and turn them into a reality.
Product designers may have only some of the necessary skills to be successful product managers, but they can certainly learn them. The most important thing for a product designer who wants to become a product manager is to have a strong desire to learn about the business side of product management and to be able to make data-driven decisions. In addition, they must be excellent communicators and be able to rally the team around the product vision.
What are the significant areas in product design?
There are four significant areas in product design:
User research is the methodic study of target users, including their needs and pain points, so the UX team can have the sharpest possible insights to work with to make the best designs. UX researchers use various methods to expose problems and design opportunities and find crucial information to use in their design thinking process.
Usability testing is a technique to evaluate how easy or difficult users find a company's product. UX designers apply usability testing to gauge the intuitiveness or user-friendliness of other aspects of the customer experience, such as navigating a website or completing a trial download.
User interface (UI) design is the process designers use to build interfaces in software or computerized devices, focusing on looks or style. Designers aim to create interfaces that users find easy to use and pleasurable. UI design refers to graphical user interfaces and other forms, e.g. voice-controlled interfaces.
Visual design improves a product's aesthetic appeal and usability with suitable images, typography, space, layout, and color. However, it is more than about aesthetics. Design teams place elements carefully to create interfaces that optimize the user experience and drive conversion.
What are the significant areas in product management?
There are four significant areas in product management:
Market research is how product managers gather information about user needs and market drivers. You need to perform customer interviews to collect customer data to make a decision. Competitive analysis is a subset of market research.
Competitor analysis (also called competitive research) assesses the strengths and weaknesses of companies offering products similar to yours. This research can help you confirm your value proposition, which is the unique value you provide and how your product stands out from others like it.
A pricing strategy is a model or method to establish the best price for a product or service. It helps you choose prices to maximize profits and shareholder value while considering consumer and market demand.
A product roadmap is a shared source of truth that outlines a product's vision, direction, priorities, and progress over time. It's a plan of action that aligns the organization around short and long-term goals for the product or project and how the company can achieve them.
What are the types of product designers?
Three types of product designers contribute to the design process:
User experience (UX) designers create designs that focus on the user's needs and how they interact with a product. They use their user research, usability testing, and interface design skills to create products that users respond to.
User experience designers also address user problems to attract potential users to use the product because of its ease of use. A UX designer is also known as an interaction designer because they create an interaction design of the product to achieve business goals.
User interface (UI) designers focus on the look and feel of a product's interface. They use their visual design and typography skills to create interfaces that users find attractive and pleasurable.
Visual designers focus on the aesthetics of a product. They use their skills in color, layout, and typography to create products that are visually appealing and easy to use.
Where do I find a good product designer?
There are a few places you can look for a good product designer:
- Online job boards:
- Freelance websites:
- Company websites:
- Portfolio websites:
- Personal networks:
Sometimes, the best way to find a suitable product designer is to ask around in your network. Someone you know may have a connection to help you find the right person for the job.
- Design Match
Signing up for Design Match can save the time and effort you spend looking for a good product designer. Rather than wasting time looking for the perfect product designer, Design Match can match you up with a product designer with your specifications and your budget. And best of all, you only have to pay Design Match something once you start working with your product designer.
There are many places you can look for a good product designer. You can search job boards, freelance websites, company websites, or portfolio websites online. You can also ask around in your network. Or you can sign up for Design Match to be matched with a product designer that meets your specifications and budget.
Regarding product design, choosing a pricing strategy that maximizes profits and shareholder value while considering consumer and market demand is essential. And finally, a product roadmap is a shared source of truth that outlines a product's vision, direction, priorities, and progress over time.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.