What Is a Product Designer? (With Responsibilities)

Updated 7 June 2023

Product designers translate consumer needs into product designs and improve existing designs. They play a vital role in the product development stage and oversee the entire design process. Understanding the responsibilities and skills of a product designer can help you decide if you want to pursue this career. In this article, we answer the question 'What is a product designer?', describe their responsibilities and outline key skills for this role.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

What is a product designer?

Product designers are individuals who oversee the design of a product from inception to completion, with an emphasis on user needs and business goals. They use different design tools to develop and implement solutions to problems that users have with a product. They focus not only on the visual aspects of a product but may also contribute to its information architecture and system design. Product designers ensure products are relevant, user-friendly and functional. They also meet business objectives by making sure products are cost-effective and offer a good return on clients' investment.

At bigger companies, there may be large teams dedicated to products, allowing product designers to work with project managers, user interface (UI) designers and developers. Product designers at smaller companies and start-ups may also perform UI, user experience (UX), coding and project management.

Related: Product Designer vs. UX Designer: A Complete Guide

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Product designer responsibilities

The following are the typical responsibilities of a product designer:

Research user needs and analyse competitors

Product designers perform user research to understand the problems consumers are encountering, identify opportunities for new products and seek to understand users' motivations, aspirations and goals. Along with product managers, UX researchers and other key individuals, product designers analyse how a new product meets market needs and consumer preferences. They then determine the key performance indicators for a project to measure the success of possible solutions. Product designers also perform competitor analysis to understand the strengths and weaknesses of competitors and to find out if there are gaps in the market, such as in product offerings, location or pricing.

Related: What Does a UI Designer Do? (With Role, Skills and Salary)

Create designs and prototypes

After understanding users' problems with a product, product designers brainstorm solutions with their team and produce first drafts. They set and communicate design requirements based on briefs from clients and internal teams. Product designers develop ideas into creative and elegant designs in accordance with a defined set of design principles. They also determine the overall aesthetics and visual style of a product. They may sketch drafts on paper or digitally using computer-aided design software. They also create wireframes, which are low-fidelity mock-ups to quickly draft solutions for testing. Wireframes also serve as blueprints for higher-fidelity designs.

Product designers build prototypes to illustrate different design approaches and to conduct testing. They may use 3D-modelling software to design physical products and components. In this case, they're also responsible for selecting materials, colours and textures, using 3D printers for prototyping or recommending other production methods. Product designers also typically maintain the design library of a product suite for future reference.

Conduct tests

Product designers work closely with UX researchers to recruit the correct user segment to test the designs. The goal is to test the solution through moderated sessions to collect valuable feedback from users. Product designers also use proper methodology to ensure that they obtain unbiased data. Some of the methods include tree testing, A/B testing, surveys, interviews and live Betas. Through testing, product designers collect important information about issues with usability and discoverability that they can use at the next stage to produce a more user-friendly design.

Related: What Does a UX Designer Do? Duties, Skills, Salary and FAQs

Revise designs

Product designers utilise feedback from users at the testing stage to make design decisions. They consider which aspects of a product to change to effectively solve the problems that users face. They may operate at high-level design, which involves designing the overall system or information architecture, and they may also work on minute details, such as pixel-specific mock-ups or Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) templates. Product designers collaborate closely with their team members at this stage and may make multiple design revisions until the product is to their satisfaction.

Launch products

After finalising a design, product designers work with the engineering team to build the solution. They also collaborate with the quality assurance team to ensure that the solution is free from bugs and design flaws. Product designers support developers through the launch process and work with marketing teams to make sure there's synergy between the brand and the product.

Evaluate and iterate products

Product designers continue to be in charge of a product after its launch and monitor pre-determined datasets to evaluate its success. They use this data to make decisions on areas to work on in the next iteration of the design. Product designers also run tests to ensure user satisfaction with the product. With the addition of new product features and functions, they evaluate whether the user experience is intuitive and develop solutions to any problems. Once a product is mature, product designers increase its efficiency, such as by improving page-load speeds.

Maintain design standards

Product designers also help implement design tools and processes to simplify and increase the speed of the workflow. They maintain design standards for the team by organising design critiques and reviews to share their expertise. They also mentor junior designers and assess the quality of their work.

Product designer skills

Here are essential skills for product designers:

Proficiency in UI and UX design

UI and UX design skills are necessary for product designers to enable them to make products more appealing and interactive and to enhance the overall user experience. These individuals understand how to use language relevant to the product's brand identity and create animations for interactive products. UI and UX design skills also include proficiency in industry-standard design prototyping tools and the creation of wireframes, mock-ups, sitemaps and UI style guides.

Related: Product Design Skills: Definition and Examples

Frontend design skills

It's essential for product designers to know frontend programming languages, such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, as they may perform coding and create digital assets, such as logos, icons and buttons. Frontend design skills may also be necessary to develop product software. Having such skills can also enable product designers to work more effectively with developers.

Related: Front-End Developer Skills: Definition and Examples

Visual design skills

Visual design skills are crucial for product designers to enable them to define the aesthetics of a product. These skills include an understanding of typography, hierarchy, grid systems and colour theory. They also entail proficiency in visual design tools, such as Figma, Sketch and Adobe Creative Suite.

Project management

To succeed in their role, product designers have the ability to strategise and execute a vision. They're able to develop timelines and budgets, monitor the progress of their team's work and track expenses effectively. Project management also entails managing risks, such as factoring and handling delays or unavailability of materials.

Related: How to Improve Project Management Skills (Plus Tips)


As product designers work with clients, management and team members, the ability to communicate their research findings, design ideas and goals is essential for this position. With effective communication skills, they can build positive relationships with their team and create an environment where members feel comfortable expressing their ideas and giving and receiving feedback. Communication skills are also useful when conducting presentations and negotiating timelines and budgets with clients.

Related: Verbal Communication Examples (With Benefits and Tips)


Problem-solving skills are crucial to enable product designers to identify issues and find solutions to achieve user satisfaction. They use these skills to observe, test and improve processes of product design. Being competent problem-solvers also enables them to eliminate errors in the product design.

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