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How To Become A Product Designer?

Vladislav Gavriluk

Vladislav Gavriluk

CEO & Founder at Arounda

Product designer is in the first line of highly demanded jobs in 2023, according to the list by Career Foundry. This creative and versatile profession is associated with the newest IT technologies, intellectual labor, intense teamwork, and decent salaries. Are you are considering a product designer career? Do you want to learn more about the workflow and the opportunities? Then, you are in the right place.  

Arounda Agency has been in product design for more than five years. Our team comprises product managers, designers, developers, and business analysts. Having completed more than 130 projects covering mobile applications, SaaS, corporate websites, and landing pages, and knowing all ins and outs of digital product development, we will explain the following:

Table of Contents

What Is A Product Designer?

In recent years, product design is mostly applied to the tech industry. It means imagining, creating, and iterating digital goods such as apps, software, and cloud services that solve users' problems or address specific needs in a particular market. Although we must mention that product design can also refer to physical products like cars, furniture, clothes, or other manufacturing outlets. 

A product designer manages the design process from concept creation to implementation and further improvement.

The everyday tasks of a product designer may include: 

  • brainstorming on product names, 

  • creating mock-ups, 

  • researching the market for competitors, 

  • making wireframes and prototypes, 

  • analyzing surveys on MVP (Minimum Vital Product), 

  • building a communication bridge between stakeholders and engineers   

 It's a common stereotype that you have to be born with some unique creativity gen to become a designer. But, in fact, many great specialists came into the field, from programming, education, marketing, graphic design, client support, and whatever!   

The main thing in product design is finding solutions for real people with real tasks and achieving quality results. Usually, a big goal of building a product is split into hundreds of steps, details, and day-to-day working and learning to achieve the aim. So it’s only a matter of time and persistence till you master the required skills.  

What Do You Do As A Product Designer?

Product designers need diverse skillset to create a product that solves users’ problems. Still, we can identify some essential competencies. 

Designing 

The first principal task for the designer is to create a product with features that correspond to consumers’ needs. It may start with sketches in pen and pencil and continue in UI/UX drawing programs, including prototyping in Figma, Invision, or Framer. 

Understanding the User 

Implementing human-centered design practices implies much more than typical user-friendliness. Very often, there is a need for surveys, A/B testing, usability testing, client journey maps, and buyer persona portrait. If the product area is new, the product designer has to dig deep into it and learn the market and the business and develop expertise in the subject.     

Teamwork 

Creating a product is somewhat similar to playing in an orchestra. Product designers collaborate tightly with managers and engineers throughout the product development process. It is also important to comprehend input from stakeholders, understand the roles and responsibilities of other team players and departments, and orient the company's vision and strategy for the product. 

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Looking for a team of practitioners to refine or develop your product? Let`s have a talk.

How To Become A Product Designer?

Building a career as a product designer is a strategy with milestones, gradual achievements, and a long-term perspective. So how long does it take to become a product designer? It might take 3 to 5 years, but if you are both a creative and determined personality, the journey will bring you where you want to be sooner or later. These are its key steps.

1. Earn your high school diploma

High school not only provides basic literacy but develops your cognitive abilities for virtually any career. Product designers' work is highly intellectual, so employers search for well-prepared candidates with a high school diploma or GED. Credits in math, graphic design, and technology will also be a plus to your resume.    

If you want to continue your education, you might search for associate programs which help you cover the tuition fee at university. Big companies like Amazon and Tesla invest in up-and-coming talent worldwide.

2. Earn a bachelor’s degree

Employers have a relaxed demand for a bachelor’s degree. If you have an outstanding portfolio, it might overbeat a university education. But still, a degree in engineering, graphic design, or management will single you out of the queue.   

How to become a product designer without a degree

You might consider going to the boot camp in design or a related field. Tech boot camps offer live and online classes and sometimes provide scholarships and propose job opportunities. This upgrade might last for two weeks or half a year of intensive study when you will get a taste of the work you’re pursuing.  

3. Build your skillset

As designers often think via images, there is a virtual representation of your skillset in the form of a 'T' letter. The vertical line is your focus or specialization, such as graphics design, UI, or research work. And the horizontal line shows how broad your knowledge is, for example, the tools and techniques you have mastered. 

 It doesn't mean you inevitably have to narrow your work to a specific niche. If you are in a small company or a startup, you can act as a multidiscipline specialist and do it all yourself. 

The good question is where to start. Is there a book for newbies, 'How to become a good product designer'? We suggest you begin with The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman, which is the ABC of product design. And if you still want to proceed, you'll need some practical experience.  

 4. Gain experience

How to gain experience if you are not employed as a designer yet? And how to become a product designer with no experience? It might seem a closed loop: no job — no experience, no experience — no job. But there are several ways to overcome this problem. 

Offer your services for free. Help your friends or find a volunteer project where you can design your first flyer or a T-shirt and make a case for your portfolio. If you cope with the job and gain skills as well as recommendations, the next project will be profitable. 

5. Make a portfolio

The best way to persuade an employer to hire you is to showcase the work you can do for them. No matter whether you completed a learning project for yourself, designed an app for your grandma, or finished a big order from a corporate client, document your achievements and save them in a separate folder on your computer. 

 The traditional way to present your design portfolio is to organize an account on Behance, Dribble, or Fiver job portals. There you can find numerous examples for your inspiration. The best portfolios include both prototypes and creation process descriptions. It's also good to tell a story similar to Simon Pan's bikes or Artem Kurenkov's 3D models.

6. Stay updated on trends in the field

When you enter the professional designer community, you constantly think about how to become a better product designer.

  • There are tonnes of professional information in Telegram channels and professional blogs. 

  • You can monitor projects in Dribble and Behance and learn from the best.

  • Designers' exhibitions, forums, and events are great for exchanging experiences. 

  • And of course, you can pull out ideas from world masterpieces in the London National Gallery or in Google Arts & Culture.  

7. Create a resume

The typical A4 resume is a perfect opportunity to show your skills in wrapping a product with only one nuance: in this case, you are the product yourself. The classical tips for writing a selling resume are the following:

  • find a good photo or take a professional one

  • use keywords to highlight your skills

  • build a clear structure with a summary, education, experiences, and skills blocks

  • write about your quantitative results rather than your qualities

  • be short and exact

  • adjust your resume and cover letter for a particular company

Final Thoughts

When searching for a career path, ask yourself what kind of pain you would like to ease up for other people. As a journalist, you might want to deliver breaking and yet true news, as a marketer, your dream of 100% conversion, and product designers are passionate about quality and handy products that fly and add comfort to users' lives. 

Arounda team knows how to create user-oriented digital products that lead our clients to success. You can learn about our projects from the portfolio. So if you are looking for inspiration, mentorship, or assistance in product design, just drop us a line.

Vladislav Gavriluk
Vladislav Gavriluk
CEO & Founder at Arounda
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.

Frequently asked questions

  • What are some job titles for product designers?

    Depending on the specialization area, product designers have dozens of titles. For instance, UI Designer, UX Designer, UI/UX Engineer, UX Researcher, Information Architect, etc. But you don't need to play the guessing game what is the difference until you get the general notion about the product designer's work.

  • Are there product design certifications to earn?

    Your degree in engineering, graphic design, or management will demonstrate your qualification to the employer. We also recommend adding boot camps, product design courses, or internships to your certificate folder.

  • How else can I build my skill set?

    Besides books, open web resources, paid courses, and day-to-day practice, there is a powerful practice of mentorship to help you evolve. For example, if there is a senior product designer in your team or among acquaintances, try to interest them in sharing experiences on some partnership basis.

  • What is the work environment like for product designers?

    Product designers can work remotely or in the office, have a full-time job, or part-time occupation, or run single projects. It all depends on your preferences and agreements with employees.

  • How much does a product designer make a year?

    The annual designer’s salary depends on the region. For example, Indeed reports the average salary for a product designer in the United States of $89,543 per year in 2022. And PayScale estimates the average base salary for a product designer in Germany at €46,782 per year.

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