Here’s an often overlooked fact: Businesses that focus on product design can significantly improve revenue. In fact, a study done by McKinsey shows that businesses embracing design generate 32% more revenue than industry counterparts.
So how does product design really impact sales?
Let’s shed light on that question and untangle the confusion faced by businesses looking to hire UX, UI, and product designers. With overlapping skill sets, how are they different from each other?
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Read on to find out.
What Is The Difference Between UX & Product Design?
Due to the fact that UX is still a relatively new market, many similar terms (such as Head of UX or Lead Product Designer) are used interchangeably without any sort of formal definition. The result of this is that a lot of people are not aware of the differences between the two titles, which often leads to confusion.
It is also possible that the difference between these titles is also influenced by the company's own definitions of them. As some companies choose to call them UX designers, the truth is that those in this position are actually performing the responsibilities of a product designer or may have more of a focus on interface design as opposed to UX design. In the end, it really depends on the specifics of the job as specified by the employer.
In order to gain a deeper understanding of the product design field, we can view it as an umbrella that encompasses product design, user experience design (UX) and user interface design (UI) [including patterns and visual design], and user research.
In recent years, product design has become an increasingly popular topic so there are a lot more companies posting product design roles as a result of the example set by major tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter.
Understanding Product Design
The title of product designer implies that the designer owns the product from the very beginning and makes sure that they are there from the start of the product's design and its initial implementation. As a role, product design heavily involves many elements of the first double diamond of UX with some crossover with the second diamond. This includes primary research, secondary research, ideation and implementation, as well as discovering opportunity areas and gathering insights.
Essentially, UX aims to provide a solution that will significantly improve the user's experience on any device. It is highly reliant on research and takes a more holistic approach in order to provide the solution. UX has to be about user research first and foremost, as you are advocating on behalf of the user's needs and challenges.
The one crucial difference that has separated these two roles is that product designers, by the official definition, care more about the long-term strategy and how the product will serve to achieve key business goals as opposed to UX, which is hyper-focused on the specific needs of the users and designing for a positive customer experience.
In the ever-evolving job market where companies are increasingly expecting designers to possess skills in both UI and UX, we often hear the term 'product designer' applied to those design specialists who possess both skill sets simultaneously.
As the market is changing and growing, we are seeing fewer companies looking for UI designers as they increasingly expect designers to be able to perform all UI and UX tasks within an organization. By proxy, many professionals entering this role will be expected to fulfill product design level responsibilities.
It is important to remember when we are defining our expectations that product designers are responsible for not only how the experience looks but also what it does and how it works. Best-in-class product designers are increasingly expected to know elements of animation, prototyping, coding, research, visual design, and interaction design.
A typical career roadmap for someone working under this role is that, initially, they may be hired as a UX/UI designer, and then six months down the line, they are then promoted to the title of product designer.
From here, they begin to own every part of the product’s lifecycle, from concepts through to creating high-fidelity wireframes. The visual designers that they were working with six months prior are now much more focused on supporting the efforts of marketing.
In terms of the pay difference between these overlapping roles, product designers tend to get paid a little bit more than UX designers, who themselves typically earn more than UI designers. It’s worth noting that these UI designers tend to get paid more than visual and graphic designers.
If you were to look at any number of job listings, cross comparing the responsibilities for UX designers vs. product designers, it would be hard to find ten differences consistently to clearly distinguish which title is which. It ends up seeming that there is a lot more in common between the two roles than differences, and you would arrive at the same conclusion that the market is similarly confused with the same responsibilities being used interchangeably across the various advertisements for roles.
One reason why these roles can effectively be seen as the same thing is that the industry is changing fast. Getting hung up on a particular title or role may be missing the point of achieving the end business goal or the exciting industry changes, which universally affect both UX and product designers.
How Product Design & UX Can Increase Sales Growth
Maintaining an optimized UX and offering a good product design are essential to the success of your business. As far as your website's user experience is concerned, it has the ability to delight your customers, motivating them to spend more and increase your average conversion rate or turn them away entirely.
During the UX process, empathy is crucial as it allows us to understand a user's frustrations, pain points, hopes, fears, and limitations. It allows businesses to dig deep into understanding their users' needs. As a result, it develops solutions that will not only solve the users' problems but will enhance the overall customer experience and satisfaction by eliminating unnecessary pain or friction points.
In most cases, you have just a few seconds to make a good first impression on your visitors in order to capture their attention and convert them into customers, which is where UI/UX design services play a crucial role. Once you’ve captured their attention, the next step is to convert them into customers.
It is surprising how many startup founders and business owners do not know about the power of user recording and heat mapping on their websites. It is important to note that this data is invaluable and serves as a visual reference that you can use when you are looking at improving the performance of your website.
You can use these tools to track the mouse movements of users and how they interact with your website. Some programs even track “Rage clicks,” which is when a user clicks numerous times in rage because of a broken link or an inactive button on your website. It is possible to do all of this with tools such as Hotjar, which are inexpensive, and most of them are free up to a certain point.
It is important to note that the idea of product design-led conversion rate optimization (CRO) isn't about quick fixes like exit intent popups or deals, which are probably going to immediately boost conversion rates but won’t have any significant impact on the quality of the user experience.
A company that uses a product-led CRO approach focuses on optimizing conversion rates as part of a comprehensive, long-term strategy that prioritizes the user's experience over every other factor.
In order to implement this type of strategy, the following steps may be taken:
- Enhancing the user experience on your website or product by redesigning it and improving the navigation so that users are enticed to go to new pages and interact with new features as they navigate through the website or product.
- Streamlining the design of key conversion events so that your users experience less friction in the conversion process. In some cases, this could include forms for registering or downloading free trial versions of software.
- It is important to identify and fix any design issues that are blocking your users' ability to use your website.
- Analyzing the effect of new features and redesigns by identifying where conversions dropped across the new changes.
- Use conversion data to help you design new products or features that will benefit your customers.
The Impact of Product Design to Today’s Businesses
There is no doubt that users and consumers are becoming more informed when it comes to identifying good and bad user experiences. In recent years, we have become less and less tolerant of poor user experience, and poor usability, partly because of the increase in a younger generation of consumers and their comfort with technology, and partly because of the growth of general competency in using technology.
There is a shift happening in the product design and UX industry, and business owners need to change their mindset regarding design and learn how it affects the way the business functions. The goal should be to see design as the solution to creating great usability and user experience so that not only do you attract new customers but also keep your existing customers satisfied and loyal.
As more and more businesses invest in product design and UX, companies that fail to implement any changes are beginning to lose customers. There is a significant need for existing businesses to invest more in their user experience and product design as new, more user-friendly startups come into existing markets and begin to challenge existing players.