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What is Product Design? A Comprehensive Guide

Jan 22, 2021
What is Product Design? A Comprehensive Guide

Back in the old days, before digitalization, a product referred to solid materials bought and sold in the market place. Now, the term encompasses digital products like mobile apps, websites, web apps, and more.

Much like designing 3D products, product designers need to sketch a rough draft to visualize the appearance of these products. In the blog, we’ll cover what product design is, its history, and types, as well as the variety of product designers we have in the professional world:

What is Product Design

According to the product design definition, the term implies identifying the market gap, defining the problem, finding a solution then validating it among the target audience. In simple terms, it is addressing the users’ issues through an imaginative and creative approach. Therefore, for successful product design, the designers must understand the user.

Furthermore, product design plays a role in various domains, including the health sector, food industry, jewelry, sports, tableware, and furniture. Before we look into the types of designers and their digital creations, let’s study the history of product design.

History of Product Design

Product design is not just a constitution of our present-day digital era. The concept is an extension from the time of industrialization. Industrial Designers Society of America explains Industrial Design as “professional practice of designing products for millions of people around the globe.” Much like product designers, industrial inventors focused on the appearance of the product, its functions, manufacturing process, and the user experience.

After the mass-production of products started, manufacturers drafted industrial designers to design products that not only offered functionality but were also aesthetically pleasing.

Eventually, product design became a separate category. Today, industrial design deals with creating physical creations like furniture, appliances, and more. On the other hand, product design refers to all sorts of items, including apps, websites, software, and more.

Types of Product Designers

We discussed product design definition and its history, now let’s look at those who design products.

Product design includes several roles, including UX designers, Data analysts, Prototype developer, and product designers. Here’s a more in-depth look into the responsibilities of each position:

UX Designers

Since product design is concerned with creating an item that solves users’ problems, their satisfaction is a top priority. That said, a UX designer is responsible for ensuring the users’ happiness.

Prototype Developers

Prototype developers give the 2D layout a physical shape. They are tasked with designing an interactive mockup that helps users and investors determine how the product will look when finished, its functionality, and usability.

Product Designers

Some companies hire individuals for each designer role, while others have one professional to handle a variety of tasks of all positions. A Product Designer is responsible for strategizing, prototyping, developing new product ideas, and more.

Data Analysts

Data analysts handle the research phase of product development. They cover user research and other details to discover new ways of improving product layout, features, and visual aesthetics.

Other roles include visual designers, animation engineers, user researchers, and business strategists.

Design Process

The product design process varies for companies, but some fundamental steps are universal:

Defining Product Vision

Before you can work on your product design, you need to establish a development strategy and your product vision.

Product vision identifies the direction for the development team and answers a vital question: ‘what are we trying to build?’ Additionally, it highlights what you are ‘not’ trying to achieve. Defining the boundaries of development will ensure you stay on track with the project.Furthermore, while product vision highlights your goals, your strategy defines the development journey. It will help you in setting the foundation for future success.


Creating a product that no one wants is a waste of time and money. That is why research is an essential step. It implies studying the market to identify the gap in supply and demand.

As product design depends intensely on the users, understanding the target audience is a priority. It will help in identifying what the users need and what they expect from your product. Plus, it will help provide an exceptional UX design.

User Analysis

When you have your research on the target audience, it’s time to analyze the data collected. It is the phase of development where you make sense of the information, interpret what your users want, how they think, and what they need to define your product vision and strategy.


With your research and vision set, the next step is to be creative. Brainstorm ideas for probable solutions to achieve the project goals. Not just generating ideas, but it is a time for you to cross-out invalid layout designs as well. From sketching the layout to storyboarding is a part of the ideation phase in product development.


Now comes the actual development of product design. After the ideation, the development team should have a visual on what they’re building. In the design phase, they need to start on a prototype that fits the product vision.

Test Your Product

Before launching your final product, test the prototype. It will validate your idea among the target market and ensure you are on the right track. Plus, the interactive model can help judge the user experience, user interface, and functionality of your product.

Testing and validation are a crucial stage that highlights any errors and bugs in your product concept. It’s best to fix all faults during the initial development than post-launch.

Post-Launch To-Do List

Product Design doesn’t end with the launch of your product. Instead, it’s an ongoing process that involves post-launch marketing, maintenance, updates, bug fixing, and more. Until product is in use, your post-launch to-do list is never-ending!

Creations of a Product Designer

Product designers’ creations vary from company to company. Here are some of the deliverables, you can expect of a product designer:

Journey Maps

Journey maps retell the story of a users’ advancement through a task or process. It includes triggers, post-experiences, and motivators, plus breaks down the complex emotions a user experience to highlight pain-points and opportunities.


Prototypes are interactive mockups designed to provide a visual of the product idea for validation and testing. There are various forms of prototypes, including paper prototypes, and simulated, clickable designs.


Wireframes can be defined as a rough sketch of the product to serve as blueprints for the final version. It helps in making alterations in design, fixing functionality issues, and layout, before production.

High-Fidelity Designs

High-fidelity designs are the final mockup of your product design. After validation and testing from your users, these reflect the final product after coding.

Product Design is a Priority

In a nutshell, product design is a process that deals with crafting functional products to solve people’s problems. It means user experience is a top priority when considering the layout, features, and navigation. Thus, before you work on the design, research your target audience, identify the market gap, then provide a solution to bridge the gap.

I hope the blog helped in understanding what product design is. So, do your research and get started!

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