Product design is the process of creating products that satisfy user needs while meeting business goals. This important, multifaceted process requires not only design skills but also the ability to conduct customer research, oversee rapid prototyping of new product ideas, and develop a marketing strategy that ensures a successful launch. An effective product design process typically includes repeated iterations in response to user feedback in order to ensure the development of profitable products with a strong product/market fit.
While product design is applicable to the development of both physical and digital goods and services, the rapidly growing market for software, websites, mobile applications, and other digital products has led to the creation of new terminology specific to product design in this area. For example, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design is an aspect of product design that studies how customers interact with digital products, which is refined through a process of usability testing and user research.
Product designers are an important part of any tech company, with the ability to move back and forth across different stages of the product design process and incorporate user research and data along the way to improve product/market fit. Coming up with product designs that effectively solve for real customer needs is both an art and a science, and great designers use both perspectives to launch successful products. According to Glassdoor, product designers take home an average base pay of $87,923 per year.
Certainly. Coursera offers courses and Specializations spanning multiple courses on all aspects of product design for the development of both physical and digital products. You can learn about topics like UX/UI design, interaction design, and design strategy from top-ranked schools including California Institute of the Arts, University of California San Diego, University of Michigan, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Virginia, and the University of Sydney. And, with the ability to view course materials and complete coursework on a flexible schedule, learning on Coursera is a great fit for both students and mid-career professionals looking to build new skills.
People who are creative, curious, and who have good interpersonal skills are typically best suited for product design roles. Creativity and curiosity are important because these traits can help product designers think outside of the box when creating new products or updating existing products. These traits can also help a designer when searching for details that don’t work in order to make improvements. Interpersonal skills can come into play in product design through surveys and conversations a product developer has with the people who use the products that are in the development stage. People who are well suited for product design roles typically have good people skills because they may often need to focus on customer input almost as much as on the product being developed.
Some common career paths for product designers include industrial design, visual design, data analysis, UX design, and engineering. Some smaller companies could ask one product designer to take on several of these roles, while other large companies typically hire a product designer for each aspect of product design. In addition to developing physical merchandise, product designers can also be challenged to work as designers for systems, interfaces, or processes. Marketing and website design are also potential career paths related to product development.
Some topics you can study that are related to product design include how to perform user research and communication-centered topics like writing and how to give presentations. You could also study tools like Adobe Illustrator, InVision, or Treejack. You could study computer-aided drafting (CAD) programs or gender analytics. You could also study topics that are tied to the type of product you hope to develop, such as fashion if you want to design clothing or website development software if you want to build websites.
Some places that hire people who have product design backgrounds typically include manufacturing facilities that hope to develop new products or improve on items already being made and fashion houses that want to create new styles. Manufacturing facilities may also hire these designers to find ways to streamline manufacturing processes in order to cut costs. Tech-based companies can hire product designers to find things that users dislike and find ways to work those glitches out of programming to enhance user experience. Startups can also hire these designers to improve on original ideas for new products or services.
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