What role does a UX designer play in a product development team? What do the UX designer description and responsibilities look like?
There are three key roles in a product development team, the product manager, the UX designer, and the engineers. The UX designer role is crucial because they are responsible for keeping the customers’ needs in mind and for working on the product prototype.
Here is the complete description of the UX designer role.
Product Development Team Roles
For a product to be successful, it needs a good team working on it. This is how to create an effective team, and thus give a product the best chance of success.
Every team needs to be filled with missionaries rather than mercenaries. In other words, employers should look for and cultivate those who truly believe in the product and advocate for it rather than people who only do what they’re told.
Here are the three key positions:
- The product manager
- The product (or UX) designer
- The engineers
This article will focus on the UX designer description.
Key Position #2: UX Designer
Most companies’ products have poor designs because they don’t worry about design as much as they think about the engineering. This is a mistake because, as Apple has proven, having a product with an interface that is visually appealing to customers is a huge competitive advantage.
The product designer or UX (user experience) designer is responsible for designing the product with the customer and user experience in mind. Product designers ask some of the following questions when designing a product:
- Where will customers hear about the product?
- How will users interact with one another?
- What other, competing products can get in the way of the customer choosing, and subsequently using, ours?
- How will users’ experience change as they continue to use the product over time?
- What will users enjoy about the product?
- What will users find unique about the product?
- What will users tell their friends about the product?
The product designer is also a strategic partner of the product manager. While product managers have a holistic understanding of how the product functions, designers may better understand how its target audience will use it. As a result, the designer can help the product manager make decisions about all user-related questions, such as where to place a home button or whether to develop new charging technology.
Product designers answer user experience questions by working with the team to develop prototypes of the product and to test them.
Two Types of Design
Product designers focus on two types of design: interaction design and visual design.
- Interaction design refers to the components of a product and how they work for the user. For example, if you’re designing word processing software, this would include the spellcheck feature, style and formatting tools, and all the ways that users can set up a document.
- Visual design focuses on how a product looks on the screen. Visual design is less about functionality and more about beauty.
Most product designers have some experience with both of these types of design.
The Lead Product Designer
When a company gets big enough it needs a lead product designer, just as it needs a lead product manager. The lead designer is responsible for making sure that visually, every project looks the same. Having different fonts on different products within one company, unless it is obviously intentional, just looks disorganized.
The Importance of the Product Designer to the Product Manager
We’ve already touched on why the product designer is so important, but now let’s consider what would happen if the product designer didn’t exist. The product manager would either take on all of the design herself, delegate the design to her engineers, or do the interaction design herself while delegating the visual design to a graphic designer.
None of these situations is tenable because, beyond how busy the product manager already is, it takes a specific skill set and understanding of a visual language to succeed as a designer. Bringing in a professional graphic designer might help with some of this, but they won’t have access to the consumer data from the surveys, nor will they be likely to understand the product well.
Therefore, product managers should do a few things to encourage the work of the product designer:
- Sit next to your designer.
- Clue your designer in to everything you’re doing.
- Include the designer (and have the designer lead) in some interactions with customers.
- Don’t give your designer too much feedback or any of your own design ideas—rather, let the designer solve problems.
- Make sure your designer is producing work on a consistent basis, even if it’s early on in the process. This will allow the designer to develop some creative solutions to problems that you may not think of.
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