Product Design vs. UX Design: What’s The Difference?

Discover the key differences between product design and UX design. Understand their unique approaches, impact, and how they collaborate to create digital products.

Design has become integral to our daily lives, especially in the digital realm, where user experiences shape our interactions with products and services. From sleek mobile apps to intuitive websites and innovative physical products, design has the power to captivate users, foster brand loyalty, and drive business success.

Within the realm of design, two disciplines play a critical role in creating exceptional user experiences: product design and UX design. Whether you’re a business striving to develop user-centered digital products or a budding designer navigating career choices, understanding the key differences between product design and UX design is crucial.

In this article, we dive into the nuances of these two disciplines, exploring their unique approaches, responsibilities, and impact on the overall user experience. By clarifying these distinctions, businesses can effectively add members to their design teams, and designers can confidently chart their career paths.

What is Product Design?

Product design is a multidisciplinary field that involves creating and optimizing user-centered digital experiences. It encompasses the entire process of designing and shaping digital products, such as websites, mobile applications, software interfaces, and interactive platforms. Product design aims to deliver seamless, intuitive, and visually compelling experiences that meet the needs and expectations of the target audience.

Product design aims to deliver seamless, intuitive, and visually compelling experiences that meet the needs and expectations of the target audience.

At its core, product design combines elements of user experience (UX) design, interface design, interaction design, and visual design. It requires a deep understanding of human behavior, information architecture, and usability principles to create products that are aesthetically pleasing, functional, and easy to use. Product designers leverage their expertise in these areas to craft interfaces and interactions that guide users through a smooth and enjoyable journey, ensuring that each touchpoint is optimized for engagement and satisfaction.

What is UX design?

UX design, short for User Experience design, is a multidisciplinary field that centers around enhancing user satisfaction and usability by improving users’ overall experience with a product or service. UX designers delve into users’ psychology, behavior, and preferences to create intuitive and engaging digital experiences.

They conduct user research, create wireframes and prototypes, and collaborate with cross-functional teams to ensure the final product meets user needs and aligns with business objectives.

UX design revolves around crafting meaningful experiences for users, ensuring that websites, applications, and products are intuitive, efficient, and enjoyable to use.

Product Design vs. UX Design: Key Differences

In the realm of digital product development, two prominent disciplines stand out: product design and UX design. While both are crucial for creating exceptional user experiences, they possess distinct characteristics and approaches that set them apart. Understanding these key differences is vital, whether you’re a business aiming to build user-centric products or a designer seeking to specialize in a specific area.

In this section, we delve into the fundamental disparities between product design and UX design, exploring their contrasting focuses, scopes, collaboration dynamics, and overall impact on the user experience and product success.

The following are key differences between product design and UX design.

  1. User-centric approach in UX design vs. holistic approach in product design:

UX design strongly emphasizes understanding user needs, motivations, and pain points. It strives to create intuitive and user-friendly experiences. Product design takes a more holistic approach, considering the user and business requirements, technical feasibility, manufacturing processes, and market factors.

  1. Scope and level of detail in both disciplines:

UX design focuses on the digital experience, addressing a product’s flow, interaction, and visual design. It involves creating wireframes, prototypes, and conducting usability testing.

Product design encompasses the entire product lifecycle, including physical or digital aspects, materials, manufacturing processes, branding, and packaging. It requires a more comprehensive understanding of the product as a whole.

  1. Collaboration and integration between product and UX designers:

Product designers and UX designers collaborate closely throughout the design process, exchanging ideas and insights. They work together to ensure the product’s visual and interaction design aligns with the user experience goals.

Product designers often rely on the expertise of UX designers to inform their decisions and create products that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional and user-centered.

  1. Impact on the overall user experience and product success:

UX design directly influences how users perceive and interact with a product. It aims to create meaningful and satisfying experiences, which can lead to increased user engagement, customer loyalty, and overall product success.

Product design contributes to the overall product experience, considering factors beyond the digital interface. It involves creating cohesive and desirable products that meet user expectations and differentiate the brand in the market.

Product Design vs. UX Design: Key Similarities

While product design and UX design have distinct focuses and approaches, they also share important similarities that contribute to the creation of exceptional user experiences. Understanding these commonalities is essential for businesses and designers alike, as it highlights the collaborative nature of design and emphasizes the importance of aligning user needs with product development.

This section will explore the key similarities between product design and UX design, showcasing the shared goals, research-driven methodologies, and iterative design processes underpinning both disciplines. By recognizing these parallels, we can gain a holistic perspective on the interconnectedness of product design and UX design and how they work together to create successful digital products.

  1. Shared goal of creating exceptional user experiences:

Both product design and UX design share the common objective of delivering exceptional customer experiences. They strive to create products that are not only functional but also enjoyable and intuitive to use.

  1. Consideration of user needs and preferences:

Both disciplines put the user at the center of the design process. They conduct research, gather user insights, and incorporate feedback to ensure the new features or final product meets user expectations while problem-solving effectively.

  1. Utilization of research and user feedback:

Product designers and UX designers rely on research methodologies such as user interviews, surveys, and usability testing to gather insights into user behavior and preferences. Product designers also leverage user feedback to refine their designs and iterate on product improvements.

  1. Iterative design processes in both disciplines:

Both product design and UX design follow iterative design processes. They involve creating prototypes, gathering feedback, and making iterative refinements based on user or a/b testing and research. This iterative approach allows designers to continuously improve the product and address any usability or functionality issues.

Product Designer vs. UX Designer Skills

In the realm of design, both product designers and UX designers play vital roles in shaping the user experience and bringing digital products to life. While their ultimate goal aligns with creating exceptional user experiences, the specific skill sets required for each role differ in focus and emphasis. To excel in their respective domains, product designers and UX designers must possess unique skills that allow them to navigate the complexities of the design process and deliver impactful solutions.

By understanding the specific proficiencies required for each discipline, aspiring designers and hiring managers can identify the ideal skill sets for success and foster collaboration between these two crucial design roles.

Product designers and UX designers require a combination of overlapping and distinct skills:

Product Designer Skills:

  • Visual design skills like proficiency in typography, color theory, layout, and composition
  • User-centered design and the ability to understand and empathize with the target audience
  • Prototyping skills to create interactive prototypes for user testing and feedback for new products
  • Information architecture expertise in organizing and structuring information for intuitive navigation
  • Strong teamwork and communication skills for effective collaboration with cross-functional teams

UX Designer Skills:

  • User research techniques, such as conducting interviews, usability testing, and creating user journeys
  • Information architecture and interaction design principles
  • Proficiency in prototyping tools and software
  • Empathy and understanding of user psychology and behavior
  • Ability to translate user insights into intuitive and engaging digital experiences

Understanding Product Design, UX Design, and UI Design

UI design (user interface design) focuses on the visual elements and interactive components that users directly interact with on a digital product or interface. It involves designing the layout, typography, color scheme, icons, and other visual elements to ensure they are aesthetically pleasing, intuitive, and aligned with the overall brand identity.

UX design, on the other hand, takes a broader approach by considering the entire user journey and the overall experience users have while interacting with a product. It involves understanding user needs, conducting research, creating personas, and designing user flows and information architecture to ensure a user-friendly and meaningful experience.

Product design encompasses both UX and UI design and other aspects such as market research, product strategy, and business goals. Product designers work to align the user experience with the overall product vision, ensuring that the UI design elements support and enhance the user experience.

UI design focuses on a digital product’s visual and interactive aspects, while UX design takes a more holistic approach by considering the entire user journey. Both UI and UX design are integral parts of product design, working together to create a cohesive and delightful user experience.

Product Designer vs. UX Designer Salary

When comparing the salaries of product designers and UX designers, it’s important to consider several factors, including experience, location, industry, and company size. Generally, both roles can offer competitive salaries, but the specific figures can vary.

Product designers, with their focus on creating digital products and interfaces, often command a range of salaries based on their skill set and experience. According to industry reports, the average salary for digital product designers can vary from $70,000 to $120,000 per year, depending on factors such as location and seniority.

UX designers specializing in creating exceptional user experiences also enjoy competitive salaries. On average, UX designers can earn between $75,000 and $130,000 per year. However, it’s important to note that senior UX designers with significant experience and expertise may command higher salaries, potentially exceeding these ranges.

It’s worth mentioning that salary ranges can also be influenced by the industry and company size. For instance, working in industries such as technology, finance, or e-commerce might offer higher compensation compared to other sectors. Additionally, larger companies often have the resources to offer more competitive salaries.

Which role is right for you?

Choosing between a career in product design vs UX design ultimately depends on your interests, skills, and career aspirations. If you enjoy working with physical products, understanding manufacturing processes, and creating tangible experiences, product design may suit you. On the other hand, if you have a passion for understanding user behavior, crafting digital experiences, and conducting user research, UX design might be a better fit.

Consider your strengths, interests, and the type of design work that excites you the most. Read a few job descriptions for roles that may interest you and see what is most appealing. Keep in mind that both disciplines offer rewarding career opportunities and the chance to significantly impact user experiences and product success.

Embrace the power of Product Design and UX Design!

Product design and UX design are distinct yet interconnected disciplines that contribute to the creation of successful digital products. Understanding these two fields’ key differences and similarities is crucial for businesses aiming to deliver exceptional user experiences and for designers seeking to chart their career paths.

Product and UX design share the goal of putting users at the center of the design process and considering their needs and preferences. They rely on research, feedback, and iterative design processes to continuously improve and refine the final product.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the importance of product design and UX design will only grow. By embracing the unique contributions of both disciplines and fostering collaboration between product and UX designers, organizations can create innovative and user-centered products that stand out in the market.


How do product designers and UX designers collaborate?

Product designers and UX designers collaborate by sharing insights, exchanging ideas, and working together to align the product’s visual and interaction design with the user experience goals. They collaborate throughout the design process to ensure a cohesive and user-centered product.

Is it better to be a UX designer or a product designer?

Both roles offer unique opportunities and challenges. As a product designer, you have the opportunity to shape the digital landscape and create impactful user experiences while staying up-to-date with emerging technologies. If you thrive in crafting intuitive interfaces, conducting user research, and analyzing user behavior, UX design is the path for you. It’s important to reflect on your strengths, aspirations, and the kind of impact you wish to achieve through your design work to make an informed decision about your career path.

Do product designers need product management skills?

While product management skills are not a strict requirement for product designers, having a basic understanding of product management principles can be beneficial. Product designers who have knowledge of product strategy, market research, and project management can better align their design decisions with business goals and effectively communicate with product managers and stakeholders. It can also enable them to contribute more effectively to cross-functional teams and collaborate on product development.