Mind Crafting – Exploring the Complementary Roles of UX and Product Design

16.10.2023 | 5 min read

Design plays a pivotal role in shaping the digital landscape. Agnieszka Zygmunt, our Lead UX Researcher at 10Clouds, took center stage during Mind Crafting Week – our extended celebration of Programmer's Day – to shed light on the nuanced relationship between User Experience (UX) and Product Design. Her session, titled 'The UX vs Product Designer – Why it's not only about nice visuals,' offered profound insights into how these two roles seamlessly intertwine to craft exceptional user experiences.

What is the essence of design?

To embark on our journey into the world of UX and Product Design, it's crucial to first comprehend the essence of design itself. Agnieszka began with a fundamental definition: "Design refers to something that is or has been intentionally created by a thinking agent." However, she emphasized that the application of this definition transforms considerably within the context of a software house like 10Clouds.

How does design align with the product lifecycle?

The key to understanding this transformation lies in recognizing how design aligns with the broader product lifecycle. Agnieszka introduced a visual representation of the typical product lifecycle, with its core phases: New Product, Introduction to the Market (e.g., MVP), Growth, Maturity, and Decline.

Crucially, Agnieszka underscored that design's role is not confined to the introduction of a new product alone. Instead, it permeates every stage of the product's journey, adapting its focus and objectives accordingly. Please note that the actions below are just examples, and not a comprehensive list of what design covers. We will expand on this with further examples of UX and Product Design:

Discovery: In the early stages of a new product, design aids in the process of discovery, where teams explore possibilities, ideate solutions, and align on the project's vision.

Building and developing: As the product takes its initial steps into the market, design shifts towards actively shaping and developing the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) while refining user experiences.

Adding new features or functionality: During the growth phase, design's role expands to encompass the integration of new features, ensuring they seamlessly align with the existing user experience. Note that here we look at features specifically, but these could also be new markets or new customer segments.

Optimizing the product: In the maturity phase, design takes a more refined approach, focusing on optimization and enhancements to the product's usability and efficiency.

Redesign and pivoting: Even in the face of decline, design remains relevant by facilitating redesigns or product pivots that breathe new life into the offering.

What is the role of UX and product design at every stage of the life cycle?

While each role has its unique focus, the synergy between them is undeniable. Here are the roles that UX and product design play at every stage:

Discovery phase

Role of UX: During the discovery phase, UX Designers delve into user needs, conduct competitive analysis, and map out the user journey. Their research-driven approach illuminates the path forward, informing both the aesthetics and functionality of the product.

Role of Product Design: In parallel, Product Designers work on defining the visual language and aesthetics that resonate with users. They translate UX research findings into visually appealing interfaces, breathing life into the UX strategies.

Introduction to the market

Role of UX: During beta testing and product introduction, UX Designers facilitate the integration of user-centric practices, ensuring alignment with user expectations and optimal performance.

Role of Product Design: Product Designers ensure visual consistency through design systems, promoting brand recognition and enhancing the user experience.

Growth phase

Role of UX: As the product gains traction, UX research becomes paramount, providing data-driven insights into user behavior. This informs informed decisions for continued product evolution.

Role of Product Design: Product Designers adapt and refine user experiences across platforms and devices, maintaining visual consistency and user engagement.

Maturity phase

Role of UX: In the maturity phase, data analysis becomes pivotal for UX Designers to refine the product based on user feedback and behavioral insights.

Role of Product Design: Product Designers focus on redesign efforts, enhancing the product's visual appeal and usability. Their creative expertise revitalizes the user interface, aligning aesthetics with functionality.

Decline phase

Role of UX: During decline, UX Designers employ audits to revitalize the product, identifying areas for improvement or redesign, addressing user-related issues and business challenges.

Role of Product Design: Product Designers may be called upon to rebrand the product, infusing it with fresh appeal to reposition it in the market. Their visual storytelling complements UX strategies for renewed engagement.

Harmonizing the roles for exceptional outcomes

UX and Product Designers are not mutually exclusive roles. Rather, they are complementary facets of the same design spectrum. A crucial takeaway is that a UX designer does not replace a Product Designer, and vice versa. Instead, they collaborate harmoniously, with each role bringing unique perspectives and expertise to the table.

It’s important to also note the critical distinction between UX and UI (User Interface) design.

While UX focuses on organizing and ensuring a product's effectiveness, UI adds the visual layer that breathes life into the UX designs.

Furthermore, Agnieszka underscored that design is not merely about aesthetics – it is about providing unwavering support throughout every stage of the product lifecycle. Beyond creating visually pleasing products, design endeavors to align businesses with market needs, uncover user values, and minimize risks.

At this intersection between UX and Product Design, 10Clouds continues to create exceptional digital experiences that resonate with users and drive success.

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