Clarify it like I’m 5: What’s a Product Designer? | by Henry Wu | HubSpot Product


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Henry Wu

Just lately, I used to be lucky sufficient to talk at HubSpot’s First Gen in Tech occasion the place I had the possibility to speak about what a Product Designer is and what they do at HubSpot. The occasion was extraordinarily enlightening. Not solely did I’ve the chance to encourage lots of my future colleagues however I shortly realized that Product Design is shrouded in thriller outdoors of those that are already in tech. I used to be overwhelmed by the suggestions and shortly realized there are numerous questions on what a Product Designer truly does.

My take away from the speak is that there isn’t sufficient Product Design posts on the web — like cat memes. So right here is my “What’s a Product Designer” speak within the type of a weblog put up.

There are superior discussions across the varied subjects I’m going to cowl. However that gained’t be coated on this put up. This put up is for aspiring designers. It’s for many who wish to break into tech. It’s particularly for many who are figuring out issues each day and attempt to make a distinction by fixing them.

A Product Designer has many names. You might have heard of titles like:

  • Expertise Designer (XD)
  • Data Architect (IA)
  • Interplay Designer (IX)
  • Expertise Architect (XA)
  • Person Interface (UI) Designer
  • Person Expertise (UX) Designer
  • And plenty of extra

Fact is, a Product Designer could also be accountable for some or all the above. A few of these title additionally overlap in accountability.

A Product Designer, at it’s core, is an issue solver.

A Product Designer is somebody who makes use of the completely different aspects and instruments of design to create and execute an answer that solves for a person’s expertise deficiencies.

A Product Designer is well-versed in a number of competencies of design that are described intimately on this put up by one other HubSpotter:

What does a Product Designer Do at HubSpot?

These are the objects and deliverables of a Product Designer. It’s the conglomeration of our efforts and work. Artifacts a Product Designer produce embrace:


Current Journey Map by Jon Knickerbocker (HubSpot Senior Product Designer)

Journey maps are an train in telling a person story as they progress by means of a activity or course of at a excessive stage. Nice journey maps doc the triggers and motivators and the post-experience to inform a whole story of a person journey. It breaks down the advanced feelings a person might undergo to assist establish pain-points and alternatives. They’re created by conducting workshops with completely different stakeholders and customers by means of a sequence of moderated questions and duties.

Word: Journey maps alone usually are not sufficient to inform a narrative as our person’s journey is commonly not linear and sometimes occasions oscillate between phases. There are lots of different methods and frameworks on the market — choose the one which maps to your aim and intent.


Wireframes are low-fidelity mock-ups to shortly draft options for testing and function blueprints for increased constancy designs. Usually drafted with paper and pencil, low-fidelity mock-ups are nice for ideation as a result of it retains the funding low. Dangerous concepts will be shortly scrapped since they’re low dedication and low cost, permitting for fast iterations. It’s an ideal software for the fail-fast mannequin which will be examine within the Lean UX e book (an excellent e book for any budding product designer.)


Sharon Monisharaj — Energy Paper Prototyping

Prototypes are mock-ups created with the aim of testing. Prototypes can differ in constancy — from paper prototypes to simulated, clickable designs. The aim is to check the answer by means of a sequence of moderated classes to assemble person suggestions. It’s paramount to recruit the proper person section and to make the most of the correct methodology to assemble unbiased information. Catching information and points within the type of data structure, usability, discoverability and so on at this stage will assist produce a extra user-friendly answer when it’s carried out.


Waze app

That is the ultimate mock-up of your design. After the answer has been vetted by your customers, this design ought to resemble the ultimate product when it’s coded and carried out. These designs function the blueprint and steerage to your dev group. They need to talk structure, shade, typography, padding and all of the superb particulars all the way down to the final pixel.

These are only a handful of the artifacts and instruments a Product Designer employs to unravel issues.

We don’t simply use design to make issues look fairly. We use design to unravel issues.

There are 3 core varieties of design in relation to Product Design:

  • System Design
  • Course of Design
  • Interface Design

All of them play an integral position in your complete person expertise as a result of all of them serve a distinct objective. Let’s stroll by means of an instance.

Design begins with an issue. For our instance, let’s say the issue you have got is starvation. In our instance, the answer you determined to rent to unravel your downside is to purchase groceries from a grocery retailer. There are different apparent and never so apparent rivals you’ll be able to rent to unravel your downside. They embrace:

  • Meals Supply
  • Eating places
  • Meals Vans
  • Comfort Shops
  • Merchandising Machines
  • Protein Shakes
  • Gaming
  • Netflix
  • Books
  • The Web
  • Sleep

Competitors is commonly one thing a designer has to think about as a result of you must create distinctive worth along with your answer. For our instance, let’s use grocery shops as your answer.


A grocery retailer is an instance of a system design. It’s considered one of many systematic options constructed on the mannequin of exchanging forex for items. This method gives worth by providing the person an enormous collection of items and trades value for effort because it requires the person to plan, collect and put together their very own meals.

Whereas we’re right here, let’s check out some design competencies corresponding to Data Structure.

Whereas we don’t discover it more often than not, grocery retailer aisles are designed to stability enterprise wants and person wants. Objects are intentionally organized and positioned for affordance to maximise gross sales. For instance, sweet could also be positioned close to the doorway throughout Halloween for straightforward entry and to spice up gross sales. And it might not be a smart alternative to put cat meals and canned tuna in the identical aisle for worry of confusion between the 2 objects.

One other consideration in your design is the person. Right here’s an instance you’ll find in a grocery retailer. Observe the peak of the shoppers and the location of the cereal with consideration of enterprise wants (however perhaps not the customers’).


Conventional strains
Cease & Store Scan It

The grocery retailer acts as a system that provides you the choice to decide on your meals to take dwelling, there are nonetheless processes inside the retailer itself. A kind of processes is the transaction the place you alternate your cash for items. When you breakdown the method right here, the shop must take a depend of what you’re shopping for and cost you appropriately. In most trendy grocery shops there are a a number of examples of this course of.

There may be the standard course of the place the person waits in line for the grocery store to scan their objects and conduct the transaction. One other course of might contain the person doing a self-scan of their stock and performing that transaction with a machine. Variables of this course of can embrace a scanner to assist expedite the method which lets the person scan objects as they add it to their cart.


Even in a grocery retailer, there’s interface design for a person to work together with. Whether or not you might be within the assisted checkout line or in a self-checkout line, there’s interface for totaling your objects and value. Within the instance above, the self-checkout UI must have a stage of intuitiveness so a buyer can scan all their objects, coupons, loyalty card, and enter their fee methodology.

Breaking down every considered one of these duties will reveal the complexities behind every part of the checkout. For instance, what occurs if the merchandise doesn’t scan? How does the person discover or enter the merchandise into the system? How ought to objects be sorted? The design can decide the interface’s usability, reliability, effectivity, and velocity.

There are millions of deliberate choices that goes into the design of the grocery retailer system and we see completely different variations of them from model to model. Every choice is designed to easy out the expertise. If these choices usually are not made with the intent of constructing the person expertise frictionless, a person will rent a distinct system to unravel their downside corresponding to take-out.

At HubSpot, my day appears very completely different relying on what part I’m in a venture. It may be any mixture of the next:

Analysis our customers and issues

It is a vital effort in our course of. To be able to actually design an answer, we’ve to be material specialists with whom our customers are and what issues they’re encountering. We additionally want to know their motivations, triggers, aspirations, and objectives. We work along with our Product Managers, UX Researchers, Product Perception, and stakeholders to find out our customers, confirm the issue and decide KPIs.

“If I had one hour to unravel an issue, I’d spend fifty-five minutes defining the issue, and 5 minutes on the answer.” — (Most likely) Albert Einstein

Design and prototype

After understanding our customers and issues, we begin developing with first drafts of our answer. There are lots of completely different strategies and workshops for ideating a course of — IDEO curated an excellent design equipment for a lot of of these strategies. At HubSpot, we’ve a design system that permits us to shortly mock-up and prototype a design. This permits us to quickly take a look at our designs whereas making certain a cohesive visible and interactive expertise that matches our design rules.

Take a look at with our customers

We work carefully with our UX Researcher to display screen and recruit customers to check our designs. Our UX Researchers will assist us take a look at our speculation by recommending the most effective testing methodologies. A few of these strategies embrace: Tree Testing, A/B Testing, Surveys, Interviews, and even dwell Betas.

Design some extra

With the suggestions and information in our earlier step, we use it to tell us on design choices we should always make and alter to make sure that our answer is definitely fixing issues once we launch.

Launch a product

With our closing design as a blueprint, our engineering group works in a sequence of sprints to construct our answer. Working carefully with the engineers, we undergo a sequence of day by day stand-ups and QA to verify our answer is on observe with the design and bug-free.

Measuring and iterating the product

That is the defining second of Product Design. Designing a person expertise is incomplete with out measuring and analyzing the information of your product as soon as it’s dwell. At HubSpot, we work with our UX Analysis group and our Product Perception group to provide you with KPIs that helps us decide the dataset we ought to be measuring to find out success. As soon as a product is launched, these numbers are rigorously monitored to find out if we’re shifting the needle and making progress. That information will inform us on every other choices we have to modify within the within the subsequent iteration of the design and course of.

Product/UX design is that this fixed loop of analyzing, designing, testing, launching, monitoring, and evolving. All of that is carried out as a result of we’re fixing issues.

Do these examples of Product Design make sense? Are there higher metaphors? Is there one thing particular about Product Design you’d need to be taught extra about? Go away me a remark or tweet at me — I’d love to listen to your ideas.

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