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Hiring Product Designers - a definitive guide

Anudeep Rastogi

Product design is the process of creating and developing new products or improving existing ones, with the goal of solving a problem or meeting the needs of a target market. It involves the design of both the product itself and the process for creating it, taking into consideration user experience, function, and aesthetics. Product design is an interdisciplinary field that combines elements of engineering, design, and user experience to create products that are both functional and appealing to the target audience.


The key element to successful product design lies in comprehending the target user. Product designers strive to address real problems for real people by utilizing empathy and an understanding of their prospective customers' habits, behaviors, frustrations, needs, and wants.

An ideal product design should be so well executed that it goes unnoticed by users, allowing them to intuitively interact with the product as needed. This is achieved when the product design team fully understands and anticipates the user's needs.

Good product design is integrated throughout the entire product lifecycle, starting from pre-ideation user research and extending to concept development, prototyping, and usability testing. It is crucial in shaping the initial user experience and product offering. The design process doesn't stop there, as product design continues to play a crucial role in refining the customer experience by seamlessly adding supplemental functionality and capabilities. Ensuring brand consistency and evolution remains an important responsibility of product design throughout the product's lifespan.

Product design encompasses much more than just the visual aspect of a product that users see on their screens. System and process design are critical elements that work behind the scenes to drive user interactions with the interface design.

This blog post is a comprehensive guide on how to understand the product design process and successfully recruit the best product designer for your team/company.

Product Design Process

Credit: Miro

The details of the product design process will vary from company to company, but these professionals tend to follow a similar philosophy or framework when it comes to design thinking and implementation. It involves the following steps:

  1. Empathizing with the target user to understand their needs, wants, goals, fears, and frustrations. This helps the product team set aside their biases and assumptions and see things from the customer's point of view.
  2. Defining the problem in a human-centric manner based on the insights gathered from empathy.
  3. Ideating potential solutions to the problem and developing a minimum viable product.
  4. Building a prototype to test the viability of the solution.
  5. Testing the solution with the target user to gather feedback and make necessary adjustments to fine-tune the product.

In addition, product designing also includes preparing the product for launch and monitoring its performance post-launch. The goal of the process is to create a product that effectively solves a problem or meets the needs of the target market.

This process is iterative, and collaborative as different teams, including designers, engineers, marketers, and product managers may have to go back and forth in the design process which leads to a better end product.

Similarities and Differences between Product Designers and UX Designers

Product design and UX design are both important elements in the creation of digital products and have more similarities than there are differences between them.


For starters, both designers will go through the design thinking process and maintain a human-centered approach when it comes to design. Both have a market research aspect to their job (although naturally, the UX designer will delve deeper into user testing).

Alongside these overlapping traits, it’s not uncommon for both UX designers and product designers to use the same tools during the design process. Wireframing tools like Balsamiq and Sketch are commonly used by both designers, as well as user mapping software like LucidChart and Overflow.

In fact, product designers and UX designers basically use the same tools, with a few exceptions. In short, while product design covers the big picture of a product, UI/UX design focuses on the details of how the user interacts with the product.


Credit: Springboard

Despite these similarities, UX designers and product designers have a few differences in their job specs. One of the best ways to distinguish between these two roles is to look at the questions they ask.

A UX designer might ask: “Is this product easy to use?” But a product designer would ask, “Does this product make sense in the current economy?”

In UX design, you’d ask, “How do I make my design user-friendly?” In product design, you’d ask, “How do I make my design cost-effective?”

From the differences in these questions, you can gauge that the two designers have different priorities. In UX, the priority is usability. In product design, it’s the process, business, cost, and brand.

Another major difference between the two is that UX Designers spend most of their time developing products prior to launch, whereas Product Designers spend most of their time updating products that have already been launched.

Credit: Miro

In summary, the roles of UX Designer and Product Designer are similar in most ways, but different in execution and mind-set. The choice between them could be considered one of “breadth vs. depth” with UX Designers exploring a range of possibilities for successful products, and Product Designers going deep into the evolution of products over time. 

What are the roles and responsibilities of a Product Designer?

Credit: Springboard

The roles and responsibilities of a product designer typically include:

  • Conducting research and user testing to understand consumer needs and behaviors
  • Developing and creating sketches and prototypes for new product ideas
  • Collaborating with cross-functional teams, including engineers, marketers, and product managers
  • Utilizing computer-aided design (CAD) software to bring designs to life
  • Analyzing and solving complex problems related to product design and user experience
  • Implementing and adhering to brand and design guidelines
  • Creating detailed presentations to present designs to clients and stakeholders
  • Ensuring the product is cost-effective and feasible to manufacture
  • Staying current with industry trends and incorporating them into designs
  • Managing the product design process from ideation to launch, including working within tight deadlines
  • Continuously testing and refining designs to improve user experience and product performance.

What background and skills do Product Designers have?

  • Relevant undergraduate degree or formal qualification
  • 3+ years of professional experience UX/UI design
  • Proficiency in industry-standard design and prototyping tools such as Sketch, AdobeXD, or Figma
  • A strong understanding of how to apply design thinking when planning and scoping project work
  • Experience in contributing towards a design system
  • A portfolio that demonstrates functional designs across desktop and mobile devices
  • A user-centric mindset
  • Strong wireframing/prototyping skills
  • Experience conducting research/partnering with user researchers
  • Experience partnering with engineers to release features, products, and/or services
  • Experience working on complex applications
  • Strong visual and verbal communication skills
  • Strong cross-functional collaboration and communication skills

What tools and technologies do Product Designers know?

Product designers need software that will let them exchange information, communicate and visualize their ideas, and collaborate on projects with their teams. Here is a list of some of the most widely used tools for each step in the product design process:

Prototyping and Design

  1. Sketch - A powerful tool which visualizes individual or team’s ideas equivalent to a Jedi Master. In their own words: “Create, prototype, collaborate, and bring your ideas to life with the design platform used by over one million people — from freelancers to the world’s largest teams.”
  2. AdobeXD - Loved due to its consistent cohesion and consistency the software affords, even when projects are moving with swiftness! Almost no guesswork, centralized, and Adobe is always optimizing and making their products better. 
  3. Figma - Offers cloud based collaboration and streamlining the complexities in the digital design process.
  4. Adobe After Effects - Used for varied video editing features like  Chroma key cutting, text animation, visual effects, camera tracking, motion tracking, motion graphics animation, titling, color grading, etc.

User Experience (UX) and Research Tools 

  1. UserGuiding - UserGuiding is a user onboarding software which enables product designers to educate and activate users throughout their user journeys with interactive UX elements, without any coding.
  2. Optimal Sort - It is a go-to tool for card sorting. It’s super simple to set up from a technical standpoint, and it’s also extremely user-friendly for test participants. The tool comes with both free and paid plans.

Usability Testing

  1. Lookback - Used for remote user testing and interviews. It offers session recordings, which help in easily spotting situations that negatively impact user experience. For example, when a user is unable to click on an unresponsive CTA button. It also helps to quickly fix any issues before they escalate into bigger problems.
  2. UserZoom - Helps in continuous testing and keep up with design and development. It also benchmarks user experience throughout by giving high quality UX insights.

Digital Experience Analytics

  1. Hotjar - An analytics platform, which is used to track how users interact with the products and how they perform. Hotjar also offers heatmaps and session recordings which can be used to know how users navigate around the apps, and spot any issues which negatively impact the user experience.
  2. Fullstory - FullStory’s patented DX Data Engine automatically logs every aspect of your users’ interactions, across all visits. In addition it provides pixel-perfect session replay that enables product designers to visualize the “why” and “how” of user experience and optimize conversion rates.


  1. Zeplin - A niche software for collaboration which is less expensive and saves time apart from being relatively stress-free and user-friendly in terms of core navigation.
  2. Mural - It is a product design tool that promises to “transform teamwork”, and it truly does. As the name might already indicate, the tool functions as a virtual wall made to support remote team collaboration. Among other things, Mural lets product designers visualize their team’s action plan and conduct live, virtual workshops. It can also run quick voting exercises with participants and prepare or adjust board segments for each meeting scenario. In addition it can save time by setting a meeting timer to ensure the team is on track with the agenda and avoid delays.

These tools and technologies may vary based on the specific needs of the product, the size of the organization and the role of the designer within the product development process.

What do companies look for in Product Designers?

Each company is different. A company hiring their first Product Designer has very different needs than one looking to hire their 100th Product Designer. To illustrate how companies might differ in their requirements, here is a comparison between some of the requests made by Apple, Meta, Ford, Netflix and Paypal in a Product Design position.

However, there are some common traits which most companies look for:

  • Strong design skills: A solid understanding of design principles, with a portfolio showcasing their skills in visual and interaction design.
  • Problem-solving skills: The ability to find creative solutions to complex design problems, taking into account user needs, technical requirements, and business goals.
  • User-centered design approach (UCD): An understanding of user-centered design methodologies and a focus on creating user-friendly, intuitive products.
  • Communication and collaboration skills: The ability to work effectively with cross-functional teams, including developers, product managers, and stakeholders, and to clearly articulate design decisions and rationale.
  • Technical proficiency: Familiarity with design and prototyping tools, such as Sketch, Figma, and InVision, as well as an understanding of the latest design trends and technologies.
  • Adaptability and flexibility: The ability to work in a fast-paced, dynamic environment and to adjust designs quickly in response to changing requirements or feedback.
  • Passion for design and product development: A genuine interest in and excitement for designing and developing products, with a desire to continuously improve and innovate.

What is the compensation range for Product Designers?

A product designer in the US makes an average base salary of $81,845 in 2022, according to Glassdoor [1]. Average additional pay such as bonuses, commission, and profit sharing is $14,923, bringing the average total pay for a product designer in the US to $96,768. Compare this with the average total pay for user experience (UX) designers, who earn $98,651, and product managers, who make $127,528 [2,3].

The global salaries of a product designer are shown below:

Credit: Glassdoor

What boolean search can I use to find Product Designers?

Finding the best candidates can take time and effort. After all, there is likely to be a range of different aspects that you’re looking for in your new employee and it can be difficult to narrow this down in your search. Using Boolean search strings enables you to achieve more specific results.

By using Boolean search in Google you can discover profiles and portfolios on specific sites. Include the site: operator and terms found exclusively on member profiles. For example:

  • “summary” “product designer”
  • “product designer” “shots” -jobs
  • “product designer” “project views”

Add more criteria in your search to find profiles that better match your requirements.

Additionally below are some of the search strings to find Product Designers based on their skills and experience:

  • Who know about spatial design: "intitle:resume OR intitle:cv" "product designer" "spatial design" -job -jobs -sample -templates
  • Who have used specific video editing software: "intitle:resume OR intitle:cv" "product designer" (Adobe After Effects) -job -jobs -sample -templates
  • Who are familiar with certain prototyping platforms: "intitle:resume OR intitle:cv" "product designer" Sketch -job -jobs -sample -templates
  • Who have relevant industry experience: "intitle:resume OR intitle:cv" "product designer" (medical OR pharma) -job -jobs -sample -templates
  • Who know about user experience: "intitle:resume OR intitle:cv" "product designer" (UX OR “user experience” OR “interaction design”) -job -jobs -sample -templates
  • Who are familiar with user research: "intitle:resume OR intitle:cv" "product designer" (“user research” OR “usability testing” OR “UserGuiding”) -job -jobs -sample -templates
  • Who have worked in leadership roles: "intitle:resume OR intitle:cv" (“senior product designer” OR "chief product designer" OR “managed team”) -job -jobs -sample -templates
  • Who are familiar with the Block Element Modifier (BEM) methodology: "intitle:resume OR intitle:cv" “product designer” (“block element modifier” OR bem) -job -jobs -sample -templates

What are some sample Interview Questions for Product Designers?

Following are some of the general questions for a product designer’s interview:

  • According to you, what is a product design?
  • What is a suitable product design procedure?
  • What is the newest thing you have learned? How did you apply it, and has it improved your work?
  • What should be the first step taken toward a product design?
  • Which is more important? A style guide or product?
  • Tell us about a complex problem you have solved. What were the complications, and how did you simplify the design?
  • How do you stay updated with the latest design trends?
  • What are the procedures for conducting user research?
  • How do you take feedback about your product designs?
  • What steps are taken to identify a deficiency in user experience?
  • Which is your favorite product in terms of design? Why is it your favorite?

Good luck on your recruiting!

About Rocket

Rocket pairs talented recruiters with advanced AI to help companies hit their hiring goals and knows technology recruiting inside out. Rocket is headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley but has recruiters all over the US & Canada serving the needs of our growing client base across engineering, product management, data science and more through a variety of offerings and solutions.

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