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UX Qualities to Look For in a Product Designer

isaactan profile image IsaacTan ・1 min read


This article was originally posted on our company website. Supahands is a platform that helps companies train their artificial intelligence with a combination of human-intelligence and tech-enabled automation. Together with a remote workforce of over 2,000 individuals across Southeast Asia, we work with clients in the machine learning industry including self-driving vehicles and facial recognition.

In Supahands, we often see Product Design as a combination of different parts of design. So when it comes to recruiting for the Product Design team, we have learnt that there are some key skills in different areas of design expertise to look out for that would make for a great Product Designer.

user experience aka UX
noun
noun: user experience; plural noun: user experiences
the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.

Product Design is a fairly new area of focus thanks to the growing number of tech companies in recent years. Designers who spent the early part of their career focusing in just one part of design (e.g. graphic, UX, UI etc.) can morph into a Product Design role with the right soft skills and experience

For this article, we are going to be focusing on just the UX qualities of a Product Designer.


Designers are more than their portfolio

Companies often make the mistake of only looking at a designer’s portfolio when it comes to filling a Product Design position on their team. But after going through hundreds of portfolios and CVs, and speaking to less than a quarter of those who made it past the first screening stage, we have learnt that there is more to a good designer than beautiful designs.

First, it helps to quickly understand the importance of a good UX background for a Product Designer. Good UX designs can deliver more engaging, personalized and meaningful interactions from your users. It provides convenience and ease of use for even the most complex of tech products.

As businesses engineer more innovative and advanced ways of solving a problem, excellent UX is vital to enable users learn and adopt new ways of doing things. So, even the most amazing engineering efforts can easily go to waste if a user isn’t able to seamlessly experience it for themselves.

Many articles talk about the general skills to look out for when you start screening candidates to fill a Product Design position. But we want to break it down into different design disciplines and start by highlighting 3 UX skills that we have learnt to look out for in our hiring process here at Supahands.

We have also added a section at the end for those who are thinking of or in the middle of searching for a role as a Product Designer.

3 important UX-related qualities to look for in a Product Designer

Empathy
A good designer need to be able to put themselves in the shoes of others. It’s common to encounter UX professionals who struggle to separate their attachment to their own designs in place of something that may function better.

They need to be able to understand the users that they are designing for, and place the users’ needs before their own. It is so important for a good Product Designer to know the end-user well enough through research, interviews and analytics and translate what they know into a design that works.

Businesses that are hiring a Product Designer for the first time may be easily misled by the term “designer” as they tend to make the common assumption that good design just means one that is aesthetically pleasing. On the contrary, the best designs are often more functional than beautiful.

Think of most major e-commerce websites like Amazon for example. It has 300 million users and counting. The website’s design isn’t very eye-pleasing but it certainly does the job in giving users a smooth and seamless online shopping experience.

In fact, one of Amazon’s smartest UX move was to introduce the 1-Click buying system that made online shopping the easiest and fastest of its time.

fitbit-amazon
Amazon’s 1-Click function makes it exceptionally easy to shop online

Versatility
This trait is especially important if you don’t already have an existing Product Design team. Your earliest design hires will need to be extremely versatile and talented. They need to be the best Jack-of-all-Trades that they can possibly be.

Look for someone who can think of a product from its very early stages and continue to think of ways that she or he can keep innovating the design with more improvements.

In order to do that, a Product Designer will need to be able to understand a product’s roadmap strategy and showcase how they can communicate its evolution in a visual format.

It’s not uncommon for a Product Designer in a startup to have to execute every design-related task from working on defining the company’s brand image to designing its brand identifiers such as logos or icons.

cuberto
cuberto has one of the most beautiful, simple and functional websites that we have ever seen

Finding someone with a diverse skill set who can think strategically and artistically may be difficult, but it is most definitely not impossible and it will be worth the time invested in searching for the right person.

Open-mindedness
Product Design is more than just drawing or shifting pixels on a screen. The ideal UX-driven candidate doesn’t just design, she or he also engineers solutions and formulates business strategies.

With digital products, there will not be such a thing as the perfect user experience. This is because the nature of something being digital and people becoming more exposed to different types of apps and platforms mean that what a user prefers is constantly morphing over time. Therefore, it is common to feel that there will never be enough time to implement the ultimate UX.

devto
dev.to has one of the best UX that makes great use of space, is informative, attractive and a simple interface for new users to navigate

A person who is familiar with how the product is built and how it will be of value to users will be able to design something that performs fast without sacrificing ease of transactions. They will still be able to do amazing things under those constraints.


Are you looking for a job as a Product Designer?

After screening through hundreds of candidates, we have seen the best and worst of applications. Here are some key ways you can stand out from the initial screening to the interview stage.

Prepare a well-thought out portfolio
Product Design isn’t just about beautiful patterns, illustrations and colors — even though that is also an important skill to master.

Your portfolio is the best way to get your foot through the door into an interview. A restaurant wouldn’t hire a chef without tasting her/his food. Similarly, it’s extremely unlikely that a company will hire you as a Product Designer without first viewing your portfolio.

Take a look at the job description and the company that is hiring. What kind of products do they build? Present a well thought out portfolio that showcases what the recruiter is looking for.

Even if you don’t have prior experience designing something that is directly related to the hiring company, use your portfolio to explain your thought process for what you’ve worked on before. Whether it is the research that you have done for past designs, to showing data that prove that your design works — think beyond aesthetics and more about function.

Research, research, research
Once you have scored the interview, don’t stop researching about the company that you are applying for. Show your empathetic side by really understanding the problem that the company is trying to solve. Put yourself in the shoes of the user or client.

You must be able to showcase that you are familiar with the industry that the company is in, how they are different, and how your skills can contribute to reaching their business goals.

In almost all cases, the first question from an interviewer would be “What do you know about the company?“. So spend time in preparing for this question and standing out from other applicants who would likely have spent just as much time getting ready for the interview.


Product design and user experience

Understanding Product Design from a UX perspective is a journey that is truly fascinating. It can be a fast-paced role to be in because of the ever-changing needs of users, businesses, design trends and engineering capabilities in different companies.

But the designer’s role is getting much more recognition and importance in recent years.

Companies now recognize that UX designers are the bridge to users adopting the new technologies that they are trying to build.

Current UX designers need to be constantly learning and upskilling themselves to stand out and adapt to increasing implementation of machines into business processes. So as a recruiter, look out for someone who can evolve with you. And as an applicant, be curious and don’t stop learning.



Want to be part of a company that’s making waves in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning?

We’re looking for the most unique UX talent out there. Click here to view all job openings and submit your application now.

*Cover Image by our talented Product Designer, Baim Kamil

Think I’m missing other important qualities that you look for in a Product Designer? Comment below to let me know!

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