What Is a Product Designer? Salaries, Skills, and More

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Product designers oversee the design process of a product. You'll want to gain relevant skills and build a portfolio if you're hoping to become one.

[Featured image] A product designer discusses design processes with a colleague.

A product designer oversees the design process of a product from start to finish or the improvement of an existing product. A product designer might brainstorm solutions to current pain points, take input from stakeholders, act as a liaison between designers, engineers, and researchers, and more. They understand the bigger goals of the product while being mindful of the details needed to achieve them.

Product designer salary

According to Glassdoor, a product designer in the UK makes a median annual salary of £51,251 per year [1]. Compare this with the average total pay for user experience (UX) designers, who earn an average of £53,356 per year, and product managers, who make £63,592 per year [2, 3].

What does a product designer do?

To better understand what product designers do here are a few essential tasks: 

  • Designing: While a product designer might wear many hats, their principal task is still to design. A product designer will use their knowledge of colour, typography, detail, and other design elements to create a product. 

Read more: What Does a Graphic Designer Do? (And How Do I Become One?)

  • Thinking of the user: A product designer will generally fold UX principles into their design. That’s not to say you’ll just make a product user-friendly. Product designers also conduct A/B testing, email surveys, and other UX research. Additionally, some know how to build wireframes, prototypes, and journey maps.

  • Collaborating across teams: As a person that takes a holistic view of designing a product, a product designer often collaborates with designers, researchers, and business teams. This helps to ensure the finished product aligns with a company’s goals and folds in all the processes necessary to make the product user-friendly and well-designed.

Product designer vs UX designer: The difference explained                                                                                                

A UX designer usually focuses on a portion of the design process, making sure user experience is a critical factor in the product’s design. A product designer might focus on the entirety of the process, including ensuring a product fits a company’s business needs. UX designers might also work more heavily in the initial design stage of development, while product designers often work to improve existing products. 

A product designer often works with UX designers and is generally expected to have a good understanding of UX principles. Sometimes, the two titles get used interchangeably, leading to understandable confusion.

How to become a product designer

A product designer’s role wears many hats. You have several ways available to become a product designer. Here are a few ways to get the ball rolling.

Gain relevant skills.

  • UX/UI: Understanding what a user wants to accomplish, their pain points, and how a product makes them feel is a core design component. Technical skills to learn can include wireframing and prototyping, conducting research, and testing product features. Prototyping tools can consist of Framer, Principle, or Figma.

  • Visual design tools: A product that’s pleasing to the eye can delight customers and make for a pleasant user experience. Job descriptions often request you have a sense of aesthetics and some knowledge of the tools used in visual design. These can include Figma, Sketch, or Adobe Creative Suite.

  • Project management or leadership experience: Having some practice seeing the bigger picture of a process, strategising, and knowing how to execute a vision can come in handy as a product designer. You don’t have to have worked as a project manager, but some experience creating, overseeing, or implementing a project can be helpful.

Build a portfolio. 

A portfolio can show employers your past projects, your aesthetic, and how you incorporate business needs into design. A portfolio as a product designer can have an “About me” section to describe your background and strengths. You can build a portfolio through website builders like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, or Webflow. 

If you don’t have enough projects to fill out a website, don’t worry. You can start by uploading your projects onto your LinkedIn and construct a complete portfolio somewhere down the line. These can include past work projects, personal projects you’ve created, or work from courses you’ve taken.

Start in related roles. 

The road to becoming a product designer isn’t always straightforward. You can gain related experience by working in roles exposing you to different product design aspects.

Depending on your skill set, you can try starting out in UX design, graphic design, copywriting, or information architect roles.

Take courses.

Regardless of whether you’ve worked in a related role before or you’re starting from scratch, courses can polish the skills you have yet to master. See where the gaps in your arsenal of skills are. Here are a few that can be useful to you as a product designer.

  • If you’re trying to familiarise yourself with UX design processes, consider the Google UX Design Professional Certificate. You’ll have the opportunity to put together a professional portfolio, work with digital design tools, and learn the basics of UX research.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Article sources


Glassdoor. "Product Designer Salaries in United Kingdom, https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Salaries/uk-product-designer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN2_KO3,19.htm?clickSource=searchBtn." Accessed July 17, 2023.

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