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

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Explore the product design field, find out the skills you need to begin your career, and get tips on how to build a portfolio.

[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 is involved in improving an existing product. A product designer might brainstorm solutions to current user pain points, take input from stakeholders, act as a liaison between designers, engineers, and researchers, and help compose mock-ups through wireframes and prototypes. These designers understand the bigger goals of the product whilst being mindful of the details needed to achieve them.

So what’s product design, exactly?

Product design is the process of creating a digital or physical product. The process is generally grounded in research and keeps the user’s experience in mind.

Product design has in recent years become associated with digital products like software or apps. But product design can also refer to the design of physical products, like furniture, electronics, and other manufactured goods. This latter type of design is also called industrial design. 


What does a product designer do?

A product designer’s job includes a few key tasks. These include: 

  • Designing: Whilst 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. 

  • Thinking of the user: A product designer will generally incorporate UX principles into their design. This doesn’t mean just making a product user-friendly. Product designers may conduct A/B testing, email surveys, and other UX research or know how to build wireframes, prototypes, and journey maps.

  • Collaborating across teams: As a person who 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 incorporates all the processes necessary to make the product user-friendly and well-designed.

Product designer salary

A product designer in India makes an average base salary of ₹10L, according to Glassdoor [1]. Compare this with the average total pay for user experience (UX) designers, who earn ₹7,50,000, and product managers, who make ₹16,50,000 [2, 3].

Product designer vs. UX designer: The differences explained

A UX designer usually focuses on a portion of the design process, optimising the product's design for the user experience. A product designer might focus on the entire process, including ensuring a product fits a company’s business needs. UX designers might also work more heavily in the initial design stage of the product, whilst product designers often work to improve existing products.

A product designer often works with UX designers and is generally expected to understand UX principles well. Plus, some people use the two titles interchangeably, which can lead to understandable confusion.

How to become a product designer

Product designers often have many responsibilities, which means you can pursue a career in this field through several paths. Here are a few ways to get started.

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 include Framer, Principle, or Figma.

  • Visual design tools: A product that’s pleasing to the eye can delight customers and create 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 in creating, overseeing, or implementing a project can be helpful.

Build a portfolio. 

A portfolio can show employers your past projects, aesthetics, and how you incorporate business needs into the 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 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 aspects of product design. Depending on your skill set, you can try starting out in UX design, graphic design, copywriting, or information architect roles.

Take courses.

Whether you’ve worked in a related role before or are starting from scratch, courses can polish your skills in product design. Consider the Google UX Design Professional Certificate if you want to familiarise yourself with UX design processes. You’ll have the opportunity to create a professional portfolio, work with digital design tools, and learn the basics of UX research from industry professionals.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Product Design Salaries in India, https://www.glassdoor.co.in/Salaries/india-product-designer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,5_IN115_KO6,22.htm?clickSource=searchBtn/.” Accessed March 13, 2023.

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