12 Important Lessons on Product Design

Some useful tips for product designers

Raúl M. Vicente
Jul 10, 2018 · 4 min read

We all make mistakes. Making mistakes is all right. They are good when you can learn from them. In so many ways, mistakes are supposed to be life lessons. And they are.

So what is this post about? This post is a list of common mistakes any product designer might make. Also, it is a list of mistakes I made in my career. I hope this is useful for any person involved in product design. Please use this list as a guide to learn.

All right?✌️ Let’s start.

  1. You will fail if you think you don’t have anything else to learn. Remember, you are always learning. Design is an ever-changing, it pushes designers to have a strong learning attitude. Because product design is multidisciplinary (business, investing, storytelling, leadership,…) you should be open to new knowledge from different sources. Keep learning.
  2. Focusing on your weaknesses will make you feel weaker. Focusing on your strengths will make you stronger. Simple, isn’t? This is a common mistake many people make. We tend to put so much focus on improving areas we are not good at. You don’t need to be the best at everything. Sharpen those skills you know well and make that your specialty. You can always network to get the skills you need. Surround yourself with people who can help you with anything you think you need to improve; coding, illustration, marketing,… We are all different and have strengths in different areas. Take advantage of your strengths.
  3. Pay attention to small details, small details count!! User flows and conversion rates are most important, but also it is to make a layout that looks consistent and balance, find the right typography and work with color palettes.
  4. Don’t put all your energy on learning to code (JavaScript, HTML, CSS,..). As a professional product designer your discipline and expertise is design; visual communication, creative thinking, problem-solving, user interaction design, user interface design UI and user experience design UX. Coding and engineering are important, nobody is saying the contrary, but your expertise is the design part of building a product. Economy your energy to design the best possible solutions.
  5. Users and customer matter the most. As a product designer, you are the voice of the users (customers). Thus the main goal for a product designer should be to make complex tasks simple, the ordinary extraordinary and to create beautiful human experiences. Easy to say, hard to accomplish.
  6. Communicate design. Keep communicating design processes to others. If necessary, create workshops, talks, events, meetups and prepare presentations. Design working processes might not be familiar to other people working with you. Having a communicative attitude will help people understand the reasoning behind product design decision-making.
  7. Never accept a job without making enough research about the culture of the company their weaknesses, strengths, and opportunities. Think how do you see yourself in the future after working with on a specific position for about 5+ years. Do you see yourself growing? Improving your social network? Keep that in mind when accepting a job offer. When on a job interview ask the right questions. You are about to commit to a project and you should be sure where you are getting into.
  8. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask lots of questions until you understand things quite clear. Ask lots of questions until you can explain a project or a problem is a very simple way. Product design is about making things simpler, the more you understand a problem the better you can solve it, the better you can explain it, the better you can help the users navigate through it.
  9. Understand businesses and organizations; companies, investment, management, financing, and leadership. This will give your product design a unique perspective and will help your design work.
  10. Never go to the comfort zone, find alternative solutions to a design problem. There are lots of solutions to a single problem, your work is to find solutions and then choose the best one through iterations.
  11. Speak up when things are going wrong. Do not let technology dictate product design solutions. You are the voice of the user and most users do not care (they don’t need to) about technology. Speak when a team makes assumptions about a product design problem without the right research; user testing, A/B tests, analysis, heat maps, etc.
  12. Make an effort to search for metrics and other user research and don’t waste time creating designs that look good as mockups but don’t add any value to the product. Look for convincing results that come from user experience research and data analysis. Learn metrics for product design.

That’s my list so far which I hope it might help other designers in the future. Most of the points above I learned by making mistakes and from my own failures which is the best way to learn.

Hope you don’t make mistakes on your product design work, and if you do, remember what Ray Dalio in Principles says; Pain + Reflection = Progress. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Raúl M. Vicente

Written by

Product Designer for Web & Mobile. http://raulmv.com