What Makes A Great Product Designer

To provide guidance about the opportunities for career development and personal growth within the Product Designer role at Thumbtack, we drafted a description of what makes a product designer great. We’ve published it below, unedited, in case it’s of any use to others.

Below are the qualities that make for a great product designer. They’re meant to build on the basic role requirements and serve as guidance as you grow at Thumbtack. One should think of this level of “greatness” as a principal- or staff-level designer. These are certainly not requirements for designers earlier in their careers, but rather a north star for what good looks like.


Gets things done, fails fast, prioritizes the right work to maximize value, and follows through; projects measurably push the business forward

  • Bias for action, works with a sense of urgency and steady forward momentum
  • A tenacious focus on how one’s work impacts users and the business, how it fits into the company’s strategy, and how to maximize impact in a given period of time
  • A track record of delivering highly impactful product and feature launches that contribute significantly to moving core metrics for the company
  • Continuously challenges our product’s status quo to get us to the ideal future state
  • Can be counted on to figure it out and deliver no matter what

Craft Expertise

Produces high quality design work — balancing usability, beauty, relevance, and delight

  • Exhibits big picture product and business sense; demonstrates deep understanding of the product from a user’s perspective
  • Deeply empathetic towards our pros and customers — their lives, their values, their needs — based on research, data, and intuition
  • Synthesizes a wide variety of inputs like analytics, customer support, and user research into a clearly defined user problem
  • Asks penetrating questions that get to the heart of the matter
  • Owns their design process and takes responsibility for building up their context
  • Can identify areas of opportunity to differentiate and delight
  • Takes a holistic, systems-based approach
  • Able to synthesize varying user, business, and stakeholder priorities, articulate pros and cons of different approaches and arrive at an elegant solution
  • Comfortable designing, building, and testing in an iterative way to learn and adapt
  • Executes with such excellence, others are inspired and motivated to raise the bar for their work
  • After shipping, ensures that their designs actually solved the business or user problem and make sense within the whole system, and if not, proactively drives the necessary improvements


Works well with others within their team and across teams, communicates effectively, invites feedback, helps others, and is humble

  • Clearly and succinctly articulates thoughts in both written and verbal communication across design critiques, presentations, Slack, email, etc.
  • Provides direct, constructive, and compassionate feedback
  • Is open and accepting of other team members’ ideas, knowledge, and leadership; makes judgments based on merit, not provenance
  • Finds ways to draw the best ideas and feedback out of others
  • Proactively looks for opportunities to assist others and knows when to ask for help
  • Respectful of diverse backgrounds, points of view, and social styles
  • Embodies a “We, not I” attitude
  • Trusted by cross-functional peers and team leads to make sound design and product decisions


Takes ownership of projects and processes end-to-end, drives them to completion; proactively finds high leverage problems and initiates thoughtful solutions

  • Embraces uncertainty; works collaboratively and iteratively to turn ambiguous, high-level ideas into concrete execution plans and into solid deliverables
  • Takes initiative in identifying problems, proposing sensible solutions with solid rationales, and driving cross-functional teams to make quality user experience decisions
  • Uses design to drive thought leadership and create product vision beyond the immediate future
  • Builds consensus on how to tackle complex problems and move projects forward, both within and across team boundaries
  • Resilient in the face of obstacles; tenacious and resourceful about making progress, even when faced with blockers like limited engineering resources
  • Strongly motivates others about how their work contributes to the big picture, what’s possible, and why it’s important
  • Mentors others to be creatively pragmatic and scrappy to find solutions

Design Citizenship

Doing the important things that are not just cool new projects: interviewing, mentoring, improving process, and evolving tools across the design team

  • Shares knowledge through brownbag sessions, presentations, blog posts, and team meetings.
  • Coaches other designers through whiteboarding sessions, in-person crits, comments in InVision, and answering questions on Slack or email
  • Evangelizes Thumbtack Design best practices such as utilizing Thumbprint, designing mobile first, or following our design principles
  • Identifies deficiencies in Thumbprint, offers solutions, sees through the implementation, and disseminates knowledge of the revised pattern to the other designers
  • Proactively volunteers for initiatives and efforts that affect the entire team such as recruiting, interviewing, supporting public events, etc.
  • Notably growing in non-design areas of knowledge such as marketing, SEO, engineering, or business to become a better, more well-rounded teammate

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P.S. We’re hiring Product Designers. Join us!