Digital product designers work in a delicate space that straddles the line between programmer and artist, embracing aspects of both realms. As the designers for products including software, websites, and mobile apps, they are at least partially responsible for their product's visual style, user interface, and features. Digital product designers usually answer to product managers, and are kept on task by project managers.
Taking into account the initial direction provided by a product manager, the digital product designer builds a wireframe, or initial mockup, of the product. Successful pitches receive funding, which allows digital product designers to continue fleshing out the wireframe into a fully fledged product—or toss it away and start fresh. This type of work typically involves a mix of skills, including programming, graphic design, and user experience.
At a Glance
Becoming a digital product designer generally requires a strong portfolio or track record as a developer, though a degree in computer science, engineering, or a related subject can make candidates more attractive to employers. For those who create audio tools, having a music education is a tremendous asset; who better to design audio tools than those who use them?
Experienced digital product designers might become product managers, UX designers, or creative directors.
Digital product designers might work for tech companies, app developers, game developers, music software companies, music streaming services, and more. Becoming a digital product designer typically requires a strong portfolio or track record as a developer.
- Web design and development
- Software/app design and development
- UX design
- Graphic design
- Written and verbal communication
- Personnel management
Digital product designers combine the best aspects of developers and graphic designers with an intuitive creativity that allows them to take charge and innovate on products within set guidelines. As developers they must be detail oriented, and as leaders they need to be able to see the bigger picture. As with most leadership roles, it's helpful to have strong communication skills and the ability to delegate tasks effectively.
Digital product designers tend to work out of an office or from home. While their consistent 10:00 am.-to-6:00 p.m. hours might look cushy on paper, this is a results-oriented field, meaning that digital product designers are likely to work significant overtime when going up against deadlines. This sort of production cycle is fairly common in the web/software development field, so most are used to it by the time they take the reins on their own product.