Planning on becoming a successful digital product designer? Then you’re on the right page. At Plant, while we make sure our products are built in other to meet our users’ requirements and provide the best user experience possible, we also have our eyes on nurturing our designers to become successful at product designing. Just like every other professional field, professionals did not become successful just like that; they possess skills and industrial experiences that make them successful.

Digital product design as a field is competitive and has got a lot of smart minds in it. While one can argue that templates are increasingly making things easier for designers, I beg to differ that in the world of product designing, for you to be successful, you need not be mediocre. You need to build yourself from the ground up and make sure you equip yourself with the required skill, experience, and knowledge. Five of these are discussed below.

Prototyping Skills

I do not know how good you are, and I am not in any way trying to hone my own skills myself. But believe you me, there was a time I design a complete website without a single prototype. Not even a rough sketch. But guess what? I wasted a lot of time, energy, and brainpower trying to think of designs, keep them on my head, and replicate them in reality. That was in the past now — prototyping has become a part of my workflow, and collaborators have to prototype too.

When it comes to prototyping, you need to learn the art behind it. You need to know how to build Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) to test your ideas. This could be just a landing page. You should also learn how to build a prototype using a pen and paper. Just make sure you have a prototype and an MVP before proceeding to build something big. This will help keep you straight and avoid wasting time.

UI/UX Design Skill

Make no mistake about it; products you design are all about you and your thoughts, but about your users and their thoughts. Because of this, you have to be good in User Experience (UX) designs. You need to put yourself in the shoes of a user and see how you will react to your own product. For a better User Experience design, you need to be good with User Interface (UI) design. You need to be good with color usage and psychology.

If you are able to design products with good UI and UX designs, users will find the product easy to use. For you to design a good UX, you need to understand your users. Take, for instance, if the bulk of your users are living in Africa — probably using mobile Opera Mini browsers that do not render Javascript the way it should, you will be doing yourself a disservice if you make your website JavaScript rich. Going with a simple design will do. But for sites with most of the users surfing using Chrome and Safari, you can go ahead and Ajaxify everything and the site, and it will provide them a better user experience.

User Research

You are a product designer, designing products to be used by some people. Who are those people? What do you know about them? And how will they react to your product? If you have not been thinking toward these directions in the past, it is time you start, especially if you want to become a successful product designer. You need to know how to carry out a comprehensive research about your ideal users. You also need to put into consideration of non-ideal users that will end up using your product.

User analytics is important, and the metrics gotten can be used in fine-tuning. Some times, this becomes the most important data you put into use when upgrading your previous design. When you have got a lot of users to use previous versions of your product, it is easier to provide a better upgrade since you have user usage data in the form of analytics to use. Without user research skills, you will have problems understanding your users, and as such, you can’t really meet their needs.

Collaboration is Key

As a product designer, you will most likely work with other professionals and product designer as yourself. How well do you relate to these people? Are you the type that sees good only in yourself and bad in others? Then you can hardly become successful as a product designer. You need to learn how to work with others and do so with an open mind. Be ready to understand peoples’ opinions and also put out yours for others to take.

This then means that you must be ready to be criticized. When criticized, you need to be able to know if the criticism is constructive in nature or put forward to bring you down. If it is constructive in nature, learn how to appreciates it, and make corrections. When you are criticizing others, make sure you choose your words carefully and avoid hurting the feelings of the people you’re criticizing his work — and make sure you focus only on the work and not on his person.

Sticking to Best Practices

As a product designer, you need to know the industrial best practices and sticking to them. There is no better way of showing you are an amateur than not conforming to standards in the product design industry. When it comes to best practices and standards, there are many of them. And new ones are being introduced. Because of this, you need to be informed about trends in the industry. To do this, you have to attend seminars, conferences, and designers’ workshops. You also have to read blogs, articles, and books written for designers.

The goal of every reasonable product designer is to be successful in the field as a designer. For you to become successful, there are some things you need to know and practices you need to embrace. At Plant, we make sure the above five are taken care of. Regardless of if you are part of a product design team or a loner working as a freelancer, you need to have these in mind.