Careers in Digital Product Design.

November 28th 2022

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  • Together with the recent interest in Metaverse, the new digital era has just started. We can expect the birth of the new branches of Digital Product Design and increased demand for professionals in this area in the future.

  • In this article, we explain Digital Product Design and the three key elements of the design process.

  • We also list market areas in which this design is in demand at the moment.

  • Lastly, we list the skills expected from a Digital Product Designer and introduce free tools that can help you become a professional in this field.

Why Do Careers In Digital Product Design Are Becoming Hot Today?

When Mark Zuckerberg officially renamed Facebook to Meta in November 2021 and announced the plans to create a fully functional Metaverse, he gave the beginning to an explosion of new potential digital career opportunities in such domains as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and NFT space.

This is only the top of the iceberg, as this new digital era has just started and we can expect new subgenera of Digital Product Design and increased demand for professionals in this area in the future.

What is a Digital Product?

In simple words, a digital product could be any service that we can just use digitally, not physically. As opposed to physical products, digital products are objects that people may purchase, download, or utilize via a mobile application, website, or other technology platforms. Computer programs, music-producing software, smartphone applications, and video games are all examples of digital products.

Digital products literally surround us while we spend time online. Shopping on Amazon, booking a ride from Uber, booking a room from Airbnb, and ordering meals from UberEats are all real life examples of digital products. As technology progresses and makes digital products scalable, more businesses may opt to manufacture digital products and participate in this dynamic market.

What is Digital Product Design?

Digital product design is used to produce digital products that satisfy customer needs, preferences, or priorities. This requires an in-depth understanding of consumers’s needs and emotions, and the mental process that they go through during their digital experiences.

Design is critical in the development process, because it may help us attract new consumers as well as retain current customers.

Which Area of the IT Industry Are Most Welcoming to the Products Designers?

1. Virtual Reality (VR).

Virtual reality, sometimes known as VR, is a technology that generates a virtual world. It is a computer-generated simulation of an environment or 3-dimensional space in which people may interact.

People can participate in virtual reality by wearing VR goggles or utilizing other mobile devices. Special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen or goggles, is required to interact. To fully experience virtual reality and be able to explore the virtual space in a realistic way, the user must wear gloves or a suit equipped with sophisticated sensors.

2. Augmented Reality (AR).

Augmented reality (AR) is the Virtual Reality taken to the next level. AR is a technologically augmented representation of the virtual physical environment created using digital visual components, music, or other sensory stimulation such as smells or touch (also known as haptic input). It is an emerging trend within businesses involved with smartphones, mainly commercial products.

Today, AR has a wide range of application, ranging from architecture, through education, visual arts, entertainment industry (video games), commerce, tourism and virtual sightseeing, medicine (human-computer interfaces), industrial manufacturing, to flight and military training.

3. Non-Fungible Token (NFT).

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are non-fungible cryptographic assets built on blockchain technology. They are usually created and issued using the same programming languages and cryptographic tools as cryptocurrencies. Since they are non-fungible, they cannot be swapped or traded in the same way as other cryptographic assets.

NFTs are typically represented by artwork, graphics, photographies, and other, more complex digital objects — hence, NFT space is welcoming to Digital Object Designers.

The Three Key Elements of Digital Product Design.

1. System Design.

On a high level, system design is focused on the problem that the digital product aims to address. Only after formulating the problem to solve, we would consider how to develop a new product that solves a real problem and has a potential for achieving the product-market fit.

For example, if we wish to create a laundry service app, we would first consider the problem we want to solve. In this case, the issue would be dirty laundry and the limited time that busy professionals can spare for their household chores.

2. Process Design.

Going one level deeper, process design is all about determining the steps required for the end-user to complete an order or achieve their goal. Again, one has to evaluate your consumers’ and your business’s demands, attempting to balance them.

For example, your laundry app’s checkout process will almost certainly contain upselling choices — such as ironing services, expedited services et cetera — and we will want to find a method to incorporate these upsell options without risking leads who walk away from purchase.

3. Interface Design.

Once we have worked out the system and the procedures, it is time to dig into interface design, and design a user-friendly, engaging, and visually appealing interface that will bring high customer satisfaction and keep high customer retention.

What Background Is Required to Become a Digital Product Designer?

Digital Product Design is a classic example of a “lean career.” Namely, it is a profession that you can enter without finishing a study program or a course, getting a specialistic license, and applying for your first job.

You become a Digital Product Designer by taking simple gigs and assisting senior Digital Product Designers first and learning from them in the process.

However, if you have a degree in Digital Product Design, then you may start your career journey toward digital product design in the IT industry right away. However, not every university offers possibilities to study in this direction. For relevant Master programs in Digital Product Design, you can browse the FindAMasters database.

If you have never studied Digital Product Design and you don’t have time and resources to do so, don’t worry — in this profession, talent and passion are way more important than education!

If you have a degree in Computer Science, Software Engineering, or other relevant programs that require programming, or you learned programming by another occasion, your can start into the career in Digital Product Design is relatively easy.

It will be enough to take a relevant course, such as the following courses from Skillshare:

1. “Strategic Digital Product Design.”

In today’s world full of digital experiences, user-centered design matters more than ever before. However, designing a positively impactful product is harder than it sounds.

In this course, a Senior Product Designer Catt Small will teach you how to design user experiences in a more iterative, agile, brand-centered way that highlights potential problems early and leads to long-term success.

2. “Digital Product Design: Create a Compelling UX Portfolio | Learn with Figma.”

A career in Product Design always starts with a compelling, curated portfolio — your portfolio is your secret weapon helping you communicate your strengths, go after the work you want, and land your next role. Whether you are new to the field or have been working in UI/UX for years, you can learn how to amp up your portfolio and stand out from the crowd.

In this class, product designer Tom Lowry and Figma take you through the process from beginning to end. From honing your story to presentation tips for interviews, you will discover the nuts and bolts of how to craft a portfolio that is thoughtfully designed, communicates effectively, and showcases your work for the people who matter.

3. “Digital Product Design: Build a Flexible Design System That Lasts.”

Now more than ever before designers developers and product managers are using design systems to improve and simplify their work. Through clear guidelines and easy-to-use components design systems keep everyone aligned enabling everyone to spend less time on repeating tasks and more time on the creative work that matters.

In this course, web developer Brad Frost teaches his “The Atomic Design method” for how you can build a truly flexible effective system that lasts. After working with many organizations to develop customized design systems Brad saw the need for a straightforward approach that anyone could use to create a more effective system from scratch.

* * *

Remember that whichever courses or study program you eventually choose, you will need to demonstrate your talent and experience by showing your portfolio. Therefore, it is a good idea to choose courses that have deliverables and allow you to create complete Digital Products that you can add to your private portfolio after the course.

What Essential Skills Are Required to Become a Digital Product Designer?

To become a professional Digital Product Designer, you must excel in several domains.

Fundamental (or, Hard) Skills.

  • Software/app design and development,
  • Graphic design,
  • Prototyping,
  • Written and verbal communication skills,
  • Web design and development,
  • UX/UI design,
  • Visual design.

Personal (or, Soft) Skills.

  • Empathy (necessary to understand the user),
  • Self-motivation (necessary to work on your own),
  • Leadership / management skills (necessary by team projects),
  • The ability to learn on your own (necessary to constantly build your skills),
  • Communication skills (necessary to understand both the customer’s and the employer’s or client’s demands),
  • Data-driven decision-making (necessary to iteratively improve the design during the project),
  • Flexibility and ability to compromise (necessary to kill the babies and start over if the design contains fundamental errors or omissions, or doesn’t meet the client’s standards),
  • Sense of aesthetic (necessary to create classy, elegant designs).

Software Necessary in Digital Product Design.

As a Digital Product Designer, you can work from everywhere and for anyone. But which software is best to learn Digital Product Design and start a professional practice? In online tutorials on Product Design, you can find dozens of suggested software packages for Product Designers. 

But in fact, you will only need a few of them. The programs listed below will fully cover all your needs as a professional Product Designer:

1. Figma.

Figma is the leading free collaborative application for interface design, focused on user interface and user experience design. It offers real-time collaboration tools, prototyping tools, and helpful online community.

Designers enjoy working with Figma as it is easy to learn (and offers free tutorials) and browser-based and doesn’t require installing any applications locally. It also offers designers full control over all the design elements, spacing, alignment, typography, and colors.

2. Blender.

Blender is a leading free and open-source 3D computer graphics software tool set used for creating art, animated films, visual effects, 3D-printed models, motion graphics, interactive 3D applications, virtual reality, and video games.

Designers enjoy using Blender as it is an all-in-one environment for modeling, animation, sculpting, video-editing, creating new textures and video effects, and more.

It is also highly stable, allows you to save your work in real time, and supports dozens of file formats. It also includes extensive educational materials and community support resources.

3. Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe Creative Cloud is a subscription-based bundle of online applications and services from Adobe Inc. for graphic design, video editing, web development, photography, and also some optional cloud services.

Adobe Creative Cloud is not free but it is quality for money as it offers a whole bundle of professional tools at affordable prices, and includes free updates, cloud storage, and collaboration tools. You can also use your subscription plan from multiple devices.

Steps / Tips to Start Your Very First Project in Digital Product Design.

  • Make sure that the whole team is on the same page about the issue.
  • Create a clear goal for the product together.
  • Align digital design objectives with corporate goals.
  • Examine the targeted audience.
  • Come up with solutions that catch the eye.
  • Determine the most likely pitfalls and difficulties.
  • Define the success measures for your product, or the Key Performance Indicators.
  • Propose your product design roadmap and your team to revise it.

The Most Awaited Part: How Much Can a Digital Product Designers Earn?

According to Glassdoor, an inexperienced Graphic Designer can earn around $102,610 annually in the US, while the experienced Graphic Designers can earn $111,058 annually. If you have academic background in Digital Product Design and 15+ years of experience, you can count on a lavish salary of $130,711 per annum.

It doesn’t need mentioning that careers in Digital Product Design give you extra perks such as the possibility to work remotely.

Summary: Is It worth To Get Involved in the Digital Product Design?

In the future, we as professionals will need to compete with AI and machine learning for jobs. However, Digital Product Design is one of the most creative branches of IT industry.

As such, it is less likely to be replaced by AI any time soon than many other branches of IT. It is, in a way, creativity in the digital world impersonated. So, if you wish to try yourself in creating new digital worlds, now is the time to do so!

Lastly, Digital Product Design is just one of many careers that you can start without a university degree. Please find more information in our article “High Paying Jobs Without Degree: How To Start a Career Without Higher Education?

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Please cite as:

Siddiqui, H., Bielczyk, N. (2022, November 28th). Careers in Digital Product Design. Retrieved from https://ontologyofvalue.com/careers-in-digital-product-design

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