After almost a decade of working on digital products across various industries, meeting almost 100+ leading designers from different fields, and going through 10,000+ portfolios in the last 3 years of Fluidesigns, our founder astutely recognized a recurring pattern of feedback. This invaluable insight emerged as a guiding compass when empowering both aspiring and seasoned designers to elevate their Product Design prowess, specifically in the realm of UI/UX Design.
The idea arose to document these insights as a testament to becoming a good product designer, with a clear articulation of the traits that distinguish between good and bad product designers.
Predictability and Time Management
- Good product designers have a good sense of predictability in terms of how much can be achieved and in what time frame. In extreme cases if they have apprehension of missing the deadlines they inform in advance to their seniors and restructure the plans aligned to the business goals and vision of the product
- Bad Product Designers are not very good at scoping and predicting their own efforts. They miss deadlines very frequently and it seems not to affect them all. Consistently missing these deadlines keeps piling up design debt which becomes very difficult to complete for them as well as their seniors'
Attention to Detail
- Good product designers have a good eye for detail. Generally, the designs made by them have fewer defects and misses
- On the other hand, bad product designers lack this attention to detail, often overlooking crucial aspects and delivering subpar designs
- Good Product designers are amazing at taking notes. They are generally good at typing and can type as someone speaks but that doesn’t mean that they don’t follow the conversation. They are actively involved in the discussion at the typing is done through their muscle memory. They don’t spend too much time on the notes after the meeting as it would be redundant to spend another hr to go through the meeting. They have a very well-structured process of keeping and organizing notes as well and they actively share it with their peers
- Good Product Designers tend to adapt to the client/product/project as every client/product/project is different in terms of phase of the product life cycle, phase of the company, and the mindset of stakeholders
- In contrast, bad product designers fail to adjust their approach and treat every project as a one-size-fits-all scenario
- Good Product Designers are very good at asking questions, through their experience from their own work or others they learnt the art of asking questions. They understand asking questions is important but it shouldn’t affect their peers and create a sense of frustration among others. They ask a lot of questions during the meeting itself and do not wait for later to go through the meeting to try to understand any doubt or don’t just rely on others to help them understand later. They don’t just ask questions to stand out or give a perception of understanding the topic, they are genuinely interested in the discussion and don’t want to leave anything for later. They are the ones generally people approach after the meeting for clarifications and to exchange notes
Experimentation and Iteration
- Bad product designers just go ahead with the first possible idea that comes across their minds and are happy after that. They don’t experiment beyond their first iteration even if it’s awful as they expect their peers to point it out later
- Bad Product Designers don’t question the stakeholders’ feedback even if they feel it is not right. They think it might offend them
- Bad Product Designers’ first response to any feedback or suggestion is a big ‘NO’ without listening to it with an open mind. They believe that their idea is the best and others are not even worth pursuing. They have a very lazy attitude towards work and try to avoid any change
- Bad Product Designers don’t look at competitors or references as they believe they are the best and their design is one of its kind or they are too lazy
- Good Product Designers on the other hand are never satisfied with their designs and ideas and they consistently seek inspiration, ideas and feedback to help them improve their craft. They don’t get a good night's sleep if they believe in not putting 100% in some design
- Good Product Designers are very good at navigating the internet to find the best inspirations and people to learn from. Generally, they don’t just stop at the first page of Google and go beyond that to find the best thing. It doesn’t mean they are blinded to perfection, rather they have a very good sense of time being invested in this process. So, they are able to find the best resources in the least amount of time. They are very good at typing keywords in Google to reach their destination, (could be Dribbble, Muzli or any other platform)
- Good product designers don’t shy away from going through tons of products to broaden their perspective
- Good Product Designers are driven just and just by delivering top-notch designs
- Bad Product Designers just see it as a task and just try to get done with it
Feedback and Reflection
- Good Product Designers are very good at taking feedback from their peers and customers as they know feedback is being given to their designs/products, not to them and their skills. They reflect on themselves, internalise the feedback and work on it consistently and permanently not just for a few days or weeks.
- Bad product designers don’t take the feedback very well, they feel another person is targeting them personally and want them to feel bad. They make excuses and fail to embrace opportunities for improvement.
- Bad product designers are very bad at giving feedback to their peers, they don’t prepare beforehand to give someone feedback and they just say whatever comes to their mind at that moment. As they are not very good at articulating, their peers might not take it well
- Good Product designers understand the importance of motion design, interactions, states etc as these are things that make static designs into an experience
- Good product designers are platform-agnostic and domain agnostic
- Good Product Designers try to use their products actively
- Good Product Designers don’t make the same mistake more than twice
- Good Product Designers take ownership of the product and design it as if it was their own. That helps them leave no stone unturned to make the product excellent
- Good Product Designers make their own checklists, don’t miss any of them how big or small the task is. They love striking off the checklist so from time to time they keep going back to it to not miss anything
- Good Product Designers have a heightened sense of observation skills and they actively try to observe things in their environment. They are not limited to the digital world, they try to observe the physical world as well: architecture, physical products, processes, nature etc
- Good Product Designers are very good at dissecting good product designs which help them understand what is making the design good
Tools & Software
- Good Product Designers understand the importance of tools, as the better you are with the tools, the easier it will be for you to bring your idea to life, test and iterate
- Good Product Designers are always on the lookout for improving and speeding up their workflow. They are constantly looking for tutorials and generally, they are the first ones to try any new feature. They also don’t shy away from tinkering with new tools. They are not just fascinated by them, they also try to incorporate that into their current workflow
- Bad Product Designers feel their job is done once they have delivered the designs to the client or the development team
- Good Product Designers understand it’s only half done now as a lot of things change once it undergoes development and designs need to be adapted to the capability and time of their tech team. They are constantly involved in the development process and give regular feedback to make it pixel-perfect and aligned with their designs. They are not hell-bent on their designs as they believe in the best possible experience for their users and make changes if required
Design Presentation & Meetings
- Good Product Designers are very good at giving a walk-through of their designs, they understand which parts require special attention from the stakeholders. They specifically call out those sections and drive a discussion around them. To speed up the conversation they also put forward the pros and cons of that particular design
- Bad Product Designers are in a hurry and they just want to get it done quickly. They just show the designs, keep quiet and let stakeholders understand the design by themselves. Since the designers think through every element of the product, they know what’s going on and assume their stakeholders also understand everything by just looking for the first time and in a meeting of an hr or so
- Good product designers prepare well for their presentations, they do a mock presentation and prepare a script and structure of the presentation to orchestrate the meeting. They come prepared with the possible questions to be asked.
- Good product designers come prepared for the meetings especially when it’s the first meeting of a new product, they do thorough research about the company, and product and check the background of the people invited to the meeting
- Good product designers define the agenda of the meeting and give a brief to all the invitees before starting the meeting. They drive the meeting and keep everyone involved in the conversations
- Bad Product Designers think the solution to bad communication is just too many meetings. In this process, they don’t respect the time of other people when something can be written and communicated very easily. That way it will at least save the time of their peers.
- Good product design managers just don’t just forward one file from one place to another, they also add more context to it to help people understand
- Good product designers understand their strengths and weaknesses very well. They don't hesitate to seek help from peers in the areas that they are not very good at.
Curiosity and Hunger to Learn
- Good Product Designers are very curious, they constantly keep upgrading themselves, observe the latest products, follow industry leaders, and read books and podcasts from not just design but also from various other domains to broaden their perspective
- Good product designers have a good understanding of the technical aspect of the product, which helps them to provide better solutions
- Good Product Designers are generally very good at one thing like research, idea generation or visual design and they keep looking for ways to improve it further but they are not limited to just one field design. If the work demands they are also open to exploring more pathways like interactions, content etc anything that can make their current product succeed
- Good Product Designers are very good listeners which means they are not very easily distracted
- Good Product designers have a high Emotional Quotient which means they don’t get attached to their designs. They don’t let clients’/stakeholders’/managers’ feedback affect their mental health. They ultimately know it is just work and nothing is above their health
- Good product designers are very proactive in terms of communication and actions. They don’t wait for their seniors to assign a task rather they actively seek things which can improve the product experience or make the project move forward
- Good product designers understand the brief or instructions given by their seniors and follow them accurately. If they feel something is not right, they directly communicate with their senior and do not hold it back till the end
- Good product designers’ files are clean, hygienic and easy to navigate. Their files have a clear thumbnail, and an index, sticky notes for design documentation, and properly grouped assets
- Bad Product Designers’ files are a mess, they don’t clean their files often, only they can understand and find designs in their files
- Bad Product Designers are not very consistent with the UI Elements, Typography etc. They tend to use multiple variations of fonts, and elements for the same purpose at different places
- Bad Product designers follow processes just for the sake of it without understanding their importance.
- Good Product designers follow processes because every step helps them refine the idea and vision of the product and helps to get the stakeholders on the same page
- Good Product designers find a very good balance to manage their team and simultaneously work on their designs as well.
- Bad Product designers require spoon-feeding at every step
In summary, being a good product designer goes beyond having design skills and knowing how to use tools. It also requires continuous improvement in areas like communication, discipline, curiosity, observation, broadening perspectives, and attention to detail. Great designers aren't born that way; most of the talented ones I've encountered are always seeking ways to improve themselves. As technology advances, designers can become outdated if they get too comfortable with their current skills.
At Fluidesigns, we're always on the lookout for talented product designers. If you possess at least 22 out of the 44 traits mentioned, we invite you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We value individuals who exhibit these qualities and are dedicated to building a team of exceptional product designers.