Product Designer: Explained

In this article, I present a data-driven analysis of what it means to be a Product Designer. The analysis is based on job ads from companies such as Apple, Facebook, Ford, Netflix and Paypal.

When a company is hiring a designer, what do they look for? What do they expect a designer will do? What skills a designer should have?

Those are exactly the questions I will answer now, based on a data-driven analysis of job advertisements. If you want to know more about the method and what I mean by data-driven analysis, I wrote a separate article explaining it.

Design job titles: Explained
A data-driven approach to understand four design job titles: Product, UX, UI and Visual Designer. by Paulo Dziobczenski. Founder of

In short: Much has been said about what it means to be a Product/UX/UI/Visual designer. Many designers have written wonderful articles before. I am taking a different approach: I look at what companies say in their job advertisements.

Now, back to Product design.

What Product Designers do?

Product Designers are generalists.

They work throughout the whole design process: They do research at the beginning to find out more about the customers’ needs, get involved in ideation, build prototypes, test it with users and oversee the implementation.

Facebook and Beekeeper requests for Product Designers

Moving to more specifics, I started counting how many times each request showed up in the data set. Here are the top 5 requests:

Top 5 Outcomes for Product Designers: User Research, UX, UI, Prototyping, Design system

User Research

User Research is the Product Designers' super power, as it was present in almost all job advertisements.

Product Designers design, conduct and analyze research. Some examples:

Apple and Ford look for User Research work from Product designers

User Experience (UX)

Product Designers shape the UX of products and services.

Cookpad and Luckyduck look for UX work from Product designers

User Interface (UI)

Product Designers get their 'hands-dirty' by designing interfaces.

Apple and Cookpad look for UI work from Product designers


On top of conducting research, Product Designers also design the prototypes.

Facebook and Monocl look for Prototyping work from Product designers

Design system

Product Designers work building design systems. A design system, by definition, is a 'a collection of reusable components, guided by clear standards, that can be assembled together to build any number of applications'.

Cora and Loop+ look for Design Systems work from Product designers

What a Product Designer needs to know?

Product Designers need to have a varied range of skills to do their jobs. For example, Product Designers need to have 'communication' to conduct research.

Think about these skills as some necessary layers (or mindsets) for designers to do their work. As you can see on the Top 5 below, not only design skills:

Top 5 Skills for Product Designers: Communication, Business, Visual Design, Data-driven design and User-centered design


Product Designers rarely work alone. By working in teams, having communication skills are key for doing the job.

The Economist and Netflix look for Communication skills from Product designers


Product Designers need to speak business and understand how their work affect their clients' businesses.

Nubank and Skipthedishes look for Business skills from Product designers

Visual design

Product Designers are designers after all, right? Fabricio Teixeira from the UX Collective already talked about how (some) designers are distancing themselves from 'craft'.

Paypal and Caffeine look for Visual Design skills from Product designers


Product Designers base their design decisions on data.

Netflix and Etmoney look for Data-driven design skills from Product designers

User-centered design

Product Designers are advocate for the users. User-centered design is a method/skill to help designers put their users at the center.

Canva and Ford look for User-centered design skills from Product designers

What else is in the skill set of a Product Designer?

Product Designers also need to carry some other skills in their skill set, such as Coding, Design Thinking, Project Management, Copywriting:

Others skills companies look in Product Designers: Coding, Design Thinking, Project Management, Copywriting

What software Product Designers use?

Top 3 Software for Product Designers: #1 Sketch, #2 Figma and #3 Invision

Product Designers use Sketch, Figma and InVision. More traditional tools, such as the ones found in the Adobe Creative Cloud, showed up in only 1 out of every 10 job ads.

Where do these answers come from?

The data for this article comes from 50 job advertisements from 19 countries

I analyzed 50 job advertisements for Product Designers found on LinkedIn. These job ads came from 19 countries from North and South America, Europe and Asia. Some companies are very well-known (Apple, Facebook, Ford, Netflix and Paypal) while some others were new (at least to me).The full list of companies can be found here.


#1 Product Designers are experienced designers.

Product Designers do many different activities and carry skills ranging from design to business. For that reason, Product Design is not a job for entry-level professionals. It is probably better to get a hold of the many different activities and skills before moving to Product Design.

#2 Every company is different and their recruitment needs are different.

Each company is different. A company hiring their first Product Designer have very different needs than one looking to hire their 100th Product Designer.

In this article, I have mentioned over 10 different skills/activities/software. But do not panic, not all companies will ask you to know it all.

To illustrate how companies might differ in their requirements, here is a comparison between some of the requests made by Apple, Facebook, Ford, Netflix and Paypal in a Product Design position.

Apple, Facebook, Ford, Netflix and Paypal requests for Visual Designers: sometimes similar, sometimes different.

As you can see, companies might emphasize some skills more than others when hiring. The recommendation here is to spend some time researching the companies you are interested and what they are looking for. Which skills do they look for? Then make sure to build those skills and not all the possible skills :)

Jack Butcher

If you liked this article, I recommend to check the other guides I wrote looking at the UI, UX and Visual Design careers.

UI Designer: Explained

UX Designer: Explained

Visual Designer: Explained
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I'm Paulo Dziobczenski, the founder of Let's connect on LinkedIn or Twitter. 😉