I am a product designer

I am a product designer. That may have been apparent to you, but when I realised this on Monday, it ended months of professional identity crisis. The realisation was occurring slowly over the weekend, but hit that Eureka moment while reading the first chapter of Making a product designer from InVision. I can’t tell you how much relief and understanding this brought me. It was almost as amazing as when I learned that I have an INTP personality type.

I’ve switched between calling myself a user experience designer and a product designer for the last 2 years, and haven’t felt comfortable with either title. Prior to joining UXFoundry, professional titles were easy – graphic designer, motion-graphic designer, web designer, interactive designer.

My personality type, design sensibility, focus on product design (as opposed to web design), ability to code, and drive to make amazing products for real people has often made me wonder what I really am. I solve problems, come up with ideas, create wireframes, design interfaces, make prototypes, write code, and have even learned how to use the command line. I now know that a product designer will do whatever it takes to get a superior product out there – even it means wading through the muddy waters of a node and npm command line interface installation with Homebrew, n, David and whatever else I did (it felt muddy to me, okay).

With my professional identity secured, it’s given me a desire to grow and lead as a product designer. My mission now is to become an amazing product designer. One of the top things on my become an amazing product designer list is to address where user experience fits into a product designer’s life. I typically do very little user research or usability testing (gasp). I typically design experiences I feel are best. I am a user, after all, but my design tastes change often (that’s why I don’t have tattoos) and I get frustrated when I can’t rationalise my design decisions. I think of experiences as a set of minute interactions, which I try to iteratively and incrementally perfect. But what’s surfacing over and over recently is the notion of what if my nice design isn’t the best for the user? How do I know what’s the best? How do I measure? How do I know? How do I know what matters? How do I know what’s important?

Last week’s UXploration start

Last week I started researching user experience, asking questions of it and writing about it. I had grand plans for the topic. One of the questions I wanted an answer for was whether I was a UX designer or not. And if not, what? I guess it was part of the thought process that triggered my moment of enlightenment.

I’ve since back-tracked. I removed the article I posted because, in hindsight, I’d approached it incorrectly. I’m now ready to have a second stab at #UXploration. I’m still wanting to investigate user experience, but I now have a focused question:

Through principles of user experience design, how can I become a better product designer?

That’s the start I was looking for.