What is the difference between a product manager and a product designer?

Updated on : December 3, 2021 by Jasper Cortez



What is the difference between a product manager and a product designer?

This is always an interesting dynamic. I like how Dan Olsen describes the two:

the job of product management is to define the problem space; "the user problem we are trying to solve is x" y "if we create a product that makes y, people will pay us z dollars"

the job of the design is to explore the solution space (before coding begins); "here are three different approaches to solving the problem"; rapid wireframes / prototypes

I always like to think of the product manager as the user expert. The PM's job is to really understand the customer's needs and make sure the product meets the customer's needs.

Keep reading

This is always an interesting dynamic. I like how Dan Olsen describes the two:

the job of product management is to define the problem space; "the user problem we are trying to solve is x" y "if we create a product that makes y, people will pay us z dollars"

the job of the design is to explore the solution space (before coding begins); "here are three different approaches to solving the problem"; rapid wireframes / prototypes

I always like to think of the product manager as the user expert. The PM's job is to really understand the customer's needs and make sure the product meets the customer's needs. The PM must also prioritize the ideas that go into the product portfolio and make sure they are optimizing ROI.

Some companies require the PM to also act as PjM and also take care of product marketing. If this is the case, the PM work is quite substantial, as is often the case in startups. The PM can also be considered the "CEO" of the product needed to interact with design, marketing, engineering, finance, and so on.

The designer should follow the PM as the second most knowledgeable about the client. Once the PM defines the problem space, the designer works with the PM and the development team to identify the optimal manifestation of the product for the user. This requires experience not only in visual design, but also in interaction design, information architecture, and conceptual design. If this wasn't complex yet, the principles for each of these differ for content sites and web application sites.

The key is to make sure there is role clarity for both key positions. Also, I always recommend that PMs are open to getting the best ideas that may come from other PMs, designers, developers, or even the network operations person. Also, involve developers early in the process, as they appreciate being aware at an early stage.

From my experience as a product designer for start-ups and a post-acquisition start-up by WebEx, some product designers end up taking on the role of product managers when there are not enough project managers or the project managers do not have time to pay attention. to the products (some PM are consumed by the customer who takes the hand or deals with the executives, it is not their fault). But I haven't seen many PMs flow over to the design side and choose design tools when there aren't enough designers around. They probably exist; I just haven't seen one in my experience and would love to meet or work with

Keep reading

From my experience as a product designer for start-ups and a post-acquisition start-up by WebEx, some product designers end up taking on the role of product managers when there are not enough project managers or the project managers do not have time to pay attention. to the products (some PM are consumed by the customer who takes the hand or deals with the executives, it is not their fault). But I haven't seen many PMs flow over to the design side and choose design tools when there aren't enough designers around. They probably exist; I just haven't seen one in my experience and would love to meet or work with one.

Similarities:
talking to customers, understanding customer needs and goals, understanding the market and the competition, staying ahead of the innovation curve. If they're good, they should be able to tell you how the product is supposed to work even when you wake them up in the middle of the night. There are no other people in the company closer to the product as a whole than these two.

Differences:
Design skills (html, css, visual design, prototypes, wireframes, information architecture, interaction design, usability testing). PMs generally do not do this.
Financial metrics, actual release plans, expected ROI, profit and loss, managing executive expectations regarding release plans - designers generally don't do this.

Despite having said all that, it all depends on the company.

The classic distinction goes something like this:

Product Designer is responsible for how the user interacts with the product and how the product is visually presented to the user, that is, the product designer focuses on the how part of the product. While the product manager (pm) is responsible for who (primary users and markets), what (roles) and when (release plans), as well as monitoring financial and user metrics.

I find this classical distinction totally irrelevant. I have seen great product designers play the role of designer and product manager incredibly well and vice versa. I thi

Keep reading

The classic distinction goes something like this:

Product Designer is responsible for how the user interacts with the product and how the product is visually presented to the user, that is, the product designer focuses on the how part of the product. While the product manager (pm) is responsible for who (primary users and markets), what (roles) and when (release plans), as well as monitoring financial and user metrics.

I find this classical distinction totally irrelevant. I have seen great product designers play the role of designer and product manager incredibly well and vice versa. I think the most interesting role is simply that of an amazing product person and they are invariably capable of doing all of the above.

As someone who has personally hired many product managers over the years, my best hires are those who have the ability to define the how part of the product. Without being able to work with product designs in Photoshop (or better yet HTML / CSS), you end up writing the features in a formal specification that doesn't look like reality.

In the business world, I think this distinction is a little sharper than it can be in the web world. For business applications it was:

Tactically

Product manager:

Write use cases that include actors, exception streams, fields, validations
Write specs (where it makes sense)

Product Designer:

Create screen flows
Simulate screens (includes various decisions about user interface controls and patterns)

Strategically

Product manager:

Analyze markets and competitors
Prioritize different requests / requirements

Product Designer:

Research and profile different users / people
Conduct usability studies

In my previous experi

Keep reading

In the business world, I think this distinction is a little sharper than it can be in the web world. For business applications it was:

Tactically

Product manager:

Write use cases that include actors, exception streams, fields, validations
Write specs (where it makes sense)

Product Designer:

Create screen flows
Simulate screens (includes various decisions about user interface controls and patterns)

Strategically

Product manager:

Analyze markets and competitors
Prioritize different requests / requirements

Product Designer:

Research and profile different users / people
Conduct usability studies

In my previous experiences, what was delivered to engineering was a unified package of all of the above. In other cases, I have seen designers integrated into engineering teams. As discussed in other threads, more mature engineering teams often take on a good percentage of the functions of these two roles.

I agree with Ariel, a good PM can do a lot of the designer's work and vice versa.

Product Designers (as well as being involved with what features need to be built and why they need to be built in a particular way) seem to be closer to the ground with regards to the details / implementation of site features (quoting Rebekah Cox from Quora , they should be able to "build what they design")

Product managers are less involved in 'how' things are built and more involved with 'what' should be built, working with product roadmaps, specifications, etc.

Overall, the 'Product Designer' position looks like a new take on the Product Manager role, most needed in startup startups, while Pro

Keep reading

Product Designers (as well as being involved with what features need to be built and why they need to be built in a particular way) seem to be closer to the ground with regards to the details / implementation of site features (quoting Rebekah Cox from Quora , they should be able to "build what they design")

Product managers are less involved in 'how' things are built and more involved with 'what' should be built, working with product roadmaps, specifications, etc.

In general, the 'Product Designer' position seems like a new take on the Product Manager role, more needed within startups, while Product Managers can be found in larger organizations with more structure.

(PD section updated with comments from Rebekah)

I agree with Ariel Seidman and Charles Zedlewski. Their combined responses are complete and very well structured.

As you can understand, each company defines the product team in a different way, and you will often find titles such as product manager, program manager, project manager, product marketing manager, product designer, technical product manager, etc. .

As a general rule, the product designer is a supporting role for the product manager to keep the technical side and the design side of the company in sync.

The main responsibility of the product designer is to ensure that the engineer

Keep reading

I agree with Ariel Seidman and Charles Zedlewski. Their combined responses are complete and very well structured.

As you can understand, each company defines the product team in a different way, and you will often find titles such as product manager, program manager, project manager, product marketing manager, product designer, technical product manager, etc. .

As a general rule, the product designer is a supporting role for the product manager to keep the technical side and the design side of the company in sync.

The main responsibility of the product designer is to ensure that the engineering team has access to all approved designs and UX specifications in time for them to implement them.

At a Pragmatic Marketing seminar, I heard Product Manager defined as "Product CEO". I think they would also say that the Product Manager writes the requirements (what the product should do) while the Product Designer writes the functional specifications (how the product works from the user's perspective).

http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/topics/02/0204sj

As a former Product Manager, PMs need to be removed. The "who" must carry over to marketing and functions to the product designer. The "when" must be decided between marketing and the developer lead. org. based on Agile. If you use cascading then the when doesn't really matter as it won't come out on the date anyway.

Product Manager works on the why, what, when and who parts of a product and their work revolves around the product journeys. He also collaborates with the product designer on Customer Journey work to some extent.

The product designer works as part of the product development team and their work essentially revolves around the customer journey of the product.

The Product Manager is the one who knows what to do, the one who can say everything that is required. Putting all of those elements on a canvas is the responsibility of the product designer, and to achieve this, the product designer must have a good understanding of the requirement.

The product manager knows what is best for his product and how it can best be presented on screen is the job of the product designer.

Ok, I may be a bit confused here, but as a product designer I thought we design products, like things that are made physically, using electricity, heat, metal, plastic, and cardboard boxes. But everyone seems to be talking about what I would call web design. I mean, I know these things are merging, but there is not a single mention of CAD or injection mold tools here!

Other Guides:


GET SPECIAL OFFER FROM OUR PARTNER.