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The fundamental question when it comes to companies is what kind of product designers are they looking for? What are the factors required for their hiring? What talents and skills must a product designer have to make it big in the industry?

When you look at enterprises like Google, Lyft, and Uber, you can acquire straight answers to these questions. If you wish to be hired by a company by a credible company, you need to adopt a multitude of factors to further your career prospects in product design.

The primary factors are the skills inherited by these designers. Based on our survey, these skills are divided into “soft skills” and hard skills that will pave the way for product designers to obtain employment and success.

We will discuss in detail the following skills that companies are hoping to find in various product designers.

How Do We Differentiate between Hard Skills and Soft Skills?

We’re glad you asked that question.

Hard skills pertaining to product designing are quantifiable and teachable. This involves mathematics, reading, writing, and other skills that you can typically learn in school.

In digital designers’ case, hard skills revolve around the ability to use computer software programs like Photoshop, Sketch, and Figma. These hard skills also include wireframing and sketching.

Soft skills are a bit more complex when it comes to defining them. To put it in simple terms, they are the amalgamation of behaviors and personality attributes.

The term “soft skills” is often used to describe a committed team player’s more specific feature. Some of the more known soft skills include communication, collaboration, empathy, listening, and maintaining a cohesive environment.

5 Critical Soft Skills of Product Designers

1. Critical Thinking

The most important soft skill that every product designer should have in his arsenal is critical thinking.

Product designers have to brainstorm always to create new ideas and plans. Their purpose is to ensure that the concept they have created in their minds becomes a reality. Critical thinking is a part of that process. 

You will be able to critique your ideas and examine whether or not they are effective. You will determine where its flaws lie and how they can be resolved.

Once they get clarification, they can pursue the materialization of the process. Critical thinking is not limited to, creating design products. It also enhances the designer’s communication skills, where they can interact with their team and exchange ideas diligently. 

It is essential to test out your mind thinking abilities and vocally question your team’s views with respect. There is a significant distinction between constructive criticism and rudeness. Critical thinking is an asset to behavioral abilities that tests how a product designer approaches a problem and resolves them through his train of thought.

2. Communication

Communication is, by far, the number one crucial soft skill for product designers. In an industrial environment expanding with team members and workers, it is a skill that cannot be avoided. Communication abilities give us leeway to gain information from other people and help us interact with people in terms of exchanging ideas and talks. It is the epitome of how we can establish a relationship with one another.

Lack of practical communication skills leads to a tensed and conflicted work environment. It breaks team spirit and destroys the working environment in its entirety. Bad communication has resulted in zero cohesiveness, where team members engage in envious, fearful, sabotage, and enraging behaviors.

Communication is not only related to work-related discourse. It also involves friendly interaction and warm relations between team members. This enhances cooperation and allows team members to remain focused and concentrated on the design at hand.

Personality also falls under communicative skills. You need to have an approachable trait that makes it easier for others to connect with you and convey their ideas and concerns regarding the design. This gives the work environment a natural flow with a positive environment.

 It is also incumbent upon designers to establish a strong bond with their managers and team leads. Communicate with them with respect and never fear expressing your concerns or ideas related to the product design. If your communication skills are sharp, you will receive glowing feedback from your counterparts and team leads, which is essential for a product designer’s success path.

3. Collaboration

As mentioned prior, you cannot avoid engaging with team members; product designing is not a solo role. You need to interact with your team and solidify your relationship with them.

Engage in constructive criticism and avoid conflict. Articulate your point of view and convey your decisions and ideas in a meaningful way. Listen to the perspective of your team members and consider them. You must treat your team with the same respect you give yourself.

Establishing a cordial relationship with your team members gives you better insight into what is required in leadership and decision-making. If you can maintain an amicable working atmosphere with your team, you can move on to manage a team and become an experienced leader yourself. Patience is a virtue in this sense. 

Never lash out or escalate tensions and, if required, act as a medium between your conflicting peers. Gaining their sense of trust which will enable them to view you as a reliable source.

4. Seek Feedback

As a product designer, you must receive feedback on your ideas and designs to know if you are on the correct path.

Product designers need to create a tougher exterior to brace themselves for feedback, positive or negative. If the input is negative, designers should receive it gracefully and halt their production immediately. If the feedback is positive, they can continue on their designing prospects. Feedback will govern where you stand in your career.

Opening yourself to the opinion of your peers, leaders, and clients allow you to make the modifications you require for your design. You can continue experimenting with your design until the general feedback goes from mixed to positive. Never feel demotivated if the initial response is negative. Always have an optimistic mind frame.

5. Problem Solving

Companies always favor employees who have solutions instead of confusion. Designers should showcase their ability to tackle any problem and provide productive solutions. Employees naturally gain the trust of their employers, and the company showers them with praise. Companies love a designer who is up to the mark and always ahead when resolving issues. This advances the product designer’s career to its pinnacle

The best way to enhance your problem-solving skills is to question everything. Anticipate the kind of questions you will be asked or the solutions to a project you will be expected to give. This will give your mind spare time to concoct a viable solution that can solve the problem. This ability will accelerate your product development and give you the opportunity to help your peers and company in the process.

5 Critical Hard Skills of Product Designers

1. UI Design

Many times, UI and UX designers are mistaken for being similar when nothing could be further from the truth. 

UI design is more focused on how a user interfaces with the product. It is concentrated on creating the transitions and screen layouts that better the steps in the user’s journey. UI, unlike UX, is not about the user’s experience. It is about the content of how the user will reach their design aims.

If you are required by your company to apply for UI designs, here are some of the abilities they will expect from you.

  • User Interface behavior.
  • Design user touchpoint.
  • Make a decision on typography and color.
  • Design visual hierarchy.
  • Create a visual representation of the interface.
  • Create a constant visual language.
  • Establish engaging interactions.

The ability to perform these UI tasks will give you ample time to conduct prototyping and research.

2. UX Research

UX designing is all about the users’ experience with the product. It is not limited to the feel or image of the product. It focuses on how a product is usable and how it makes it possible for users to reach their aims. There is no UX design if there is no UX research.

Companies that hire you will want to hear your input about the research and thought process you have compiled to convey your decision. UX design can only originate from extensive research. It focuses on every aspect of how a user receives the product design. Human psychology is also a part of this research. You need to empathize with clients and ensure that their experience with your design is comfortable.

3. Design Thinking

Thinking is a normal human process. Medical professionals think about the medication that can cure their patients while engineers think about constructing a device that will be functional. In the case of designers, they have to think about the kind of design that will catch the potential client’s interest and boost sales and revenue.

We have discussed the necessity of critical thinking. But critical thinking falls under the general tenet of design thinking. Apart from critical thinking, it requires collaboration, optimism, empathy, and experimentation.

Even though it sounds like a mere catchword in the corporation, design thinking is a talent and skill you can develop for yourself. When you give your company an interview, you will have to express all your design thinking and ideas and explain in detail how it can materialize. Leave nothing off the table. Once you prove it is applicable and get the job, you need to get to work to bring the design to fruition.

Design thinking has the ability to help you understand every problem and solution about your design creation. Remember, design thinking is not only for designers only. It is also useful in a multitude of professions like engineering or medicine. You can get an in-depth understanding of your design’s content and identify the correct resolutions for it.

Freelance UX Designer working on user experience project

4. Information Architecture

When you enter a company, you should do your preparation to face challenging questions. You should always expect companies to inquire about your IA (Information Architecture) knowledge.

Information Architecture is all about the organization, mechanism, and structure of information in an app or website. It is usually used to refer to the technique and process required to create a UX design. This is necessary, especially when you want to design a system that is navigable. 

It has to be a system or service that makes sense to the user and that user can become receptive to it. It gives them a platform to din the functions that users require during their experience. In order to have an effective way to convey information architecture, you need to have a vital communication skill at your disposal. This is especially important when it comes to UX. If you do not have the necessary Information Architecture skills in place, you will falter in your designing endeavors.

5. Design Software Proficiency

This is the most common hard skill that every company expects from a product designer. You need to be proficient when it comes to different varieties of software. When you approach the company that you hope to become an employee of, you need to have the software industry’s necessary skills. 

You have to know about software courses in Photoshop, Sketch, and Figma. You cannot operate a piece of software if you do not have ample knowledge of the subject. Also, you need to be hard evidence of your qualifications and experience before you enter a company.

A proven record of experience is a bonus in this aspect. If you are a beginner, just show your academic credentials and showcase your software understanding basics.

If you have cluttered knowledge of design software, you can dash all hopes of having a career at all in product designing, let alone getting hired by a product designing company.

This hard skill is the most vital for your employment prospects. Companies need to know that you’re proficient in a variety of design software.

All in all, you need to adopt all the basic requirements of both soft and hard skills to make it big in the industry. A product designing project needs to be one that drives sales and converts clients. The designer knows this full well, which is why it consists of multi-talented workers in its company.

They have exceeded expectations in their product designing projects because they have excelled in all the skills mentioned. Their product designs are polished and sophisticated. Their working environment is professional and familial. Parallel to that, their operation manner is cordial, and their team has all the essential skills required to construct the product that has a desirable feature to it.

Written By
Tabish Khalid works as the Digital Marketing Manager for Designster. He develops and implements digital strategies for Designster, along with aligning business goals with digital marketing activities. He actively contributes articles related to digital and content marketing.

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