Top Skills You Need For Product Design

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By Lexie Brada

Before we get into any of the skills you need for these jobs, we need to talk about a pair of terms that you’ll hear very often in this article and in the hiring world, and if you don’t already know, make it a goal to add them to your vocabulary:

Hard Skills and Soft Skills.

A ‘hard skill’ vs a ‘soft skill’ is not talking about the theoretical difficultness of mastering these skills. Some hard skills can be very easy to learn and some soft skills can be incredibly difficult to master.

Rather, when one talks about ‘hard skills’ and ‘soft skills’, they’re comparing the way you learn these skills, or how you get the knowledge.

Still confused? No worries, let’s break it down.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are the qualifications on your resume that get your foot in the door. You can’t be born with a hard skill. Instead, hard skills are learned, either through work, education, or other training. Hard skills are also measurable. In fact, some interview processes can include testing of these skills, such as Excel or coding, so Hiring Managers can get a quantifiable evaluation of your skills.

The hard skills you’ll need are going to be specific toward your career field, since these skills encompass what you’ll be using in your day-to-day.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are the skills that are much harder to define and harder to teach, but they are just as important in your career. If hard skills are what you’ll do, soft skills define how and how well you’ll do it. For example, say you’re highly skilled in Tableau, a data visualization tool used to present data and finding through visual representation. In order to best present insights to stakeholders and other teams, you will also need strong communication and storytelling skills.

The average person spends around 90,000 hours at their job, so you’ll be around your coworkers more than family. Having great soft skills not only makes you better at your job, but it also makes you an enjoyable person to work with, which means people will want to work with you and see you succeed. In fact, a LinkedIn survey shows that 57% of employers value soft skills over hard ones.

Another reason soft skills are valued is that they transfer easily from job to job. Companies may use a different development stack, a new mailing service, or even a different project management system, but being able to communicate and adapt under pressure will start adding value on day one.

Now that we know what a ‘hard skill’ and a ‘soft skill’ is, let’s take a look at what the job itself entails, which of these skills you’ll need, and some places to gain these skills.

Product Designer

A Day in the Life

Product Design is the process of identifying a market opportunity, clearly defining the problem, developing a proper solution for that problem and validating the solution with real users. Product Designers often ask themselves: what problem are we solving, who has this problem, and what do we want to achieve? Answering these questions helps Product Designers understand the user experience of a product as a whole and allows them to figure out the problems and solutions of consumers.

Work Responsibilities

  • Drive multiple large-scale design projects
  • Plan and manage design projects that align to the overall product strategy
  • Continuously identify effective and efficient design practices that optimize the UX design team's output
  • Proactively think of ways to grow and retain users through great UX
  • Partner with Product Management and conduct user research to truly understand customer's goals and needs
  • Ground decisions on research-based insights instead of gut feeling

Hard Skills

  • Experience in flows, sitemaps, wireframes, prototypes, and other UX deliverables
  • Knowledge of ideation, UX assessment, information architecture, workflow, and functional design
  • Visual Design & Interactive Design
  • User Research & Usability Studies
  • Digital Style Guide Creation (feature flows, interactive models, guest pathing)
  • HTML, CSS, Javascript
  • Prototyping tools (Sketch, InVision, Hype, Axure, Keynote, Figma, Flint)
  • UX Research

Soft Skills

  • Copywriting
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Reception to Feedback
  • Collaboration/Teamwork
  • Ability to Communicate to Non-Designers

Where to get these hard skills?

Interested in exploring this job, the skills it takes to break into this career, or still looking for that perfect fit in the workforce? Download the Pathmatch app to discover companies that match your interests, strengths, and goals! Pathmatch can help find the perfect career fit for you! 

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