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What is product design?

In the vast world of tech, product design isn't just about choosing nice colors or fancy graphics. It's about understanding what the user really needs.

20 October, 2023
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Have you ever opened an app or a website and thought, "Wow, this looks and feels great!"? That warm, fuzzy feeling you get is a big thanks to product design. 

In the vast world of tech, product design isn't just about choosing nice colors or fancy graphics. It's about understanding what the user really needs. 

It's about creating solutions that are both practical for everyday use and delightful to interact with. It's about connecting business goals with user satisfaction. 

Having accumulated extensive experience in providing product design services, we’ve created this article to pull back the curtain and reveal the process, tools, and balance required in product design. 

Want your product to attract, engage, and keep users?

Merge is here to help.

Learn more

Product design questions

Before we explore the intricacies of designing new digital products, you might have a few burning questions that probe deeper than aesthetics. What problem does product design solve, who benefits from it, and what are the business goals it can help achieve?

What is the problem?

The problem here is a specific challenge or difficulty faced by users that hampers their experience, efficiency, or satisfaction. 

It could range from a tiresome process in existing software to a lack of tools for a particular task. 

To accurately define it, research, user interviews, and observation can be employed. By framing the problem correctly, designers and developers have a clear target to aim their efforts at.

Who are we solving the problem for?

We are solving the problem primarily for our target audience or user base. 

This could be a specific demographic, professionals within a certain industry, or a broader spectrum of general users. 

By creating user personas or conducting user research, designers can visualize and empathize with the end-users, ensuring that the product resonates and provides genuine value to them.


What business goals do we need to achieve?

Business goals in the context of product design might include expanding market share, entering a new market segment, increasing user engagement, improving retention rates, or driving revenue through new features. 

These goals guide decision-making throughout the product design process, ensuring that while the product delights users, it also has a positive impact on the business's bottom line.

The importance of interface design in product development

You've heard of love at first sight, but what about love at first 'site'? Interface design can make or break a product's appeal. Let's see how it amplifies the user and customer experience while building a solid brand identity.

The importance of interface design in product development
The importance of interface design in product development

Enhancing user experience

User experience is all about how a user interacts with, feels about, and perceives a product. Interface design plays a vital role in this as it involves designing the points of interaction between the user and the product.

An intuitive interface design, with clear navigation, concise content, and responsive elements, can make a user's journey smooth and enjoyable. 

When users find it easy to accomplish tasks, whether it's buying a product online, finding information, or using a software tool, they're more likely to have a positive perception of the product. 

Good interface design also caters to diverse users, considering factors like accessibility for those with disabilities, ensuring that the product is inclusive.

Building brand identity 

Beyond just functionality, interface design also communicates the essence of a brand. The visual elements, typography, colors, and even the tone of the content can reflect the brand's personality and values.

A product designer can weave the brand's identity into the interface by ensuring consistency in design elements, aligning them with the brand's established guidelines. This consistency strengthens brand recall and trust. 

When users interact with a product that feels "on-brand," they're more likely to associate the positive experience they have with the broader brand, enhancing loyalty and advocacy.

Considering customer experience in the design process

Interface design is an integral part of this broader journey. It's not just about creating a usable product but one that delights at every touchpoint. 

This might mean easy-to-find customer support links, a seamless checkout process in an e-commerce platform, or personalized user dashboards that make customers feel valued. 

When you consider the holistic customer journey, you can ensure the interface supports not just isolated tasks but contributes to a delightful end-to-end experience.

Want your product to attract, engage, and keep users?

Merge is here to help.

Learn more

The role of design tools in the process

Think of a chef without their knives or a painter without their brushes. Designers, too, have their trusty tools. These aren't just for show; they help visualize, prototype, communicate, manage, and systematize. 

Visualizing interface design

Visualizing interface design involves mapping out the visual elements of a product, like buttons, menus, and layouts. 

Tools like Adobe XD, Sketch, and Figma enable designers to create wireframes and mockups, offering a visual representation of the product's architecture and flow. 

This helps stakeholders get a clear picture of the end product, and designers can make adjustments based on feedback, ensuring that the final interface aligns with both user needs and business goals.

High fidelity prototyping

High fidelity prototyping provides a near-final representation of the design, complete with interactive elements and detailed aesthetics. 

Platforms like InVision and Marvel allow designers to transform their static mockups into interactive prototypes. These prototypes mimic the actual product's functionality, offering stakeholders a hands-on experience. 

This phase is crucial for user testing, as real users can navigate the prototype, enabling designers to gather feedback and identify areas of improvement.

Streamlining design team communication

Modern design tools come with built-in collaboration features. Platforms like Figma, for instance, allow multiple designers to work on a design simultaneously. 

Additionally, tools integrate commenting systems, enabling team members to leave feedback directly on specific design elements. 

This real-time communication minimizes misunderstandings and speeds up iteration cycles.

Managing product designer roles

In larger teams, delineating responsibilities and tracking progress is essential to manage workflows effectively.

Design management tools like or Trello can help teams allocate tasks, set deadlines, and monitor progress. 

These tools enable lead designers to assign roles based on expertise and project requirements, ensuring that every team member has a clear understanding of their responsibilities.

Systematizing the product design process

A systematic process ensures consistency, efficiency, and quality across projects.

Tools like Zeplin or Avocode allow designers to hand off designs to developers with all the necessary specifications and assets. 

Design systems tools, like Storybook, also provide a repository of design components, ensuring that there's consistency across the product. 

Having a structured system in place reduces redundancy, ensures brand consistency, and expedites the production phase.

Balancing creativity and practicality in your design 

While creativity brings innovation and uniqueness to the table, practicality ensures that the design serves its intended purpose effectively. 

Striking the right balance can be challenging but is crucial.

Discover how understanding your audience, incorporating design thinking, and embracing minimalism can lead to a better product design.

Understanding the target audience

At the heart of any successful design lies a profound understanding of its end-users. 

It's essential to know who will be using the product and what their preferences, needs, and behaviors are.

User research, surveys, and feedback sessions can shed light on user demographics, psychographics, and pain points. 

By having a clear picture of the target audience, designers can tailor their creative decisions to resonate with the users. It ensures that any creative flair introduced has a purpose and adds value to the user experience rather than merely being a decorative element. 


Incorporating design thinking 

Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that places the user at the center. It involves empathy, ideation, and iteration to come up with solutions that are both innovative and functional.

The design thinking process often begins with empathy – understanding user needs and challenges. This is followed by ideation, where creative brainstorming happens. 

Finally, prototypes are developed and tested, leading to iterations. This cycle ensures that while creativity is encouraged, it's always grounded in solving real user problems. 

The balance is struck by ensuring that every creative solution has a practical application in enhancing user experience.

Embracing minimalism in the design

Minimalism in design is about stripping away the unnecessary, focusing on clarity, and making each element purposeful.

A minimalist approach doesn't necessarily mean a lack of creativity. On the contrary, it challenges designers to express ideas concisely and powerfully. 

By embracing minimalism, designers ensure that every creative choice, from colors to typography, serves a functional purpose. It prevents designs from becoming overly cluttered or confusing for users. 

The "less is more" philosophy ensures that while the design remains aesthetically pleasing, it prioritizes user navigation and comprehension.

Want your product to attract, engage, and keep users?

Merge is here to help.

Learn more


In conclusion, while the allure of creating visually stunning designs can be tempting, it's vital to ground these creative aspirations in practicality. On one side, there's creativity, and on the other, there's real-world use. 

We've explored how to keep it steady, and our team is here to help you find that perfect balance with our product design services.

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CEO and Founder of Merge

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

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