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Architects of the digital world

A digital product designer envisions and brings together different aspects of a digital product.   | Photo Credit: Freepik

Today, the digital ecosystem is ubiquitous and has a deep influence on our lives, including the way we see the world. Every digital tool that we use — whether a chatbox, website, or interactive tool —is carefully designed to ensure increased engagement.

This is where the digital product designers come in. Their role is to create an engaging experience with clarity, aesthetics and efficiency. With increasing digitisation, this field is likely to see an ever-increasing demand as every organisation and brand strives to improve its user experience.

Three-click rule

What do we want from our digital presence? The commonest answer would be to increase engagement. This is possible only when users find the experience easy, clear, and catering to their needs. This brings us to the three-click rule, which means that if users cannot find what they are looking for in three clicks, they will switch to a competitor site. While this rule has been contested and is not always applicable, the basic premise is to keep navigation to a minimum.

It is not always easy to keep the interface looking balanced, clean and aesthetically soothing. The aim is to provide options without overwhelming the user and for information to be easily and quickly accessible. There is no one rule that fits every instance, since every digital presence is unique. This is the fine balance that a digital product designer has to bring.

Transdisciplinary nature

Digital product designers are often confused with UX or UI designers but their role is more overarching and transdisciplinary in nature. Unlike UX or UI designers who are concerned with just a small aspect of the product, a digital product designer supervises the product from ideation to delivery. Other than design, the role combines Sociology, Psychology, marketing, copywriting, analytics, coding, and even sound design. An understanding of human psychology is imperative, as designers must have a grasp of user habits and patterns and be able to predict human behaviour in order to create a seamless experience. At the same time, there are critical technical aspects such as coding, design, marketing, and analytics. Unlike other designs, a digital product designer also needs to inculcate a business approach to ensure that the product is saleable.

Future options

With low-cost templates and AI now being used to make digital products such as websites, apps, ebooks, and podcasts, human creativity will become premium. Unlike other functions, creativity cannot be replicated by machines. So, while there are functions like analytics and SEO that machines can undertake to some extent, it is a digital product designer who can envision and bring together different aspects of designing a digital product.

A good product designer is consequently in high demand across industries. Some studies indicate that job opportunities for those with design skills have increased by an impressive 13% from 2010 to 2020.

Another emerging industry where they are in high demand is game design and art. With more than 365 million active gamers, India clocked the highest number of mobile game downloads worldwide in the first nine months of 2020. Digital product designer can visualise and bring together the different elements of the game: from art and environment to design.

In a world where digital is fast becoming our primary tool for social, professional, commercial, and political interactions, design is the framework on which this ecosystem rests. Digital product designers are the architects of this vibrant ecosystem.

The writer is Country Head, Ecole Intuit Lab


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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 12:27:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/who-are-digital-product-designers-what-do-they-do/article36398739.ece

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