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February 24, 2023

How to become a product designer

I think one of the most important things to become a product designer is actually knowing about products and people. It might sound silly, but you can't be a film director if you don't watch movies. Here are some tips for people who want to create products for other people.

First of all, let me be honest, there's no such thing as a perfect path or golden rule to become a product designer, there are a lot of things that come into play. Context, location, dedication, luck, and so on. In addition, everyone has their own individual path, and there are also many paths to take within the industry, that's why it's so beautiful.

That said, there are a few thing that you can leverage to put the odds in your favor, these are just a list of tips that you may find useful, or maybe not, and that's totally fine.

I've divided these into 3 parts: Observation, Practice, and Action. They are in order, but ideally you should iterate through these until you get what you want. Without further ado, here they are:


1. Be interested in products and people: Ask yourself first, what type of products I would love to design for people? For what people? For what culture? With what goal?

2. Start using those products: Design is based on empathy. You are going to design for humans. For users. But before designing for users, you will need to be an user.

3. Observe patterns: When using those products, start observing design patterns, start thinking what works for you, what doesn't work for you, what could be done better.

4. Observe people: Start looking at how people use the products you are interested in. Ask questions. You will need to develop social skills to be a product designer.


5. Be part of a community: Joining design communities is a great way to create connections and learning about others. One that I like is Design Buddies.

6. Practice design, create your toolbox: Start designing. Start small. Try to re-create a button, a card, a dropdown, a navigation. Imagine ways to improve them.

7. Share your designs and ask for feedback: Getting used to feedback is key. Ego is the enemy when designing. Be prepared to fail.

8. Use feedback to improve: Once you have created your set of design tools, try creating a whole conceptual product. This can include research with real people, real testing, create something that you would love to use. You can join a design course or bootcamp if you need some guidance to create a whole conceptual project. You can also look for mentors on ADPList.


9. Create a portfolio:
You will need at least 2-3 case studies before looking for a job, if they are concepts, try to validate those with real data. To create your portfolio you can use a tool like Notion.

10. Enter the building:
You won't get your ideal job at the beginning, you just have to enter the "building of design", so try to find something that is the closest to what you want. Also, every job is the most important job of your life.

This is a map, but what ultimately will get you there is how you use the map, how you walk the path, and your perseverance to keep walking besides the stones, the storms and odds. Keep walking, eventually, you'll get there.