I want to start by stating that there is no specific formula or recipe for those of you wishing to switch from graphic design to product design. But reading about other people’s transitions was quite helpful to me while I went through it myself. I, therefore, made the decision to share mine in this essay.
If given the right focus, direction, and resources, I firmly believe that any graphic artist who wants to move into product design can succeed. This article’s hope and objective is to assist you in moving forward.
In order to accomplish this, I’m going to outline for you what I think are the four essential steps a graphic designer must take in order to successfully transition into product design.
Additionally, I will give you access to a wealth of articles, books, and other learning materials. Check out our helpful table further down if you want to skip to this section.
Okay, let’s quickly bring you up to speed.
How to move from graphic design to product design
Although it could seem easy, you must first learn about things you don’t already know. Graphic designers typically devote a lot of effort to visual design but less time to research and data-driven judgments.
Start by researching digital design if your current focus is primarily on printed design. Although creating an app or website isn’t required to get started, you should at the very least become acquainted with digital colors, units, and interactions.
Alternatively, you can be a graphic designer with extensive digital and research skills. In that case, you should understand more about UI (user interface), as well as its functions and distinctions from UX (user experience).
Additionally, you must comprehend the function of product design and how to operate inside the framework of software development. There are numerous ways to learn this, and I’ll group them into 6 categories:
While reading one article won’t make you an expert, if you make reading articles part of your weekly routine, you can gain a lot of specialized insights by browsing blogs and reading the pieces that catch your attention.
To get started, check out these websites:
- Nielsen Norman Group
- Invision’s Design Improvem
Books are an excellent approach to learning because they may provide a lot of the minor things that go into being a product designer in addition to specialized concepts.
I would advise beginning with The Design Of Everyday Things, which will offer you a solid knowledge of human-centered design and is an absolute necessity for shifting to product design.
Additionally, I’d recommend reading Don’t Make Me Think for a solid knowledge of usability as well as Refactoring UI for some excellent instances of excellent UI Design.
You can receive the kinds of exercises through platforms that will help you get better with practice. You should start with Uxcel, however, you can also visit the following websites:
- Improve Design
- Face UX Challenge
If you have the time, courses are really helpful. I used a remote local option with a project as the primary objective because I live in Argentina. However, there are many courses available; you just need to select the one that best meets your requirements.
As it will likely be your finest resource for your interviews, I’d give priority to selecting a course with a project. I advise the following courses:
- Foundation for Interaction Design
Before considering additional options, you can also check out some free resources:
- Google’s Audacity; Career Foundry’s Become a UX designer; Invision’s Design Talk
You probably already know this, but looking at digital products will actually aid in incorporating the graphics and aid in design choices.
If you frequently use Instagram, I’d advise adding a number of UI Instagram profiles to your feed.
Making some Pinterest Boards and visiting websites like Mobbin, Simform, and Land Book can also be helpful.
Having a mentor is an excellent alternative. In my case, I had a friend who could listen to all of my inquiries and uncertainties and who helped me out in the beginning. She walked me through the fundamentals and showed me how to hone my abilities. A mentor is a priceless tool in your educational journey.
You can find a product designer if you don’t know one by using websites like ADPList. You can check out two folks who greatly aided me in this move on this platform: Belen Iglesias (Product Design Manager) and Maximo Gomez (Design Leader). Both of these would make great starting points for you on your journey.
For those of you who don’t enjoy reading paragraphs, I’ll leave this table here (like myself).
I can share with you a strategy that was quite successful for me. When I first started out, I looked for a course that offered both a broad overview and a complete project as an outcome objective.
These classes will walk you through the process of adding additional material if your images are strong.
Only if you invest the necessary time will you be able to produce a high-quality output after a frantic drive. You’ll gain a lot of knowledge, and the end result will help you in your interview.
Second, you must act, i.e., produce. You have a fantastic chance to present your entire approach when working on a complete project. Interviewers will undoubtedly find this to be interesting. To boost your abilities, you can also merely perform brief activities.
Simple exercises like rebuilding two screens of a well-known software can be used. Here, I would advise against concentrating solely on the user interface.
If you perform a brief activity, try to focus on enhancing a brief aspect. Do some research, talk to some friends to find out what they don’t like, and then attack it in a modest project.
Dribble flair will draw attention, and having great visual talents is an important part of your skill set. However, it would help you more if you can show in your portfolio that you understand the product and its usage in addition to having good aesthetics.
You’ll also need to pick up some new skills. You should make Figma your primary design tool, in my opinion. The use of it is free.
If you enjoy using illustrator, the switch won’t be difficult for you, and you’ll adore auto layout. Believe me.
If you choose to use the entire project approach, be sure you at least demonstrate these elements:
- Important Context
- The project’s necessity was stated in the problem statement.
- Audience and users: Who were the users? (Personas)
- What did you do?
- Roles and Responsibilities:
- Scope and restrictions: limiting elements (if applicable)
- Process and what you did: Research and design decisions were made step-by-step.
Results & Outcomes:
What transpired? Were the objectives met?
- Lessons discovered (this will probably be the best your highlights in a non-real project context)
I would put the most effort into the presentation of your project. Examine examples from product design portfolios to understand how they are organized and what kind of information and insights they present.
Then, strive to have at least one finished project before sharing your material. However, attempt to find elements in your projects that demonstrate your ability as a product designer. You can also leverage prior graphic design work (impact, data-driven decisions, digital visuals, and collaboration).
Connecting is a crucial stage. You have your projects and your knowledge. You now require the chance. The most effective tool for this, in my opinion, is LinkedIn.
At the moment, there is a big demand for product designers, UX designers, and UI designers. Therefore, if you use the platform effectively, you will have some opportunities.
Make sure your profile is complete and take a moment to learn how LinkedIn operates. I’d suggest including a few links to your portfolio and related projects here. These are really crucial to your quest. Recruiters won’t likely look into them, but design managers will.
Make connections with other product designers, IT industry recruiters, and developers. then begin. This entails occasionally leaving comments on some posts.
Sharing a project or your most recent qualification, for example. If you make it a habit of participating here, you will start to see job openings in your feed.
Junior positions are less prevalent, but you can leverage your graphic design experience (if you have it) to position yourself for semi-senior positions in this situation. Although you won’t have the disciplinary knowledge required for a semi-senior role, you will have the necessary skill set.
This means that you have a lot to give as a product designer if, throughout your graphic design career, you have dealt with presentations, collaboration, intense pressure, defending your judgments, making concessions, and working in an effect-driven approach.
You are a tremendous asset because of all of this plus your visual expertise, and you should definitely take use of it.
Share your graphic design experience because your prior experience will set you apart from other product designers.
In a conclusion, I hope you find this material to be helpful and that you make use of the resources listed here to assist you to get started on your path from graphic design to product design.
It’s a truly lovely experience, and I know you’ll love every minute of it. And when you do, you will obtain your first job, make sure to advance by reading our advice on how to be the best junior product designer you can be.