Product Design in the Twenty-First Century: An Interview
Web and software product design go hand-in-hand with mastering modern concepts within creativity, and getting to know the human psyche. Here, we interview two members of WebCreek’s senior creative team: Pedro Pazmiño, Creative Director, and Miguel Zabala, Senior UX Designer, to get their insight on the hows and whys of modern digital production; both today and in years to come.
Why did you become a product design specialist?
Pedro: I became a product designer because, as far as I remember, I always liked to draw. Closer to finishing high school, I discovered digital tools for drawing. That led me to understand the nature of graphic design, and after studying and learning through different professional experiences, I came to understand that product design is also about solving problems: a concept I fell in love with.
Miguel: I discovered my talent for product design from a very young age, too. Whenever we had to deliver a presentation at school, mine always stood out because of how it looked. When I was deciding what to study at University, I visited the Design Institute of Caracas in Venezuela, and there I realized that graphic and web design were what I wanted to dedicate myself to for the rest of my life. I’m so grateful that I discovered that from an early age.
What do you think it takes to become a great digital designer?
Pedro: I think it’s vital to understand real people, rather than just machines or even visual executions. Product design requires empathy and an understanding of people’s behavior. How they see and experience their surroundings is important to understanding the human aspect behind digital products. To that end, it’s also vital to engage in constant learning and consumption of information. The more you fill your head with knowledge, the faster and more accurately you can make decisions in design.
Miguel: A good digital product designer begins with understanding how digital technology can make us fall in love. You can transform people’s lives through the power of brands, products, and companies. It’s so important for a designer to understand the whole process, from conception right up to the point of implementation. As a UX designer, my passion is for the user experience and interface design. That’s where you can enhance any product’s impact on the user to make them fall in love with it.
What creative opportunities and trends can you envisage in the next 5 years?
Pedro: Trendwise, I think people are starting to remember the analog feel. By that, I mean grabbing tools and experiences which can be digital, but are more involved in tactile, human functions. People are tired of massification in product design — they want personalized, unique, singular experiences. Brands are now starting to encourage people to move away from their computer screens altogether. They do that to produce more valuable experiences, which don’t neccesarily involve a device. I think this will be key to the success of future ideas.
Miguel: Technology is evolving at such a rate that it’s hard to envisage what will come. But if looking at 5 years ago as a reference, the trends for mobile apps, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things will definitely continue to create important opportunities for digital designers.
What’s the most important thing you need to know about a client before starting out a project?
Pedro: The most important thing is really getting to grips with what it is they want to solve. Digital product design is born of one principle — providing a solution to a problem of some sort. As long as that’s clear, their project already has a strong start. Ultimately, if you don’t have a problem to solve, your idea has little value. You’re simply adding to an existing market, which is harder to sell, and harder to convince people to buy.
Miguel: Before starting a project, it’s essential to know and understand the customer, and, as Pedro mentions, how they want to use their digital product to solve something. Getting the initial requirements right is the key to success for the project. The clearer the requirement, the fewer risks and more opportunities. If the client isn’t clear on what they want, we can use our experience to propose something according to their specific market.