Product design is not easy to explain, as are digital product disciplines in general.

To build digital product is relatively new, hence the lack of processes or conventions. And people not being educated about it. In order to understand better how our roles fit together, I like to think about a product team as building a house.

In order to build a house, you need:

  • People to live in that house
  • Architects to plan the house according to people needs
  • Plumbing and electricity engineers to make the house work
  • Masons to build the house based on architects and engineers plans
  • A site manager to coordinate all these people

When you build a product, you need:

  • People to use that product
  • Product designers to research, plan and conceptualise interactions
  • Back-end engineers to make interactions work
  • Front-end engineers to build the product based on design and back-end output
  • A project manager to make sure all goes well

I understand you'd think project/site managers are optional as other people like architects can take the lead on that but the job still needs to be done.


Analogies are endless: cars, nature, animals, science, food,... Adapt to your audience when you explain something they're not familiar with. Building a restaurant app? Explain who does what in your team as if you were a kitchen staff. Designing a car configurator? Describe your process by making analogies to the skills needed to build an automobile.


Cover picture by 贝莉儿 DANIST