Digital Product Design as Design History

4 min readFeb 15, 2021


At its heart, product design is the design of something to ensure it meets human needs.[1] While most universities and institutions offer product design courses that solely focus on physical products, digital product design is in fact an intangible software-enabled experience or service. Depending on the company’s size, the digital product can be either the entire business offering or just one touchpoint of a cooperate service.

Though the majority confuse digital design with graphic design, it is actually far more in common with industrial design than it does with graphic design. To account for this, websites, applications, and other digital products are not merely sets of static screens. Apps must have the ability to respond to user input, the responsive capability to various devices, and the adaptation to market demands and user feedbacks, which all need a close and multi-disciplinary collaboration.[2]

The role of a digital product designer starts from the business side and ends with the business side. Art gives birth to design, but the design is not limited to art. A good design needs to find a specific market demand and solve specific user problems. The image[fig. 1] below shows design categories during the development of a digital product and, notably, the proportion of digital product designer is responsible within each category. By being responsible for controlling design aspects — -mainly UI/UX — — after abundant market research, a digital product designer needs to follow up with user feedback and to keep on with the product’s regular iterations. All in all, even though this is a transdisciplinary role, it doesn’t mean that a product designer should be able to do everything alone.[3] Instead, they need to have a naturally entrepreneurial and cooperative mindset; seeing the product from initially identifying the opportunity, through the design process, working with developers/engineers until the final finished product is delivered meeting customer needs.[4]

fig. 1 [5]

The reason for choosing this subject is first because of personal academic interest fostered during university. Since transferring from fashion design to communication design, the idea of “design is different from art as ultimately it has to face the market” has been carved into my mind. Being profitable to enterprises and being problem-solving to users are essential targets of every digital product. As a result, shown by the image below[fig. 2], more designers today across multiple disciplines are flocking to digital product design with a diverse range of viewpoints and experience.[6] Going into digital seems to become a global trend of the entire design industry.

fig. 2 [7]

Apart from the business aspects mentioned, the progress of design development is usually tightened up with technological and social influences. There isn’t much information on Wikipedia about digital product design until 2020’s 5G and AI technologies have enabled more possibilities for digital products. Moreover, the FMCG(Fast Moving Consumer Goods) Industry, appeared under 21st Century’s Consumerism societies, has stimulated sales and revenue, which can be better satisfied and further stimulated by digital products like software and website. Following the launch and promotion of 5G and AI technologies, more industries, and big companies have foreseen digital product’s capacity of bringing people to people, as well as their necessity and benefit to everyday life. Digital product design, in other words, is an inevitable tendency and product of this fast-changing age.

Today’s scholars and market have noticed this digital trend with more academic thoughts and definitions start to be established, whereas reputable references are scattered all around. As for the next steps, the academic world needs to pay more attention to this emerging industry by integrating reputable resources, published by renowned individuals and organizations, and giving authoritative definition about this topic; the technological world should experiment with more high-techs to support digital product’s development, and the business world should value digital product designers by providing more job opportunities and platforms for designers to express and improve on themselves.

With all things said, today’s Wikipedia should take consideration to value digital product design as a significant and inevitable part of design history because, as of tomorrow, the digital world is becoming an inevitable trend as more individual practitioners and cooperate institutions are very likely to get involved in and be benefited from this field.

[1] Thwaites, Toby. “What Is a Product Designer?” Futureheads, August 28, 2019. Accessed December 5, 2020.

[2] Lynagh, Kevin L. ”Digital Product Design Is Not Graphic Design.” Subform. Accessed December 5, 2020.

[3] Cantuni, Rubens. “What’s a Digital Product Designer?” Medium. UX Collective, November 3, 2020. Accessed December 6, 2020.

[4] Thwaites, Toby.

[5] Cantuni, Rubens.

[6] Devay, Paul. “What Is Digital Product Designer?” Medium. Medium, September 18, 2019.

[7] Devay, Paul.




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