How to be a Product Designer in the Philippines

October 1, 2021
 Min Read

UX Almusal Episode 1 Recap

In the first episode, Alexis and I talked about how working at product companies and design agencies are like, why you should work at a product company, and how to get into a product company as a UX designer.

Here are 4 lessons from Episode 1:

🏗️ Lesson 1: Working at a product company means building a product from end to end

Working at a product company means you’re involved in building a product from scratch, up until you ship it and track success metrics. Along the way, you’ll learn how to create a product that’s valuable to others. You’ll dive deeply into the problem the company is trying to solve for its customers, and you’ll design solutions that solve those problems.

But you’re not just someone who designs screens — you also contribute to the product strategy and how this will support the company’s business model. You help inform the product roadmap and choose which design methods to apply in your work. You also get to be more fluid with design processes. For example, choosing whether to design in low fidelity to facilitate conversations among stakeholders or to test designs with users before pushing these to production will be up to you. 

In product companies, you forge your own path. And what’s great about working at a product company is that it exercises your design muscles and gives you depth in terms of experience.

If you’re early into your design career, it’s advisable to work for a design mature company. That way, you can worry less about selling the value of design from the ground up. It’s not that influencing skills aren’t important in a product company. In fact, you still have to “sell” by communicating your process and getting buy-in from business units. But you don’t need to do a lot of heavy-lifting. Instead, you can focus your efforts on talking to customers and problem solving. 

🏬 Lesson 2: Working at a design agency teaches you how to sell, work fast, and juggle multiple projects at the same time

Working at a design agency teaches you how to sell and talk to different types of people. Because not all clients have a profound understanding of design, it’s your job to have clients buy into the value of what you do. In a design agency, you’ll be juggling multiple projects from various industries at the same time. This is good if you’re looking for breadth in terms of experience. Working at a design agency is also fast-paced — you need to work quickly to meet deadline after deadline. 

Working at a design agency, however, means you won’t be seeing your design all the way through. Instead, you hand off your designs and hope the client uses them as you intended them to be. Chances are, you also won’t be tracking any success metrics, so you won’t know if your design actually works. 

👫 Lesson 3: It’s not always about the salary or benefits — it’s also about the people.

Apart from thinking about the salary and benefits you’ll get, it’s also important to think about the people you’ll be surrounding yourself with, should you choose to work at one company over the other. If you care about growing in your design career, you need to make sure you’re working with the smartest people in the field. You’d know if the company you're eyeing for has this kind of environment when you find out:

How many designers the company has

Is there only one person in the design team? Or are there several designers in a team? 

What designers within the company have done so far

Are the designers involved in the inception of a new product or feature? How are their design processes like? Do they just churn out designs like a factory? Or do they conduct user research and use this to inform their design decisions? What’s a designer’s day-to-day workflow like? You’ll know the answers to these questions when you talk to designers within the company.

How much funding the company has

Usually, funding is an indication that the company is solving a real problem for customers. It means that the company is onto something, something that delivers value to its customers. 

💼 Lesson 4: There are several ways to start a Product or UX Design career in the Philippines.  

Regardless of whether you’re a student or a working professional, there are several ways to kickstart your Product or UX Design career in the Philippines: 

  • If you’re still a student, take as many design internships as possible.
  • Do design case studies and document your process.
  • Create content. Write your learnings on design on Medium.
  • Be active in the design community by joining online groups like UXPH.
  • Join design conferences like UX+ and Figma meetups.
  • Network! Get to know other designers around you, even those from other countries or from your dream companies.
  • Listen to design podcasts like Roots
  • Model your career after those of designers you admire

About UX Almusal

Listen in on discussions about UX, product design, and life from two hungry designers cooking their way to make sense of a messy design world.

Conversations over breakfast may include — product design breakdowns, building design organizations, self-improvement as a designer, and stuff you probably should listen in on if you want to level up as a designer.

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