My reflection on product design as an aspiring designer

Phuong Lu
4 min readSep 30, 2020

Experience is the essence of a product. While Customer Experience (CX) encompasses all the interactions a customer has with your brand, User Experience (UX) focuses on the interaction between people and your product and the resulting experience.

What truly captivates me about product design is the thought process behind it, from understanding the user’s decision-making to problem-solving. It requires empathy towards the user and the creation of a human-centered product that is useful, usable, and desirable. After working in the aviation industry for three years, where I interacted with numerous passengers, I’ve learned that people will remember how you make them feel. The same principle applies to a product.

What makes a product good vs. great?

“The difference between a good and great product is the last 10%. Everyone has the same 90%…the same core features and similar pricing and a similar story. But that last 10% is the real differentiator. It is the part that separates you from your competitors. It’s the blood, sweat, and tears of detail. And it might take 50% of your time. But time is not what you’re measuring…you’re measuring the difference between good and great.” Joshua Porter

Product design entails not only solving existing problems but also addressing issues that users haven’t identified yet. Designers must possess a profound understanding of users, their needs, abilities, and limitations, in order to provide them with more than just a solution. When two products with similar functions are compared, what makes one product superior to its competitor is how the user feels about it. If it is user-friendly, fulfills their needs, and sparks joy, then it undoubtedly qualifies as a great product.

“Don't make me think”

Even though cameras and phones might not seem like they compete with each other, they are becoming more like rivals as phones get smarter and have better cameras with AI technology. I remember a time when I carried both a DSLR camera and my phone while traveling. On the first day, the camera took up most of the space in my bag. However, when I looked at the pictures later, I noticed that the camera shots had depth, but the colors were not as vibrant as the ones taken with my phone from the same angle. After that, I only used my phone for pictures. It’s clear that many non-professionals, like me, would prefer a lightweight phone instead of spending time learning to use a bulky camera.

“What makes people passionate, pure and simple, is great experiences. If they have great experience with your service, they’re going to be passionate about your brand, they’re going to be committed to it.” Jesse James Garrett

The product I don't want to live without

I would like to nominate Alarmy for its unwavering assistance over the past three years. As a heavy sleeper, waking up has always been a challenge for me. When I was a child, my grandmother used to wake me up. However, once I moved to another city for university, I had to rely on myself. Consequently, waking up early in the morning became a nightmare, resulting in me missing many morning classes due to oversleeping. Three years ago, I stumbled upon Alarmy, and it became my lifesaver.

The app provides a variety of wake-up options depending on how determined you are to wake up. It offers super loud ringtones that mimic emergency alarms, backup sounds in case you are unresponsive, time pressure that audibly announces the time every minute until you turn it off, and most notably, the Mission function. The Mission function allows you to choose how to turn off the alarm, such as typing specific phrases, counting steps, shaking your phone a certain number of times, solving math problems, or scanning a QR code. So, you might think you can simply turn off your phone? Not quite. If you are committed to waking up, you can activate the “Prevent phone turn-off” and “Prevent app uninstall” features. It continues to work seamlessly for me even now.

In conclusion

There’s still lots of room for improvement in product design. As an aspiring UX designer, I’m excited about finding solutions to problems in current products and creating new ones that not only assist people but also make their experience enjoyable.