As a product designer, or someone who is interested in becoming one you’re probably aware that coming up with the product of the century is not always possible.
Inspiration doesn’t fall from the sky.
But fortunately, innovative products were being designed since the dawn of time, and especially in the last few decades, we’ve witnessed game-changing designs created by the best. In this article, I’ve gathered 8 of the most innovative product designers of our time that I’m closely following myself.
Who is a Product Designer?
A product designer is a person that’s responsible for the schematics of any product. Most of the time, a product designer might not be the one to come up with the idea, but they’re the ones that help these ideas become reality. They’re usually responsible for the User Experience (What is UX? UX is the abbreviation of User Experience and refers to an individual’s thoughts and feelings when using a specific product or a service. It aims to heal…) of a product, but shouldn’t be confused with UX designers since a product designer is more focused on how the UX and its effects will translate to business and product success in the long term.
Why should you follow a product designer in 2021?
If you’re interested in creating beautiful products that benefit both the business and the customer in a perfect harmony, you need experience and inspiration to be your allies. Both concepts aren’t present to any product designer on day 1, so they need to be able to learn from the experience and insights of those who are more seasoned.
By following the thought leaders on product design, you’ll have the chance to:
- explore different perspectives on common design problems,
- get yourself exposed to their ideas and inspirations,
- constantly learn from their mistakes and successes.
“If you hang out with nine successful people you’re bound to be the tenth”– Adil Laresh
8 Most Famous Product Designers to Follow
So let’s start with the pioneers of product design in the 21st century, then come to the best of the best in 2021. Without further ado, let’s go:
1- Jony Ive – Former Apple Chief Design Officer
We all know that Apple has been an ambassador of innovation since 1976, and Jony Ive has been behind these innovations since 1992.
He led the designs of iconic Apple products such as the first iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Him, and his team of around 15 people, who has worked together for long years, had a private office that was solely devoted to the design of the pioneering Apple products.
Ive quit Apple in 2019, yet his passion for product and industrial design has never diminished. He is currently a Chancellor of the Royal College of Art located in London and is active in his own design firm, LoveFrom.
2- J Allard – Former Chief Experience Officer at Microsoft
The other half of Apple in terms of product innovation is arguably Microsoft. And J Allard, former Chief Experience Officer of Microsoft was crucial in many of these innovations along his many years in the company as an executive.
Although he started his journey at Microsoft as a program manager aiding in the development of network tech, he had the chance to connect his design ideas to the world after he co-founded the project Xbox in 1999 and became CTO and CXO of the Entertainment and the Devices section.
He shipped over 30 products in his almost 20 years in Microsoft, which includes some of our all-time favorite Microsoft projects such as Xbox and a number of no-longer functioning projects such as Kin and Zune.
He is now the CEO of his own company Project 529, which is famous for the innovative bicycle registration service that has helped drop bike theft significantly.
3- Julie Zhuo – Former VP of Product Design at Facebook
Julie Zhuo is a Former VP of Product Design at Facebook, and now is currently a significant voice in product design and management, also a big advocate of data.
“…she helped scale the service (Facebook) from 8 million users to over 2 billion in her 13 years there. She has worked on products spanning News Feed and Stories, Groups, video, commerce, and Workplace.”source.
Also, she currently advises teams on building products that people love on Inspirit.
She has a great perspective on building products that are backed by data and plenty of experience in managing design teams, check out her website.
4- Luke Wroblewski – Product Director at Google
Luke Wroblewski is a Product Director at Google, former CEO and Co-founder of Polar (acquired by Google in 2014), and the former Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Bagcheck (acquired by Twitter in 2011).
Aside from his successful career as an entrepreneur, he is a strong voice in UX and web product design. He is the author of three popular books in design: Mobile First, Web Form Design, and Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability.
In addition, he is a former Board Member of Interaction Design Foundation, and the founder of his own product and design consultancy agency LukeW Ideation & Design.
Aside from what he shares on his Twitter these days, he has a strong library of his own articles and presentations which are the products of his 26+ years of design experience.
5- Nathan Curtis – Design Systems Consultant at Eightshapes
Nathan is a co-founder of Eightshapes, a company that designs web-based products focused on beautiful UXs.
He has appeared in many design events over the last years, has led design systems teams at companies such as Target, Discovery Education, Fidelity, Marriott, Cisco, and Capital One.
6- Aaditya Ailawadhi – Designer at Microsoft
Aaditya is a designer at Microsoft, and is invested in UX and product design.
“I spend my time working on building products, services, and experiences that are meaningful, purposeful, and fun.”– Aaditya Ailawadhi
He might not have decades of design experience, but he is a new voice in the industry, a young designer who shares his journey as he explores.
7- Lara Mendonça – Head of Product Design at Bumble
Lara is a London-based design leader and an educator who believes in “better design practices to change our relationship to technology”.
She has 11 years worth of experience in interaction, brand identity, motion, editorial, advertising and illustration; also, she has worked at companies such as TransferWise, HSBC, Mitsubishi as a designer.
She currently is the Head of Product Design at Bumble, which is a dating and connection app. She advises on design and has attended many events as a speaker; also her works were featured in publications such as TechCrunch and Forbes.
8- Fabricio Teixeira – Founder of UX Collective
Fabricio is more of a thought leader in UX and product design, helping fellow designers all over the world catch up with the latest news and trends. He has worked with companies like Google, Samsung, Mailchimp, and Equinox in the past and currently is a designer at Work & Co.
His publication on Medium, UX Collective, is probably the largest UX and Product Design publication with over 400K followers. He writes and curates insightful articles and stories highly interesting for anyone obsessed with design.
There might not be hundreds of thought leaders in product design to follow out there, but the insights and experiences of designers with successful careers is more than plenty for the interested.
Our tomorrows are shaped by the products we will have at our disposal, and the architects of these products should inspire you to do your best on your next project.