Contact Us

Truly global and proudly local. We've been serving the US for over 30 years, expanding offices across New York, California and Austin.

Get in touch

Our industry specialists will listen to your aspirations and share your story with the most prestigious organisations in the US. Together, let’s write the next chapter of your career.

See all jobs

Together, we’ll map out career-defining, life-changing pathways to achieve your career ambitions. Browse our range of services, advice, and resources.

Learn more

Leading employers across the US trust us to deliver fast, efficient hiring solutions that are tailored to their exact requirements. Browse our range of bespoke services and resources.

Read more
About Robert Walters United States

For us, recruitment is more than just a job. We understand that behind every opportunity is the chance to make a difference in people's lives.

Learn more

Work for us

Our people are the difference. Hear stories from our people to learn more about a career at Robert Walters United States.

Learn more
Contact Us

Truly global and proudly local. We've been serving the US for over 30 years, expanding offices across New York, California and Austin.

Get in touch

Making the transition from visual to product design

Making the transition from visual to product design

In the current design market, we often interact with visual designers trying to make the jump into product design. Whether you want to make the switch for the challenge, the compensation, or the opportunity to create a user-centric design, the move can often be a very rewarding one.

Making a career change in design isn't always easy, but already having a background in graphic design or UI offers many transferable and relevant skills for product design. Product design connects users’ needs and business goals through a process of research, testing, and refinement (reiteration). While traditional visual design focuses on visual appeal only, product designers concentrate on visual appeal, usability, and feel of a product.

When hiring for a junior product design role, hiring managers can be open to designers with visual-leaning backgrounds, as UX and design processes can be taught. In order to stand out while having little experience, it’s important to convey strong drive and ambition in your portfolio and throughout the interview process. Pete Petras, Head of Design- Financial Products at Uber says that “a designer’s level of initiative is is a crucial aspect managers consider in deciding whether or not to invest in a potential candidate.”

We recommend focusing on the following four areas in order to ensure a smooth transition from visual to product design:


They say practice makes perfect, and that’s especially true when it comes to developing and improving on your UI skills. Ensure you ask the right questions before diving into a design, keeping in mind the problem you are attempting to solve. Participating in Daily UI challenges can be a great way to stretch your creative muscles. Additionally, Petras recommends “redesigning an app that you use frequently, and putting it in your portfolio as a personal project.”

Build up your portfolio

Dedicating time and effort to your portfolio is essential for remaining competitive while applying for junior product design roles. “Deep dive into 2-3 meaty projects and include some additional visual work to showcase your design aesthetics,” says Petras. There is no need to overload your portfolio with every design project you’ve ever worked on. “Keep the portfolio simple and concise,” he says, “and update it only with your most recent work.”

Find someone who’s “been there, done that”

Not everyone can speak to a Sr. Manager of Product Design like Pete Petras whenever they need advice. However, to truly learn the design thinking behind product design, having the right mentor is crucial.

To find the right mentor for you, try taking a product design course, or engaging with a network such as Designed. Reach out to individuals who are already part of your own network who may have taken a similar career path, or simply let your current or new manager know your desire to make the switch. Asking for candid feedback can feel vulnerable, but it is a great way to truly improve your design skills.

Try looking internally

Some designers have an easier time making the switch from visual to product design internally. Building your product design skills in this space means you have time to exercise your UI thinking while gaining the confidence and expertise to succeed elsewhere. 

Share this article

Useful links

Sign up for job alerts
Salary Survey
Career Advice
Get in touch

Find out more by contacting one of our specialist recruitment consultants

Related content

View All

The benefits of salary benchmarking

Salary benchmarking allows companies to establish whether their senior executives’ remuneration packages are in line with the rest of the market. Here, we explore it in more detail. In some cases, businesses don’t want to risk losing their top executives to offers of better pay packages from competi

Read More

Looking for a fulfilling job? Ask yourself these 6 key questions

Dreading another dull day in the office? If you’ve lost your passion for work, it could be time to make a break. Find a job you love by asking yourself these six essential questions… What do you actually like about work? When trying to figure out your dream job, it can be tempting to do just that: c

Read More

How to find an employer you can believe in

We all want to work for a company that we can feel good about and that’s aligned with our core values. So how do you find an employer you can believe in? Here are a few key questions to ask… We spend around a third of our adult lives at work, according to the World Health Organisation. Of course, ma

Read More

I'm Robert Walters Are you?

Come join our global team of creative thinkers, problem solvers and game changers. We offer accelerated career progression, a dynamic culture and expert training.