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Product Design Jargon Buster

There’s lots of terminology in the world of product design. This growing glossary of terms is to get everyone on the same page!
illustration with textured background resembling computer code and buzzwords on top

Welcome to the Ultimate Product Design Jargon Buster!

We know there’s a lot to cover, from design to dev to product management. So, we put together this glossary as a handy reference. We’ll be updating this list as we go, but here are the first 20 terms for product designers (and their teams!) to understand.

Product Design Jargon Buster

Application Programming Interface (API)

An API is software that helps multiple applications interact with each other, and access information and data easily.

Backend

The part of an app or website users don’t see. It’s where engineers come in. Backend refers to the server or database that functionally supports the frontend, which is what users see.

Beta test

The final testing round of a product, among a limited audience. The goal is to detect and solve as many bugs as possible before releasing to a wider audience.

Design system

A set of components that guide designers and developers. It sets their visual style (think: typography, iconography, and color palette), but it can also document accessibility and editorial principles.

image of design system with typography, icons and color palette

Discovery

The phase of development and planning where a product’s need or value is assessed.

Frontend

The part of an app or website the user sees. It’s the visual elements and coding that dictate the way users interact with a product.

Information Architecture (IA)

Websites and apps need structure. Information Architecture organizes content so a user can easily navigate a product and access its information.

simple graphical mockup of a sitemap

Intellectual Property (IP)

When a designer or developer creates something, they map out its intended use. Intellectual Property refers to the parts of a design the owner may want to protect from unintentional use. IP can be protected with patents and design registration.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

An early version of the product built with simple features and using the fewest amount of resources. Feedback from the MVP helps designers and developers improve the product.

Product-Market Fit

This is how well the product satisfies its intended market or audience.

Responsive design

A design approach that makes sure websites and pages automatically adapt to different devices and screen sizes.

Illustrations of a web page resized on different screen sizes

Persona

A representation or summary of someone who might use the product or service. Personas are based on research and data. They help the team understand who they’re creating for and what that user’s needs may be.

Prototype

A model version of the product that’s used for testing purposes.

Sitemap

A hierarchy of a website’s pages, media, and files. A sitemap helps designers and developers plan a site’s structure and navigation.

Sprint

A short period (usually 2-3 weeks) where designers and developers work on specific tasks and deliverables.

User Experience (UX)

The overall experience a user has with a product, physical or digital. UX details the interactions a user has with a product or service from start to finish.

User Interface (UI)

The visual experience a user has with a product. A product’s look and feel determines how the user interacts with it.

User journey

The path a person takes when interacting with a website, app or any digital experience.

User journey map

The map visualizes the user journey or the process a user has to go through to achieve a goal on a website or app. It details the steps required to access information, complete a task, purchase a product, or use a new tool or piece of software.

Wireframe

Every product needs a blueprint and that’s what a website’s wireframe is. Taking the user journey into account, it lays out a site or a page’s basic structure, functionality, and information architecture.

wireframe mockup with gray boxes as element placeholders

There’s always more to learn

The product design and dev world is vast and always growing, and these are just a few terms we use every day. Our Jargon Buster is a living document we’ll update periodically, so be sure to check back for new additions to the list! 

May 14, 2021product design, design