In the era of generative AI, what will be the required skills for product designers?
While AI design tools can significantly boost productivity, they aren't magic wands. If you lack the fundamental understanding, even the best tools can't help you create a meaningful product. It's like owning all the equipment but not knowing how to build a house. Regardless of whether we reach the age of Artificial General Intelligence, a strong foundation in design will always be vital.
It's expected that designers will need to hone their soft skills. As AI solves technical issues, the human touch becomes more important. Skills such as communication, critical thinking, empathy, teamwork, adaptability, and self-awareness will be invaluable. This is because understanding the problem, deciding what needs to be created, and coordinating with others will still need a human touch.
We focus on the most important information in a context, amidst an infinite amount of data. Designers, too, will have to make critical decisions on what needs to be done and how, as AI can't fully grasp what's relevant in a given situation.
Designers across all experience levels will need to learn to integrate AI into existing systems and workflows. As of now, this is a rare skill, regardless of whether you're a junior designer or a senior professional. Interestingly, newcomers may have an advantage as they aren't burdened with unlearning outdated mental models.
It may seem that less experienced designers might struggle in the AI era, but their adaptability might turn the tables. For seasoned designers, it's no time for complacency as the landscape is rapidly changing.