A good user experience is a must for the success of a product. That is why UX has become so important nowadays. But do Product Managers need to be masters of UX design?
Product Managers have to interact a lot with designers in their day-to-day job. Designers tend to think about the user experience and flow much more than Product Managers but what they miss out on is the product strategy for the long term, business needs, allocation of the limited resources available etc. That is why it is necessary that Product Managers and UX designers work in tandem to deliver a great product to the consumer.
Making good decisions as a Product Manager requires one to have, out of many other things, a keen sense of interaction design. The focus of a Product Manager should be to deliver a product that keeps on simplifying the user experience with every iteration, yet keep on innovating as well.
So as someone who drives the entire process, what UX design skills should a Product Manager possess? Let’s find out.
As a Product Manager, you should be able to create personas with their name, picture, characteristics and objectives or goals. These personas should be as realistic as possible. Personas help you understand your end-consumer and what they want from your product, in more depth.
Visual Design Elements
Knowing and understanding basic visual design elements can help you communicate with the designer more effectively. You will start understanding the trade-offs in visual design and how the UX team makes its decisions. If you want to provide better feedback about visual design or just want to be taken seriously as a Product Manager, it is always better to discuss design in terms of the typography, hierarchy, legibility, alignment etc. instead of just saying that the text is too small or the shape of the logo does not look right.
A Product Manager has to know the overall architecture of a site or app and how information flows through the different pages or activities of the product. As a Product Manager, you should know these so that you can provide constructive and meaningful feedback to the UX team. You should be comfortable with wireframing, storyboarding and user journeys.
User Research/Product Validation
A great Product Manager is also a great customer advocate, who understands his customers and what they truly want, very well. He empathises with them and brings their pain points forward to solve them. Thus as a Product Manager, you would need great user research skills to generate insights for your product. You need to be good with A/B testing, usability testing, product demonstrations etc.
It matters a lot for your customers to find your app functional, almost as much as the interaction design. When I talk about functionality, I mean operability here. How quickly does your app open, how much does it lag during peak performance, how smooth is the transition between screens etc. are questions you should be able to ask and then answer too for the sake of your customer.
The best Product Managers have impeccable design sense/taste. One does not need to be a great designer for that but the ability to recognise great design should be present.
How do you do that? Simple. Go through all sorts of design and try to understand what makes them good or bad. Thinking critically about design will eventually help you hone your skills and make the right design decisions.
The whole idea behind Product Managers understanding and being good with elementary design principles is that they can give meaningful feedback to the UX designer when it is needed. The feedback should be related to the end-user or the product. A Product Manager shall earn the respect of the UX designer only if and when his feedback helps better the product. A great Product Manager also would not micro-manage the UX team for the simple reason being that they know their job better than he does. He makes the work of the UX team easier by facilitating the process and understanding the customer’s needs thoroughly instead of being a bottleneck. A little respect from one side can earn the respect from the other side as well.
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