Me and my team of product owners spend more time with designers than with our developer community. My team always comes back with the concern that designer through-put is not as quick as expected and slowing down the development cycle. Hearing this feedback, I initiated an exercise of empathizing with my designers to understand their world, how they operate, what they wish product managers know.
Following are my few learnings:
Design is more of art than a science
A designer operates from the right brain in which he/she tries to understand social, empathetic, qualitative challenges that the user faces. In this process, the designer develops a deep understanding of the user. Designers expect to work with product managers in engaging customers along the way, with an iterative process of failing and learning fast as part of the journey.
Design is more strategic
User experience is not just a user interface, it is the entire end-to-end experience of the product that the user is dealing with. User experience is about how a user engages with your product, service and all the touchpoints of a company. The designer needs to be engaged in all the aspects of product and service design to serve the user with a great experience. One of the good examples of a designer who had a great impact on strategy is Rebecca Sinclair, Head of User Experience Research and Design at Airbnb. She leveraged design thinking to see completely new possibilities in how Airbnb thought, about which problems to solve and what to build.
Design has many roles
As a product manager, you might be interacting with one person on Design. However, there are many roles that complete the design role. The following are a few roles in the design world.
Interaction Designer – this role is responsible for developing a deep understanding of the target users (each user profile that you’re trying to satisfy with your product), and coming up with the tasks, navigation, and flow that is both usable and satisfying. Generally, the interaction designer maps product requirements to a design represented by wireframes and passes them to the visual designer.
Visual Designer – this role puts flesh on the wireframe and creates the actual pages and user interface look and feel, which includes everything from the precise layout, colors, and fonts, but more importantly, the visual design that communicates and evokes emotion in the product (which is far more important than you may think).
Rapid Prototype – this role creates “disposable” software – the lifespan of the prototype may be less than a day – the purpose is to quickly try out an idea by creating something that simulates the intended user experience.
Usability Tester – this role specializes in evaluating whether the prototype allows a given user to easily achieve his objectives. It includes recruiting appropriate test subjects, administering the tests, evaluating the results, and recommending alternatives.
Design is more iterative and cannot be time-bound
Keeping in context all the above-mentioned points, by now a product manager should have realized that Design must be iterative and cannot be time-bound. Product managers should be willing to experiment, learn and iterate with the design. Design iteration helps rapid resolution of misunderstandings, brings out user feedback, and gives the team a certainty that their efforts are being focused and adding value to the customer. A Product manager should engage and closely work with product designers at every stage of the product life cycle.
Design is never done
User expectations, constraints and context in which users interact with the product are ever-changing. It is very critical that design needs to evolve, meet and exceed this ever-changing environment. Many firms constantly invest in design to raise the bar of craftsmanship and serve the user better. One such example is Microsoft redesign Windows 10 Outlook and Calendar apps.
This article was originally published here.