In many companies, the product manager and the UX designer roles go hand in hand. This week’s post is an introduction to the UX designer role, how it’s similar (and different) to the product manager role, and how the two effectively work together to deliver a great product.
Before who dive deeper into the two roles, let’s first explain the role of the UX designer. User experience (UX) design is a discipline that covers the end-to-end experience of a product. UX designers are responsible for understanding the target users’ challenges when using a particular product and then designing an elegant solution that helps users solve those challenges.
It just so happens that this overlaps with product managers’ goals. It’s not surprising that there’s a lot of confusion where one role ends and the other begins. In fact, in many smaller startups, the product manager is also the UX designer. This person is expected to understand the market and business goals, the user needs, and the best way to prioritize features and manage a team.
However, when teams get larger, stakeholders become more numerous, and the company expands, the two roles are split into more specialized positions. This makes a lot of sense because at this point it becomes impossible for one person to take on so many tasks and responsibilities and still be effective in delivering the product. In these cases it’s clearer what each role entails:
- Responsible for the overall success of the product
- Coordinates with different departments and stakeholders
- Defines requirements and prioritizes features
- Takes on a higher-level understanding of user needs and product design
- Responsible for the success (usability) of the product design
- Conducts usability studies and research
- Defines the product layout and how it will best function
- Takes on a very focused understanding of user needs and designs to solve user’s problems
In order for product managers to effectively work together with UX designers, it’s important for PMs to understand that they are responsible for the bigger picture – collaborating among all the groups, making a strong case for the product vision, defining the what – and not the authority when it comes to specific UX designs.
In other words, product managers should work closely with UX designers to better understand the users, because UX designers are by virtue of their role usually the closest to actual users.
Product managers should look to UX designers for their expertise in product design and usability studies, while at the same time lending a critical eye in making sure everything makes sense in the larger context.
UX designers also benefit from having a good understanding of the business context and recognizing that there are many other factors involved that a product manager needs to take into account. When all is said and done, both the product manager and the UX designer share the same ultimate goal – to create the best possible product with amazing user experience design.
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