From UX to Product Design

You may have read the article published by Eric Eriksson explaining the meaning of Product Design from the perspective of other ux-related roles such as Interaction & UX Desginers, Animation Designers, User Researches, Data Analysts, Prototypers (I love this one) and Business Strategists.

He states that

Product Design is the whole process

I remember that when we started talking about UX, UX was also the whole process considering that a UX designer was meant to drive and be reponsible of it. What a huge ambition right?

Our mistake (and our reality) was thinking that the UX individual was alone in this process.

Now that we have assumed that there are a lot of specialiaties, including the UX Specialists, we need to go back to think who was the person that ensured that the whole process is driving the good solution. So for that leading or visionary role we need to talk about Product Designers.

For sure UX is not alone in the dark, but an important gear to create and deliver digital products. This means that Product Design intersects with Business & Marketing, with Quality Assurance & Sales, and still keep their feet in the ground during the implementation of the product to facilitate delivery.

While I write this I remember one of the most highlighted ideas during the last UX Spain conference, where senior UX experts reached the conclusion that in order to do an ejoyable, useful and usable product for users, UX Designers had to become Product Owners (PO).

Product Owner is a popoluar term in agile methodologies and is the person who’s meant to speak the customer voice as well as validate that the delivery is aligned with the requirements.

Problems that I see with the terminology of Product Owner is that, firstly, not in all scenarios Users are the same as Customers and even if they are, not all our customers behaves in the same way. So considering that one person is capable of represent Users requirements without practicing any User Research technique is hard to believe. Secondly, the ‘validation’ state can be done only if your requirements, definition of done and acceptance criteria are clearly stated before the development starts, and in order to do that you’d still need exploratory design, co-creation or any other analytical artefact that puts users needs and expectations in the center.

So yes, I share the conclusion of considering that UX has to become a PO, but then we need to re-define what Product Owner really means.

And here comes the third of my thoughts regarding the transition of User Experience experts toward Product-something: Strategy is all.

Process are good, keep people working efficiently through all the stages. Ownership if shared is even better, since everybody feels that everyone is an equal part of the end result and we all success or fail together.

But what really kills the old-fashion way of delivering software is Strategy. And the premise of many (if not all) UX speacilists is the assumption that a product designed to meet user goals and create a positive experience with it has to be part of any strategy to make it adopted, and so be sold.

Yes, we can sell with our sales guys, we can look smart because our technology is smart and let our customers think that they’re doing an smart purchase, but the long-term goal of creating and enduring relation between our users and our products has to be based on the path of the User Experience. There’s no better promise of quality that a good quality product delivered on time. Deliverying functionalities without considering how users will interact with them (macro interaction) is as risky as ignoring that the small details and developed components are not the high priority focus of the delivery (micro interactions).

At least this is what I think while I aspire to become a good Product Designer some day.

Sgd. A UX specialist apprentice.

If this make any sense it’s in my head, if you (dis)agree, you can blame on the comments of this post.