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.

Insider

Me gusta la ingeniería, me gusta pensar en procesos y metodologías como forma de coordinar el esfuerzo de un equipo de gente con perfiles diferentes para sacar el mejor producto viable. Cerebro y músculo con objetivos comunes. Como me gusta, disfruto del proceso, más cuando la repercusión del beneficio al finalizarlo no está siempre clara.

Creo que pensar en procesos y metodología forma parte de cualquier ingeniero y también de cualquier persona dedicada a la Experiencia de Usuario (incluso en equipos de un sólo miembro).

De la ingeniería también me gustaba programar, sobre todo cuando era una tarea sencilla, cuando no tenía que salir del shell para hacer cosas chulas, o cuando trabajaba con entornos de desarrollo completos. Cuando el lenguaje que usaba no requería de aprender una serie de cosas inútiles porque no estaba bien pensado para el propósito o arquitectura sobre el que se desplegaría.

Me gustan las cosas sencillas, es decir no me gustan las cosas innecesariamente complicadas por complejas que sean.

Ya sea porque soy ingeniera o me he pasado la vida rodeada de frikies amantes de la tecnología, me gusta conocer las novedades en tecnología que hay en el mercado o en investigación. Me gustan los prototipos, las ideas nuevas y el impacto que ésto tiene en la sociedad.

Y me gusta formar parte de esto como creadora, pensadora, desarrolladora y diseñadora. Por eso pienso que forma parte de mi preparación fundamental mantener siempre la visión más amplia posible en la creación de productos tecnológicos.

Sin embargo, durante varias etapas de mi carrera desde que me matriculara en la factultad en 2001, me he ido encontrando con una serie de mensajes contradictorios de quienes creen estar ahí para enseñarte algo, a saber:

  1. Si no eres un amante del cacharreo no eres informático, pero si no sabes nada sobre matemáticas puedes ser lo que quieras.
  2. Aprender tecnologías frontend, desarrollo web o diseño de interfaz es algo accesorio, pero trabajar en un desarrollo y no tener dorma de que lo utilice un humano es secundario.
  3. Los diseñadores tenemos que aprender a programar, pero no podemos dar nuestra opinión sobre tecnología.
  4. En los negocios la seguridad en uno mismo es importante, pero ojo, lo que para unos es muestra de pasión para otros es muestra de cabezonería.
  5. Las habilidades sociales y emocionales son imprescindibles, a no ser que seas muy crack que se te disculpará todo y podrás tener a un equipo entero envenenado.
  6. A tus empleados, estudiantes, compañeros hay que criticarles siempre para que aprendan, eso sí, el refuerzo positivo será siempre virtual en forma de notas o sueldo, si ninguna de estas cosas llegan allá cada uno con sus frustraciones.

Como decía, me gusta mi profesión, aunque a veces te invadan las dudas, las dudas de otros.

2013 – Catch up

Disclaimer: This is a personal note.

Last March, 2013 I felt the need of a professional change. Somehow I knew that it didn’t necessary mean that I had to leave my current job, although that was actually the first and most immediate plan that came to my mind.

It has been a time of self-searching, the lesson learnt is that I shouldn’t stop now because changes are being happening since that moment.

First, my partner and I decided to move forward and create our own space of creativity. Now it’s just a brand but it’s also a declaration of intentions: we as professional should have our own identity, whether it looks like a brand or it’s just our personal name and twitter account. Fortunately or not, User Experience is a discipline that co-living within an online community and we should be there.

Alongside uxsalad, I started working in the creation of a digital product called elcine.de – sorry, I know there’s nothing visible yet. Encouraged by my passion for films and willingness of enjoying every sort of different movies, I’ve been researching, reading, and ideating to get a better understanding of my target users and create the version Zero of elcine.de: an online platform to live the movies throughout the people who love&hate the movies.

It may sound like yet another social website, but the intend is not that. I want to be the first Spanish platform that contributes to the film culture by bringing the movies back to the people, to us – ok then, it may sound like yet another movie website… fair enough, I’ll work for making a difference, that’s all I can promise now.

Finally, I have to add that, yes, I’m still working 40 hours a week for a company which is providing me other types of challenges and allows me to worry only of enjoying whatever I do both inside and outside it. And No, I’m not keen on the discussion “to start up you have to leave behind everything”. Of course, I wish I had more time, interestingly, is this few time what’s keeping me focused.

Hopefully I can share more about elcine.de in the following weeks, since the first design iteration and a small proof of concept have gave me interesting outcomes.

Cheers.