To build a dream product, you must first build a dream team.
Every product team looks a little different based on the company’s size, needs, and other factors, but they are all comprised of 3 kinds of roles: product management, user experience, and engineering. A dream team is one where all 3 role types
- collaborate, communicate, and consult with each other, and
- enjoy high-level representation and respect within the organization.
What part does each of these roles play? What unique skills and traits are required of them, and in what ways is each responsible for creating a great user experience?
Product managers are responsible for matching the direction of the product with business goals. As such, they must have a deep understanding of the company’s business objectives and strategies and the target market.
The latter requires close attention to a variety of data, including user research, usability testing, and usage statistics. A strong understanding of the target market relies upon using all of this information to identify what users want, need, and expect from the product.
Based on these insights, the product manager can ensure that the product is viable for the market and plan the future direction.
The product manager also makes sure that the product’s direction is compatible with the marketing strategy, weighing user input against the brand positioning and the need to differentiate from competitors to decide the feature roadmap.
Team members in user experience roles are responsible for the whole design cycle, from research to conceptualization to prototyping and finally to iteration. UX roles are diverse, and may include:
- Information architecture
- Visual design
- Interaction design
- Content strategy
- UX research
Larger teams may have members for each of these; smaller teams may have one or a few people doing combinations of these roles.
Like product managers, UX designers rely on familiarity with the user. Whereas the product manager interprets this information in light of business strategy, however, the UX designer views it from a usability standpoint. The key attribute here is empathy: by stepping into the user’s shoes, it is possible to create designs that are delightful and intuitive to use.
Empathy applies not only to the design process, but to the research process as well. While running usability tests, the researcher needs to clearly understand the user’s goals and the flows they are likely to use, and also communicate effectively with test participants.
Read more: How to write usability testing tasks
Communication is a key skill for every role, but perhaps most of all for UXers. They communicate research findings to the product manager and discuss features and core requirements for the product. They communicate design specifics to the engineering team and discuss what can and cannot be built.
They communicate the value and importance of UX to stakeholders (in companies where UX has management-level representation), and use evidence-backed arguments to attain buy-in from team members of every role. And most importantly, they communicate the product, and everything it has to offer, to the user.
Developers are responsible for turning the UX designer’s prototypes into reality. They are also an active participant in the product roadmap discussion.
Like product managers, developers must be pragmatic, but in terms of technical factors rather than business ones. The developer is responsible for discussing which design solutions are possible or, in many cases, which will be the most time-efficient to implement.
The developer should also be familiar with usability testing data in order to (1) understand the reasons behind UX decisions and (2) see and understand technical issues that users are facing with the product. This information will inform their input in discussions with the UX designer and guide code fixes.
Lastly, precision is a key skill for the developer. Clean, high-quality code makes for faster-loading pages, and makes future product changes and updates much easier. By building an optimized code base, developers contribute to a superior user experience and a more effective team workflow.
Want to learn more about building and facilitating powerful UX teams?
Sign up for the webinar April 28th to hear about Darren Hood’s experiences as Manager of User Experience at Bosch.