Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Transitioning from User Experience to Product Management: Part 1

User Experience to Product Manager ...

"User experience (UX) professionals are increasingly becoming interested in the business aspects of what they do. At their core, the user experience roles focus on understanding user needs and creating useful and easy-to-use products that address those needs.

User experience professionals often get frustrated when their research, designs, and ideas are not given the respect they feel they deserve. There isn’t a UX professional who hasn’t had a bad experience with a stakeholder who, despite their lack of customer interaction or knowledge of needs and workflows, overrules a research-based design on their gut feeling or unfounded opinion.

Increasingly, many UX professionals feel that they have the experience and insight to wield more authority and make a larger impact on the products they help to build. Product management is garnering more interest from interaction designers (IxDs), information architects (IAs), and UX designers looking to increase their influence and ensure user-centered product development.

Becoming a product manager is a logical move for many UX practitioners, as it requires many of the same skills, traits, and competencies involved in crafting a user experience. Additionally, product management is a common role within many organizations, making it easy to transition to a role that already exists. However, IAs and IxDs looking to make this move should examine the trade-offs if they choose this direct path to influence.

... The differences between product management and user experience

While the responsibilities of product managers are broad and strategic, product managers are also held accountable for tactical activities to create a product that embodies that strategy. At this more granular level, there can be some questions about how PM and UX overlap. As Jonathan Korman writes:

When I describe what I do to people who have not encountered the term “interaction design” before, I say first that “I look at users’ needs, figure out what kind of product best addresses them, and create a behavior specification for that product which the development team then uses as requirements to drive their work.” Often people say, “In my organization, we call that a ‘product manager.’” (2)

At first glance, UX roles and product management can seem amazingly similar. However, when you take a closer look, you see that PM and UX differ pointedly in responsibility, focus, and reliance."    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows)    [Usability Resources]


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