Teamwork: The product manager and UX designer

A discussion came up today on one of Nokia’s internal social discussion forums about how Product Managers should interact with User Experience designers. I was shocked to read that quite often not only do the Product Manager and UX Designer not really work together, but they don’t get along well at all. This is, to me, a very bad omen for the product…

My view is that the product manager and UX designer/design team need to a) work together on the product design and development, and b) understand and respect each other’s skills and strengths.

The product design is at the end of the day a compromise between the ideal user flow/experience, what is possible in terms of technology (eg, is that flow possible on this device or in that web browser?), and what is possible in terms of schedule or budget (eg, can we build that with the resources and time we have available?).

The UX designer should be an expert at building delightful experiences within certain constraints. The development team should be experts at building lean and fast software. In this landscape, it is the role of the Product Manager to pull the pieces together, make priority calls and find the balance between what is ideal and what is possible. (Striking the right balance is an artform).

The UX designer is not a customer of the Product Owner, or vice versa. If the UX designer ever utters the words “the requirements are not clear”, then the UX designer has missed the point and misunderstood their role.

The lead UX designer for a product should be like the Product Manager’s right brain. They need to work question each other, to challenge each other, to push each other. But most of all, they need to work together to create the best product possible. This means they need to share the same vision and have the same ultimate product goal.

The experience is the product.

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