Photo Credit: pelican via Compfight cc
Product Manager vs. UX Designer
I always advocate in favor of broad definition of User Experience Design practice. The one that contains not only UI design, but whole set of activities that lead to creation of a great product.
Here’s the definition from my recent ebook UX Design for Startups:
“User experience design (abbreviation UX, UXD) – A discipline focused on designing the end-to-end experience of a certain product. To design an experience means to plan and act upon a certain set of actions, which should result in a planned change in the behaviour of a target group (when interacting with a product).
A UX designer’s work should always be derived from people’s problems and aim at finding a pleasurable, seductive, inspiring solution. The results of that work should always be measurable through metrics describing user behaviour. UX designers use knowledge and methods that originate from psychology, anthropology, sociology, computer science, graphic design, industrial design and cognitive science.
When you’re designing an experience, you are in fact planning a change in the behaviour of your target group. You’ve found out their problem and you’re trying to destroy the burden using design methods.
User experience lies at the crossroads of art and science and requires both extremely acute analytical thinking and creativity.”
Planning, measuring, building, validating – that’s pretty broad set of actions, but this is what, I believe, have to be done to create stunning UX Design. The question that’s often asked is the role of Product Manager in that picture. If UX Design is responsible for the product, what Product Manager is responsible for?
I’ve heard from couple of well respected UX Designers, that currently Product Development and User Experience Design are almost the same and in the lean future they actually should become the same. UX Designers are expected to understand business objectives (couldn’t agree more!), be really team oriented (collaboration is crucial!) and guide product through iterations (we should be great at measuring behaviour and acting upon results!).
Is there anything left for Product Managers? Well, in my opinion yes and no. It all depends on the type of organization.
PM = UX Designer
For a small startupish teams UX designer and Product Manager can be the same person. UX designer should well understand business goals, users needs and should be focused on delivering an amazing product. Product done through ongoing, efficient, collaboration with other specialists.
If there’s not a lot of dealing with stakeholders, marketing is done in a guerrilla style, sales are limited to simple activities, financial part of the product is rather obvious, strategy doesn’t need to be adjusted to corporate strategy etc. there’s no need to bring on board additional person.
Small team can deal with most of the problems on their own. In fact this how we work at UXPin.
PM ≠ UX Designer
However if there’s an ongoing need to coordinate work of different departments (sales, marketing), dealing with stakeholders is overwhelming, strategy is as complex as whole organization, marketing is a challenge, engineering team is massive… – there’s definitely place for a Product Manager. PM, in this environment, uses his understanding of the target group and the product, to make sure the train is going in the right direction.
Things mentioned above shouldn’t be done by UX Designer. The danger of loosing focus on the design will be too great.
The little image below sums up he distinction between Product Manager and UX Designer in organizations that actually need both positions
I’m wondering what’s your opinion?
Steve-h via Compfight cc
Wireframing Templates and a Reuse Strategy
One of the most crucial parts of the design process, that’s usually concealed and undervalued, is… benchmarking. I haven’t met a single designer, who wouldn’t browse through dozens of competitors works, before designing an interface.
Studying someone else’s work is a standard practice in the UX industry. We’re looking for inspiration, best practices and solutions to our problems. There’s nothing wrong about that. We’re just trying to act quicker and avoid mistakes made by others. Call it extra precaution – and I’d agree.
Take a look…
Not so long ago (though in pre-UXPin times), I was working as UX Manager. That’s a great position to be. Taking care of interfaces intertwined with taking care of the team of talented designers.
I was constantly thinking about skills great UX designers possess and ways of enhancing these skills among my people.
Let me share with you what skill-set I had (and still have) in mind.
Take a look…
Photo Credit: star5112 via Compfight cc
Cloud App working, even if you’re offline
Imagine this super scary situation: You’re working in you favorite cloud app (let say it’s a wireframing app). Suddenly…. BAM, you lost your Internet connection. The app stopped working and most probably you lost your data.
That’s scary, right?
We thought so.
You know well that ‘shit happens’. You might lose the connection, or the server might be temporary unavailable. That may kill all the benefits of a cloud app. Losing your data is unacceptable.
Having this problem in mind we’ve used local storage (all thanks to our wizard of programming Jacek) to prevent any data loss in case of lack of connection to the cloud.
If you’ll suddenly lose connection to the server, we’ll save your data locally (on your computer) and we’ll let you further use UXPin until the connection will come back. Next time you’ll connect to the server, we’ll synchronize your local data with the server.
Magic? Just a little bit, the rest is hard work.
Check out the scheme below:
With UXPin you’re safe, even if offline.
Due to extreme popularity of this post (thank you so much for all the upvotes on Hackernews, likes etc.), I asked author of this feature to guide you through the meanders of his solution:
“Unfortunately our solution is not generic enough to talk about it in details :) But the general idea is quite simple. We use HTML5-called localStorage object to store changes in user’s projects locally and while the connection is on (or when it comes back), our synchronization mechanism just grabs local data and sends it to server.”/Jacek Złowocki
Lean UX vs. Agile UX – in the kingdom of buzz words and acronyms
User Experience Design world is a well established kingdom of acronyms and buzz words. UX, IxD, IA, UCD, CX, agile UX, lean UX, guerrilla research, strategic UX, Emotional design… we’re swimming in the sea of strange words risking catastrophe of miscommunication of our own field.
Sometimes these words and acronyms differentiate important phenomenons and sometimes they’re… well just buzzwords trying to promote people who coined them.
Many argue that Lean UX is a meaningless term, that doesn’t differ from much older Agile UX. I couldn’t agree less.
- Lean UX expresses important thoughts about processes, that weren’t clearly defined and named before.
- Lean UX is a totally different term than Agile UX.
Lean UX describes methods and their practical application in dynamic environment of a Lean Startup. Lean UX unites product development and business, through constant measurement and so called “learning loops” (build – measure – learn).
Agile UX describes update of Agile Software Methodology with UX Design methods. The ultimate goal of Agile UX is to unify developers and designers in the Agile process of product development.
Interestingly enough most of the Lean UX teams will actually use Agile UX to coordinate their software development. For a startup, Agile is a pretty obvious choice of software development methodology.
For both Agile UX and Lean UX you can efficiently use UXPin – The UX Design App. Rapid prototyping, wireframing, communication throughout the design process – everything’s on board!
2012 meant a huge increase in the number of customers for us, so it was by all means a very successful UXPin year!
But with success comes responsibility*.
Our customers have a wide range of needs and send more feedback than ever before (thank you!). However, we in the UXPin team hasn’t had the manpower to interact with, listen to and help our customers to the extent that we like to. We were all ears, and available for you as often as we could (hope you felt that!)… but well we just want more! You deserve that. We want to be customers obsessed! We’re starting today!
Please welcome Markus Zwick, our customer success coach! Markus, originally from Sweden, made UXPin internally international. He’s definitely bringing new way of thinking into company and we’re proud to have him on board! Let’s hear him!
“Today UXPin welcomed the latest addition to the team. This person will dedicate all his time to improve your experience while interacting with the UXPin product. This include listening to your needs or questions and to convey all of it to the rest of the team. It also includes the task of creating tutorials in our knowledge base.
This person is no other than myself – Markus. One of the first things that people often notice about me is that huge curiosity that I’ve got for everything IT. This curiosity is one of the main reasons why I chose to work in this company, and also the reason why I’ve got much professional experience as well as an academic degree in IT. By now that curiosity has generated a lot of knowledge of IT, User Experience Design and the UXPin product – knowledge that I’ll make sure to use to enhance your experience while working with UXPin! The faith I have in this fantastic product and the team are the two other main reasons.
As a conclusion I’ll once again emphasize the fact that the reason I’m working here is to listen to your needs and questions. UXPin consist of a bunch of extremely experienced and innovative professionals in the field of User Experience Design, so I’m 100 % sure that no request will be too big or impossible for us to carry out. Thus, do not hesitate to tell us what you think that we need to add, improve or even remove!
I’m looking forward to hearing from you all and wish you a truly successful and happy new year!
All the best regards,
Markus Zwick, UXPin Customer Success Coach”
ps. You can contact Markus via e-mail markus.zwick[at]uxpin[dot]com
*Almost exact Spiderman’s saying
New eBay…changing eCommerce, or copying Pinterest?
New eBay! – Twitter have been shaking in excitement since yesterday’s announcement of eBay’s fresh UI design. Just as much as I enjoy their courageous effort to change the service used by millions of people worldwide, I admire the way they’ve announced their intentions.
eBay launched a full blown service about the redesign. They clearly explain what’s going on and inform what changes might be expected in upcoming months. It’s an impressive transparency. If you dig deep enough you can even find simple personas explaining the whole idea behind the fancy design. It’s a great example of customer centered processes that transcend usability testing. I’m honestly impressed. Bravo eBay! Bravo well-understood practice of UX Design!
The design itself is a manifestation of the new idea of eBay:
“The changes we’re making reflect the new eBay and our evolution as a marketplace that connects the world to the things they need and love. Technology is enabling a revolution in how people shop, and eBay is enabling the future of commerce. In the future of commerce, shopping is personal, driven by data. We want to make moments of inspiration instantly shoppable.”
It sounds great and well… the design looks stunning (at least in comparison to the old eBay). Personally I think, there’s nothing wrong with the resemblance of Pinterest famous grid if it brings the company value thanks to growing users satisfaction. Can this vehicle give all eBay’s users an excellent ride? We’ll see. The definite answer will most probably remain obscure for anyone outside eBay’s headquarters.
What we all can do though is… to play with the fresh eBay’s UI. I’ve scalped all visual decorations and recreated eBay new design as wireframing templates. You can upload them as Smart Elements to your UXPin account. Just go to UXPorn and click on “upload wireframe…”.
If you don’t have your UXPin account yet: sign up now for a free trial (up to 30 days!)