Striking a Balance — Design & Product
Working with a great product manager can be an extremely rewarding experience. As product designers we’re used to handling all the different aspects of a project, and it’s kind of our job to obsess over some of the details. Working with someone who shares just as much passion for great products spurs innovation and helps us delight our users.
Having a good product manager I can trust means I am comfortable relying on them to gather complex functional requirements for whatever we might be building. I trust they’ve gone out and done their homework. Made sure the requirements they are putting together fit well with our users’ needs and propel our product forward. I can’t help but feel like I am responsible for this too, but it’s great to have someone dedicated to this specific task.
“Asking questions gives room for creative solutions“
Typically we sit in a room together for a few hours and go through the requirements, breaking them down, drawing concepts and ideas on a whiteboard. As a designer, I question everything. I take mental notes, write down points and sketch down ideas. I know they rely on me to distill all of this information into a beautiful, functional design. Asking lots of questions helps me dig really deep into why we might be doing something and gives me room for creative solutions. If you don’t ask questions and just take everything at face value you can very quickly get boxed into one way of thinking. As a designer this can be dangerous because you might miss obvious opportunities for innovation.
“Focus on what it is you’re trying to solve not the solution”
Often times I find a PM might put together a set of rough wireframes to illustrate their idea or solution to a specific problem. I typically try to avoid seeing these until we’ve had a discussion about what we are trying to solve. This helps focus the conversation around the problem not the solution being presented.
Designing a great product or feature takes time and iteration. The PM is your best friend when it comes to getting your carefully crafted design into the hands of users. Being in harmony with the product managers that I work with ensures we hold each other accountable to a high standard and always deliver the best experience possible.