Designers: A PM’s Best Friend

When it comes to being successful in a product management role, your interaction designer should be your best friend. You should be constantly sharing requirements, ideas and collaborating regularly with your designer.

Key Considerations for Working with your Designers:

  1. Provide Requirements at the Beginning

As a product manager, you must give all of the information that you have at the start of the project. Share the research, competitive landscape, and goals to be accomplished. Make sure you are constantly feeding information as new features are considered and others are discarded.

If you fail to provide all of the requirements, you’ll prolong the project and your designer may get frustrated with you by not giving the full story. In software, we expect changes and adjustments, but you want to make sure your designer can create a design that will encompass all of the experiences for the user that are needed. You can always scale back and remove a feature or requirement if it’s too much to get out in the first release. However, having the designer look at the full project holistically will benefit your product in the long run.

2. Be Open to their Ideas and Suggestions

Remember that your designers – interaction and visual – are experts in design. They have the “eye” for good design and should be bringing ideas to the table regularly. Designers should be looking at competitors and standardized interactions that can be utilized. Your designer has many more years of experience in design than you do, so make sure you give them the opportunity to bring their best ideas forward.

3. Collaborate and Brainstorm Regularly

You should schedule regular check-ins – either in person or over the phone. Reviewing the designs and the intentions together as a team – with the development team as well – will ensure everyone is on board with the direction and interactions that are planned. Make sure you always keep in mind the user’s perspective and the goals to be accomplished. If you do that, you will succeed as a team.

4. Work within their Domain

There are many tools that designers can use to share their designs and get feedback from their product managers. My team uses InVision but many prototyping tools are available like Axure, Marvel, UXPin, and more. Designers need feedback quickly so they can continue to adjust and get to the final designs. This communication is key to keeping your project moving. If your designer thinks you are slacking on providing feedback, it will put a strain on the relationship.

As product managers, we must always think about the big picture and strategy. Utilizing all of your team members’ skills and experience is the key to succeeding. If everyone has a clear role and together you have goals to accomplish, then you will be able to move forward quickly. Being a product manager is a balancing act because you are making long term strategic decisions as well as short term tactical decisions. You have to rely on your team, especially your designers, so you can continue to move your product forward. Build a solid relationship with your designers, and you’ll see positive results and success for the entire team.