As a product manager, you try to find the best solutions to customer problems to create a better customer journey. While analyzing the problem and assessing your options, you work with different teams such as designers.
Designers help you define a problem, find possible solutions, craft the process and iterate the flow. As a PM you can wear the designer hat yourself or seek help from designers, according to your company’s structure. Regardless of who applies the process though, it needs to be continuously improved.
In this article, you’ll learn about continuous product design and its phases, as well as common mistakes that PMs often make.
Continuous product design is an ongoing activity that loops between the design, prototype, test, release, and feedback stages. Product designers work hard to create the best solution within the endless feedback process and aim to achieve long-term market success.
To create successful products, you should implement the product design processes within your product life cycle. Product designers serve as the voice of customers in the system. They observe and understand customers’ needs, behaviors and expectations.
As a product manager you’re responsible for leading the product design process. Each of the five steps of the design process allow you to create the best version of your product for your customers:
The design step is where you create empathy and try to understand customer needs. Your aim is to integrate the requirements together and try to create a wireframe or a basic flow. Your UX and UI teams can help you to create a successful customer experience according to the feedback and user behaviors.
If you stay out of the design process, you risk letting your team release a product that misses some of your customers’ needs.
In the prototype stage, you select a possible solution and create a potential draft version. This allows you an opportunity to test your project against customer feedback before you go through with development.
Jumping right ahead to the end product can be dangerous. These products will lack the opportunity to collect customer ideas and iterate with new ideas. Also, the prototype process is important for flushing out design problems inside the potential solutions.
After you select a potential solution, it’s time to develop and release your MVP. With an agile development process you’ll see customer reactions to your solution as quickly as possible.
Feedback s is where your new design process starts. You launched your solution, so now it’s time to collect ideas to fill the gaps inside the product.
Even if you work for months to define the best solution, you’ll still learn lots of things from your potential end users. Feedback can open up a window to something you never would’ve imagined.
Product design types basically can vary according to the area you are working. You can see “Motion Design, Industrial Design, User Experience Design, Graphic Design” etc. as types. In this article we will focus more on the software product development world. That’s why our product design types will be more focused to below options:
Every successful product has a seamless end user journey that comes from a well-designed user interface. You can think of the interface as what and how your customers see all your efforts in the backend.
As a product manager you need to help designers create a flow with only required fields so that customers will not get lost in the way to get from point A to point B. User research, a user journey map, wireframes can be used to create the best end user experience.
After a release you should check the user journey to see how much time they spent to achieve the action they take. A successful interface guides end users to what they’re looking for at a glance.
System design is the architecture of the product you’re building. The system designer handles categories, optimization and organization of the information. As interface designers, they also highlight the features that customers care the most about.
System designers are also responsible for organizing placement of the important features within the product. They prepare customer journey maps to develop the best option. They guide the users to the place the company wants to sell more.
Because of this, it’s important for you to share your product vision before the system design phase. A successful system design is important for a product manager to highlight future plans and achieve product goals.
Process design includes the entire customer journey from signing up for the platform to purchasing an item. Searching for items, categorization, the size of the buttons, and proceeding to next steps should be as easy as possible. The designer should be careful to create efficient user flows that benefit the company.
Before agile PMs worked in waterfall methodologies. Release processes were slower and customer feedback only occurred in the final phases of development.
Imagine you made a mistake and the development team went ahead and developed the product unknowingly. When you show the product to end users they’ll reject the product and it’ll be too late to fix the problem. Now you have a costly and painful product scandal.
Instead, you can decrease the development time. Consider running two weeks sprints (rather than three months). In this scenario you can produce a draft version that you can show to the customer and receive feedback before you commit too many resources to an infeasible solution.
Product design is a continuous process and there is always room for learning. You need to be open minded and listen to customers’ needs. After an important feature release, remember to check back in and gauge opinions?
Regardless of what industry you work in, don’t fill all your time with development. Let your customers test your product and help you fine-tune your end result.
Featured image source: IconScout
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