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There is often a huge emphasis on analytical skills, instead of UX skills, when it comes to product management job descriptions. What role does UX play in product management?

6 Answers
Mamuna Oyofo, MBA
Mamuna Oyofo, MBA
Shopify VP of ProductFebruary 9

It likely depends on the type of role you are entering into, the focus and phase of the product. It also will likely depend on whether the company has invested a lot in building out an existing UX team. I am biased because I have built out product design teams and therefore see true value in anyone who is working on product understanding experience fundamentals. If you have the best idea for a product but no one understands how to actually use it and get value, what use is the product to begin with. Instead of coming up with that great idea and then throwing it over the fence to you UX team, it would be better to approach your customer problem roundly and understand what you are hearing fully. 

695 Views
Clara Lee
Clara Lee
Hootsuite VP, ProductJuly 27

I'm actually curious if this is widespread, as I've not seen in current or previous Product roles analytical skills being considered more valuable than UX... 

While analytical skills are important for looking at customer data in aggregate and prioritizing problems by impact, UX skills help PMs dig into the "why" and "how" our customers think and operate. It's a balance: We don't want PMs that "hide behind the numbers," nor do we want PMs that entirely base roadmaps on a handful of customer interviews / limited qualitative feedback.

400 Views
Aleks Bass
Aleks Bass
Typeform Vice President Product ManagementFebruary 28

The awareness and impact UX plays on the success of a product is probably the most underrated and underdeveloped skill set in the product management function today. UX plays a critical role in product management. It helps product managers understand the needs of their users and how to design a product that meets those needs. 

UX also helps product managers understand how to create a product that is intuitive, attractive, engaging, easy to use, and accessible to all users.

A product manager that has invested in their understanding of UX has many advantages as I see them:

  1. They tend to have a much better relationship with their design counterparts and they work well together in thoughtfully considering the kind of experience they are trying to create.
  2. On average they are much more creative when solving their customers' experience challenges and often see opportunities that are less linear and more outcome focused.
  3. Typically empathy and realism are strengths they embody. PMs that understand UX rarely release a feature that cannot be found. They have their fair share of opportunities to optimize customer experiences, but they are less likely to underestimate the importance of a clear CTA for instance.
  4. They can unlock hidden growth reserves. Many product managers focus on features, and the story is always supported by the thousands of requests for specific features from key customers or opportunities, but PMs that understand UX know that half of their growth (a very rough %), is driven by the delightfulness of the experience and how well it exceeds the expectations of their customers. As a result, they intentionally invest in it.
  5. PMs that understand UX know that even a slight color change, wording shift, or movement of a button can have an outsized effect on the outcomes they are trying to drive. This understanding helps them limit the disruption to their customers by validating experiences before a "full launch" to make sure there are no negative unintended consequences.
  6. + many more examples

Many contrarians to this opinion will say: "It's the design team's responsibility to drive the UX." While this may be true to a point, it is much more effective for a designer to work with someone that has a basic understanding of UX principles and their importance to the outcome, than not for many of the reasons mentioned above.

525 Views
Anton Kravchenko
Anton Kravchenko
Carta Sr. Director of Product ManagementMarch 14

Usually, tech companies organize their teams so that there is a fully dedicated UX designer accompanying each PM. I can't say the same about data teams. 

Almost in every company, PMs own KPIs for their product area. This means that you have to define what metrics your engineering team needs to capture and instrument dashboards that inform your product roadmaps. 

384 Views
Sailaja Kalle
Sailaja Kalle
Gainsight Director, Product ManagementJuly 13

User experience (UX) plays a critical role in product management, as it is the overall experience of a person using a product or service. A positive UX can lead to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, while a negative UX can drive customers away. As a product manager, it is important to prioritize UX in the development process and regularly gather feedback from customers to improve the UX of the product. This can involve conducting user research, usability testing, and analyzing user data to understand how customers are interacting with the product and identify areas for improvement. Additionally, product managers should work closely with UX designers to ensure that the product is easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and meets the needs of the target audience.

404 Views
Tara Wellington
Tara Wellington
BILL Senior Director of Product ManagementDecember 19

The role that UX plays in product management can vary depending on what type of PM role you are in. If you are working on a platform team building ML models or a growth team dedicated to pricing, the role of UX may not be as prominent as it would be if you are on a feature or workflow team. However, I would argue that it is always a key skill that PMs need in any role - and is just as important as analytic skills.

Behind UX is ultimately the question, "How is the customer going to interact with this product/experience?" This is an important question to think through no matter what type of product role you are in. Ultimately it helps ground you in what value or impact you want to deliver to the customer - which is critical for internal customers and external customers.

If you think about some of the key metrics that PMs are usually using in analytics:

  • Conversion

  • Adoption

  • Engagement

  • Retention

These metrics can help you understand "what" is happening and help to pinpoint problem areas. UX and UX research is usually much better at helping you understand the "why" of what is happening. And once you find an area you want to address, often times UX is one of the key levers that you have to address the problem.

While most PMs are working directly with a UX partner, it is important for PMs to:

(1) Deeply understand the UX of their product

(2) Have a basic understanding of key UX concepts (brand and style guide, grids and layouts, design system, navigation patterns, negative space, accessibility)

These two skill sets will help ensure UX gets the attention and prioritization it deserves, as well as improve your relationship with your UX partners.

One great example of this was when we worked on WordPress onboarding at GoDaddy. We used analytics to see that only a small percentage of customers who purchased the Managed WordPress product ever got visitors to their website. Once we understood the analytics and saw where the problems were, we had to find out why. We started with UX research and saw that many customers couldn't figure out how to get a template installed. We then worked with the UX team to design an onboarding that brought template installation to the front of the flow - and made it very visual so customers could find a template they liked. Then we worked with engineering to build it. In this example, the analytical skills were valuable however, they only got us part of the way. UX helped us close the gap to know what to fix and how to solve the customer problem.

411 Views
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