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The UX Responsibilities of a Product Manager – Part 1

by Gary Schroeder

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

When defining new products, one of key objectives for a Product Manager is achieving product/market fit; without it, nothing else matters.

But what exactly is product/market fit (PMF)?

To help us understand more clearly, let’s consider the following framework–adopted from the premiere product design firm IDEO. For IDEO, this framework helped codify innovation; for us, it will codify product/market fit.

To achieve PMF, our products need to find the intersection of three meta-themes:innovation-desirable-viable-possible

  • Desirability – this theme is fundamentally answering the question: “Do people want it?”
  • Feasibility – this theme is fundamentally answering the question: “Can we build it?”
  • Viability – this theme is fundamentally answering the question: “Will it be financially worthwhile for us to build it?”

Achieving this intersection is a pass/fail test.

If you build something that nobody wants, you fail. If you build something that people want but you lose money doing so, you fail.  If you identify a potentially profitable product that people really want but you can’t build, you fail.  To pass, you need all three.

It All Starts with Desirability

For this article today however, we will be focusing exclusively on Desirability which can be broken down into two questions that need validating:

“The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least 10 times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing. Two or three times better will not be good enough to get people to switch to the new thing fast enough or in large enough volume to matter. – Ben Horowitz

  1. Problem Validation – Is There a Prevailing Problem?

Product as built to solve problems;  and when attempting to answer the question, “Do people want it?” we are fundamentally answering the question, “Do people have the problem my product solves?”

Effectively answering this question requires knowing:

  • Who these people are (e.g. age, gender, internet habits, buying patterns, etc)?
  • How many of them are there (e.g. Total Available Market, Serviceable Market, Target Market)?

If no one has the problem you’re solving, or too few people have the problem your product solves, your product doesn’t pass the desirable test and there is no reason to build a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

  1. Solution Validation– Not just a Solution, “Your” Solution.

With problem validation, you’re simply proving that there is a problem in the market. With solution validation, you’re proving that the market doesn’t just want any solution to that problem; they want your solution to that problem. This is where user experience comes in full force.

Validating whether your product is a compelling solution to users’ needs is where Product Management and User Experience converge. Product Managers are not UX Designers and UX Designers are not Product Managers. But there is significant overlap and critical UX responsibilities that Product Managers have.

In part 2, we’ll cover the 5 specific UX responsibilities a Product Manager has when creating new products.


Tweet this:  The UX responsibilities of a Product Manager – Part 1 by @gjschroeder http://wp.me/pXBON-4dn #prodmgmt #ux #innovation

About the Author

gary-schroeder-bwGary Schroeder (@gjschroeder) has been helping companies deliver world-class products for over 8 years.  Currently he is Associate Product Manager at Accruent and writes about Growth Hacking, Product Management, Innovation, and Design at GarySchroeder.me.