I was recently asked how, as a Product Manager, I would approach testing and validating the selection of a new feature for a product, without committing any development resources to it.
It was an interesting question, and within the scope and context of the interview, I was a bit stumped. “Isn’t that the point of building it and staging it?” I thought? But I needed the PM hat on, which meant balancing resources efficiently.
The conversation inevitably took a turn into talking about wireframing tools: is Axure more powerful than Balsamiq? Is Powerpoint good enough or do we need to dive into Photoshop? In short, the assumption was made that a wireframe was the best validation tool.
But no. I wasn’t satisfied with that. No way. My first instinct would always be: “let’s build the damn thing”. And to be frank, I’m a pretty good UX designer and frontend developer myself, so if I was pushing a new feature as a PM, I would definitely build it first.
And hell, I have. At my last company, I used CodePen all the time to demonstrate a concept to someone. I built entire landing pages on it, whipped together proofs-of-concepts for the Devs to understand what I meant. This allowed them to understand the interaction that the user had with the UI, and allowed them to enjoy the UX a lot more than if they had a wireframe or high-fidelity mockup to work off.
In short, I need a UX staging environment, and a web-based HTML/CSS/JS editor with instant preview and sharing ability allowed for just that. It worked wonders. I know the dev guys probably appreciated it a lot more than a feature breakdown and me trying to describe an interaction or transition over a Skype call.
Maybe I’m rehashing an idea that’s been tossed around a million times before, but I’m beginning to think that a portfolio on an app like CodePen may become a very important tool in a UX designer’s arsenal, and very useful for Product Managers everywhere.