2 Critical Questions for any Product Development Cycle

Image Source: http://blog.uxeria.com/en/top-50-ux-design-memes-on-the-internet/

As a product manager, brainstorming with the UX design team and the developers to design user journeys and prototypes is one of the most enjoyable part of the product development process. The views, counter-views and the subjectivity of the design thinking process really gets the creative juices flowing.. I have always believed that a product manager needs to have good design sensibilities and having worked with some very good UX engineers and designers, I have learnt a lot about design and user experience. So I though of sharing some of those ideas with you.

Design should not only be useful but should be usable

This may seem really abstract but there are various examples in applications where an identical information can be presented in a way which is much more usable and engaging to the clients. The usability issue is much more complicated in financial applications because there are so many numbers and figures for any decision making. Let me illustrate this with a few examples:

Let’s say as an investor you are checking your portfolio or your watchlist and want to assess which of the stocks in your list is currently near its yearly high or low. Perhaps you wish to take a decision based on that. Shown below are two representations of the same information for the same set of stocks.

Looking at these, it is pretty evident that it is much easier to identify the current value vis-a-vis the 52 week range in exhibit A. Also note that a typical portfolio or a watchlist would have many more assets than just the 4 shown above and hence without some sort of a graphical representation, the user would find it extremely challenging to analyse the same information. Human brain is just not very good at seeing a large set of numbers and observing trends/patterns and hence charts are greatly helpful here and in many other cases.

The above representations are from two prominent financial mobile apps and it pretty evident that while the information presented in both are identical and useful, the design in example A makes the information much more usable.

Every design element should have a purpose

This may seem very fundamental but it is too common to come across product increments/developments where a lot of time and money is spent without a good-enough answer to the question “What is the purpose of the (updated) design” . So, if you are a product manager assessing an updated design, ask this question and assess how does this affect the organization’s bottomline. The purpose may be a very tangible one like increasing the likelihood of the user accessing a call to action or an intangible one like helping to build a brand connect. Whether tangible or intangible, it is important to ascertain that the product update impacts either the revenue or the cost metric.

So, whether you are an internal/B2B / B2C product manager, always ask the below questions for any product development/increment and make sure you are happy and satisfied with the response:

While the information presented is useful, is it usable?
What is the key goal/purpose for the design?

Happy Product Building!