Design Chit-Chat
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Design Chit-Chat

How non-designer Product Design Manager can look smarter by improving these things

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

Non-designer Product Design Managers need to improve the way you communicate with designers. When you try hard to look as if you understand design, you just confuse the designers. Some things that I’ve heard from non-designer Product Design Manager, and how you can improve (so you can look smarter):

  1. “Make the design pops.” This one is classic. Design taste is subjective, what pops to you might be ugly to me, whatever pops means to you. Instead of making it pops, you can take a step and ask “Who are our users?” and “What kind of product/brand personality do we want to convey to those users?” Shifting the focus to the users help the conversation to be more objective, and then you can ask a follow-up question “What does good design mean to these users?” “What do they think about design that pops?”
  2. “Too much white space.” Imagine things inside your house, where everything is close to each other with limited space (or no space at all) for you to walk. Similar to physical space, interface needs a room to breath as well. It helps the users to see relationship between function/content on the screen, and in many case, it helps the users to get to what they want quickly. You can ask better question, like “What’s the focus of this screen?” “What do we want to drive users to?”
  3. “Let’s do an A/B test with your design and our suggestion through a focus group.” First of all, A/B test is quantitative method, and focus group is qualititave. You can google more about the difference, I don’t have enough time to explain in my 10-min blog post. And also, you don’t do A/B test of visual design, asking people “Which design do you like?” Visual design needs to convey your brand personality. If you don’t have brand personality, work on that first. If you already have one, empower your designer or marketing team to decide on the visual direction.
  4. “My grandma needs to be able to use this.” Well, you contradict yourself when you say we need to be user-centric. When you say user-centric, you design for specific user. Is your grandma the target user of this product? If not, then don’t ask her to test the product. My granda (if she were alive) would have been almost 100-year-old. If I were to ask her to book a taxi using some popular ride-hailing app, I’m sure she’s gonna be 110% confused. My 10-year-old son, on the other hand, can book a ride easily using the app.
  5. “Can you design a banner, help making my deck prettier, etc?” Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. It’s good that you acknowledge our skill in making things pretty, but you could benefit more from Product Designer. You should ask them to get insights that might drive innovations through user research. They can help you to come up with better requirements through facilitating Design Sprint workshop for example. They can facilitate ideation by understanding problems first and exploring many solutions through rapid prototyping. They can help you to come up with product that matters to the users and contributes greatly to the business.
  6. “It needs to be 3 clicks or less.” Just google three clicks myth. You can read The 3-Click Rule for Navigation Is False or 3 clicks myth.

Short reminder for the managers, please learn and read more about design, on top of improving those things above. That’s all for my 15min post.




Design, Leadership, and Innovation.

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Borrys Hasian

Borrys Hasian

🇮🇩 Product Designer. Expert in Design Sprint. Designed successful & award-winning apps used by millions of people. Head of Design & Research at ALAMI.

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