UserTesting fmr Product VP on User-Centric Design (Part 3)
Many times, I see companies struggling to implement user-centric design into product. When your overall process is a design process, it becomes inherently integrated. Here, specific design skills and strategies will help you move forward.
For example, at UserTesting we wanted to figure out how to articulate our product vision over the next 3-5 years. The current vision was hard to latch onto for people to march in the same direction. A collaborative, multidisciplinary approach let me tease out a compelling story from leadership and product teams. We involved 50-60 people in the process to come up with a new, innovative product strategy.
Agile Vs. Design.
Agile methodology alone may not work well with design thinking since agile focuses on small incremental pieces. Agile can be used downstream, but initial steps must be more high level, holistic and design skill-centric. You can break it down later, but include a designer from the beginning to avoid frustration.
Designers need to be good at facilitating complex groups of multidisciplinary teams. You also need the ability to make sense of complex ideas. A great designer takes complicated things, makes them simple and visualizes them.
There’s a natural tension between PMs who want to move fast vs. designers who need more time. A lot of friction arises due to a lack of empathy on both sides for each other. It’s a good idea to spend time understanding constraints and goals on both sides of the fence.
High-level design skills include being able to find solutions given a set of constraints which vary depending on the context. Then the concerns of one group become concerns of the entire organization.
One way to achieve this harmony is to assign everyone the same goal. It could be shipping a product, increasing sign-ups or hitting a revenue target. It’s not that design only has to finish a prototype feature and marketing only has to generate leads. Instead, everybody focuses on one problem together.
A lot of incorporating design into a company has to do with hiring, so you want to find a good fit. You may need some design skills coaching, or you can implement hands-on workshops. Also, let people share what they do in their area. They can sit in on presentations, stakeholder meetings, customer interviews, etc. Designers should know that business goals are their goals too.
Teams that value design will invest in user-centric design. Where are you spending your money? How many designers are on staff and what’s their seniority? Ratios are only part of the story. There should be design representation at the senior level to make a real impact.
About the speaker
Chris Abad is the former Product VP at UserTesting - responsible for driving the company’s product vision and strategy across its portfolio of products. He has more than 15 years of experience building high-performance product and design teams. Prior to joining UserTesting, Chris held leadership roles at companies including Salesforce, InVision, Campaign Monitor - and served as founder of two start-ups. Chris holds a degree from San Diego State University and currently lives in San Francisco.