Facebook AR/VR Lead on Effective Product Design (Part 2)

One of the biggest hurdles that product managers face in understanding product design is looking past the finished product. In other words, the complete design process is an unknown for many product managers. To truly understand how product designers work, it’s critical to appreciate the overall design process instead of the final design. I like to reference this quote from John Maeda – one of the leading product designers in the world.

“Design is more often a verb than it is a noun. It is more often about doing…than it is about being done.”

The best way to fully understand product design is to focus on the function as a verb (process), rather than simply as a noun (final deliverables). Specifically, the design process alternates between periods of generating ideas and making decisions. For example, the idea phase involves a great deal of exploration and investigation. On the other hand, the decisionmaking phase focuses on prioritization and refinement.

For product designers, it’s often very difficult to get from the ideation phase to the decisionmaking phase. The biggest reason why is the simple fact that product designers are never satisfied. Simply put, they will iterate on every design until it’s absolutely perfect. As a result, the product design process can be confusing and difficult to manage for product managers.

Ultimately, the best way to keep product designers on track is to get a specific design to the point where it is “done enough.” There’s no way for any design to be completely finished or complete – and while designers can just keep going, there’s an equation that can help in keeping projects on track.

D(V) + T = D(N)

In this equation, “D” represents design and “T” represents time. Getting back to John Maeda’s quote, the “V” represents design as a verb and the “N” represents design as a noun. When looking at the complete product design process, budgeting enough time to let final designs come together will ensure that your design deliverables are up to par. In the end, designers and product managers need to work across both variables to produce the best results for their customers.


Click here for Part 1

About the speaker
Jon Lax Facebook, Director Product Design Member

Jon Lax is the Head of AR/VR Design at Facebook - working on developing interactive experiences within the platform. Prior to joining Facebook, Jon co-founded Teehan+Lax - a digital product agency in Toronto. Jon is a graduate of the University of King's College and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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