The UX Manifesto v1

Very often, I think people do not understand what I mean by User Experience (UX).  They think its paint that goes on AFTER a product has been defined and possibly built.  Maybe it is deciding where the button goes.  I think UX is different.  UX is about looking at the world through special eyes.  Eyes that see how people react to all kinds of circumstances.

My blog, for a little while now, has been about The UX of ________.  I look at the world through the UX lens.  How was this thing conceived and implemented?  How do people interact with it?  Do they like it?  Is it easy? Fun? Profitable? Awesome? Annoying?

Recently, I have been promoted to head Product Management.  This makes me think more deeply about product management and how it fits into my world view.  I believe this graphic helps describe my feeling on it.

UX Umbrella

Some people think product management is much more than what I have described above. In another post Luke Hohmann, was kind enough to provide a list of things that a product manager sometimes does:

  1. market segmentation, sizing, and needs assessment
  2. business model development
  3. value analysis
  4. value exchange models
  5. pricing models
  6. licensing models
  7. rights enforcement models
  8. profit engines
  9. customer facing ROI / TCO analysis
  10. channel design and management
  11. technology in-licensing negotiation
  12. deployment architecture choices
  13. BOM development and materials handling
  14. identification and management of releases

I look at this list and think, “Wait a minute.  Where does it say, ‘Figure out what the thing is supposed to do’.”

Maybe I am a technology hick.  I’ve never been trained in that fancy stuff.  However, I have seen my fair share of technology startups.  Some of them had great research up front.  Some of them, not so much.  None of it made a beans worth of difference to my one fundamental question about products.

“Is it insanely great?”

In my world view, UX should be responsible for making insanely great designs of products.  This includes what problems the thing is supposed to solve.  Engineering is responsible to turn those designs into real world products.  Marketing and Sales play their part in the selling of those products.  UX is supposed to have the great ideas.  Graphic Design, UI, IA, and Product Management all play their part to develop, document, describe and design (aliteration) these ideas so that they can become real.

It makes sense to me that UX is an umbrella over product management and not the other way around.  By having the UX lens at the top, a company is stating, “We want these products to be so good that people refuse to work without them.”  By putting it the other way, they are saying, “We want lots of documentation!”

Leadership matters.  Vision matters.  I believe that in my core.  UX as a primary role in a company will create massive success and profit.  I certainly will be trying to prove that in the coming year.

First, I need to hire a product manager and get them to work!

5 Replies to “The UX Manifesto v1”

  1. I agree with you and Luke: providing customers what they want should be built into products. One good way of assuring that it is, involves using market segmentation to learn what the target market for the product want, need, will value and buy.

    Too many small business owners think of marketing as something they do to sell a product after it is completed, but market segmentation provides the information that they need to create products that they can be assured will sell.

  2. One note: I have seen many products do the up front segmentation and it turned out (in hindsight) that their research and conclusions did not pan out. It’s a like a business plan. The first year says we will make a jillion dollars. How many companies live up their business plan? None? Same goes for product documentation, they all exaggerate.

  3. Glen,

    In my experience of having managed multiple SaaS products and some very vocal enterprise customers amongst the 3000+ that used my products, here is what I have realized about UX for a SaaS product line,

    1) Increases revenue: A good UX increases the adoption of the product
    2) Reduces cost: Number of service calls/tickets is directly related to the UX of that particular feature
    3) Get it right the first time: If you don’t get it (UX) right the first time, it is expensive to change it (even with a SaaS product)
    4) Use experts: Trust a UI / Design expert when it comes to UX, but verify it (Beta testers, user panel, usage metrics, etc…)

    As a PM, one should be able to manage the product in entirety without getting bogged down by any single constraint (even UX), and to quote Donald Norman slightly differently, “PM should enforce the successive application of constraints until only a unique product is left”

    Best,
    Rajeev

  4. Rajeev,

    #3 is very hard. especially when you are hired and take over a new product. We need to evangelize ways to make it better, even when you start off in a bad place.

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