The PB&J of UX and Product

Amanda Varney

Senior UX Test Analyst, Xenial

This post was originally published on ProductCraft by Pendo.

You’ve got a new feature that you’re excited to start working on. Not only are you motivated by how cool this feature will be, but you also need to build it ASAP. It would be nice to take some time on it and get feedback from the UX team, but given how fast it needs to move, there’s no real time for that. Also, the budget is tight, and you’ve pushed similar products out before, so you’re sure that the client will love it! Right?

Well … maybe not. Forgoing connection with the UX team and not checking in with users can actually cause you more pain and expense in the long run.

At this point in the tech world, it goes without saying that UX is a crucial part of the process. Even with the best intentions, however, it sometimes gets left out in favor or time and budget. The reality is, it should be considered as a must-have rather than a luxurious exception when the perfect combination of time and money line up (hint: that never happens). Finding areas in your workflow where your UX team can plug in will make your product better — and by extension, promote happier users and a better bottom line for the business.

How UX Can Help

Your UX team can offer game-changing insights and valuable feedback in a number of areas, saving you time and money. Don’t forget — UX design goes beyond making things look pretty. As Don Norman says, “It’s a way of thinking. Of determining peoples true underlying needs and then delivering products and services to help them.” The experience is what users tend to notice first, and it’s what drives your audience’s impression of your company. Now that we are well into the tech revolution, products must be functional and efficient. Expectations are in the stratosphere because there are so many choices. People expect things to work seamlessly, but once those non-negotiables are met, good UX is what keeps them coming back.

Here are just a few of the reasons why a great partnership between product and UX can provide the best outcomes for your product and your business.

User Experience = Everything

Any time people interact with your product, that is their user experience. Users will always have some kind of experience, whether you have an intentional version or not. You definitely want to steer that ship! Your intentions are not always how something will come across to users, and you don’t want to limit your product with poor usability. 

Outcomes Over Outputs

Product managers are sometimes in danger of focusing on outputs rather than outcomes. Luckily, UX can help PMs figure out the purpose of what they’re building. Without that reminder, it’s easy to get caught up in the build cycle, where products and features get abstracted out into tickets and deadlines. The UX team can provide clarity and drill down to the real problem you are trying to address. Not solely the feature itself, which is very important, but the benefit of said feature. What do the users actually need?

Avoiding Rework

It’s much cheaper to include UX in the initial build phase than it is to do dev rework later on. Its also much harder to convince stakeholders and dev teams to go back and change things after the fact, so often it gets left by the wayside. And that will definitely hinder your product’s full potential. Avoiding proper design methodology usually leads to higher support costs and a decrease in speed of service, not to mention adoption. UX teams are here to help you see the holistic view of the product and how the intended audience will receive it so that you build the right and most useful versions of things.

The Best of the Best

Multilateral communication will ensure your products are the best they can be. Creating features and products should not be a relay race where product lays out what needs to be made, hands off the baton to design, who then gives it to the devs, etc. Then it gets QAed, and poof! It’s out the door and in the hands of your adoring customers. That’s a dangerous game of telephone. In the end, the result may look and feel nothing like the original intention. Check in with UX along the way to ensure you’re on the right track.

Qual + Quant

Listen to the data! You aren’t asking your users to prove you right. UX teams use a mix of quantitative and qualitative data to put together a clear picture of what really serves the users, and what doesn’t. They understand that even educated guesses are just assumptions until they are tested. In product, it’s supremely useful to see how people experience your product. Users need your empathy, not your opinion. If they run into issues, it needs a closer look. Don’t assume that since your users are smart, they will figure it out. Also, remember that you aren’t the user — they will not have all of the contextual awareness that you do.

A Perfect Partnership

Your UX team is here to help guide you, so tap into that expertise! They are trained to never forget the human aspect of the product. Great things happen when product people think about and empathize with issues that users may go through, and what their brains might be doing. That’s UX’s bread and butter! They have tools in their arsenal to help provide clarity and insight on users so you can focus on the 100 things that product has going on each day.

Keep in mind that your intentions are not always how something will come across to users. Even if you are sure they will love a feature, get the UX team involved to ensure all bases are covered. Product undoubtedly plays a major role in how people experience your product, but your UX team are the experts on the other side of the coin. Listen to their insights, especially early and often, and the sky’s the limit for the things you build.  You wanted to put products and features into the world for a reason … people will use them! Product and UX are the dream team, and with your powers combined, you’ll be unstoppable.

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