You’ve probably heard that product and design are closely related. But what does this mean? Is it true that product managers, designers, and engineers all work together to create great products? Or is the relationship between these three roles more complicated than that? In this article we'll explore the ways in which product managers and designers collaborate with engineers on their teams – and how they can do better by understanding each other's unique roles.
Product and design are not the same thing, but they’re very closely related.
So, let’s start with the basics: product design is not the same as product development. You might be tempted to think that they are synonymous since they both involve creating something new, but there’s a key difference between them. Product design refers to how you want something to look or function and comes after you decide on what it will do (let’s say, for example, that you want to create a new feature phone). This process involves creating all of your sketches and models before manufacturing begins so that your team has a clear idea of what they need to build. Engineering then takes those designs and figures out how they can build them in order for them to work as intended—this part of the process is often referred to as "product validation." Once this step has been completed successfully by both sides working together closely enough during their respective stages (i.e., design vs engineering), then it's time for manufacturing!
Design has many roles, but one of them is to engage with users in order to get to know their needs and desires.
Design is not just about making something beautiful. It's also about understanding users and their needs, desires, problems, goals, behaviors, and motivations. Designers figure out what people want by talking with them: asking questions and listening to their answers. Designers will use this information to inform how they design their product or service.
The end result of this process is that you get something that's tailored specifically for your users—and the result is a user experience (UX) that feels natural because it has been designed from the ground up in response to your needs as a user (or potential user).
Design teams do research and create prototypes to figure out what users really want.
Designers are the people who create a product's look and feel. They research user needs, create prototypes, test with users, and iterate on prototypes.
Designers aren't the same as product managers or engineers. Designers are also not project managers; they don't manage projects. Instead of managing timelines and budgets, designers focus on creating an experience for a customer that is enjoyable and intuitive to use.
You can think of designers as the ones who make sure your app looks good!
Product managers translate user needs into product requirements and make sure everyone is on the same page about business objectives, product needs, timelines, and so on.
As a product manager, you're the go-between between design and engineering. You translate user needs into product requirements and make sure everyone is on the same page about business objectives, product needs, timelines, and so on.
Product managers are also go-betweens for engineering and business objectives; they have to understand what's important from both perspectives in order to be effective—and that can be challenging!
If you're supporting a larger team (e.g., UX designers), this role becomes even more important because there are more people involved in decisions that affect your work.
Engineers build products that meet the product manager's requirements while optimizing for performance, cost, scalability, reliability, and other factors.
- Engineers build products that meet the product manager's requirements while optimizing for performance, cost, scalability, reliability, and other factors.
- They must make tradeoffs between these factors in order to create the most valuable product possible.
- The more time an engineer spends on a feature or bugfix (“work”), the less time they have to work on other features or bugs.
Product managers are the go-between for design, engineering, and business objectives
As the go-between for design, engineering, and business objectives, product managers are responsible for product vision, strategy, and roadmap. They are also responsible for product requirements definition and release management.
Product managers are the go-between for design, engineering, and business objectives. They translate the needs of users into product requirements that engineers can build into products. The product manager must understand the user experience so well that they can bring together all of these different perspectives and make sure everyone is on the same page.