Place of UX in Product Development

Contrary to popular belief a product manager spends most of his or her time identifying problems not shaping up solutions. We kind of expect solutions to magically appear in front of us through hard word of engineers and other experts, while we only provide feedback whether the solution match the problem or needs further refinement. While in most organizations engineers are strong enough to resist meddling of product managers in technical implementations, UX designers are much less successful at defending their profession from "UX expertize" of product managers and engineers. Over the past months I've noticed that I spend way too much time quarreling with other product stakeholders about the user interface and overall user experience of the features we were implementing. I'm not an expert in UX design myself and neither is any of the other product stakeholders in our company, so us quarreling was entirely counterproductive and based on opinions not on actual data.

In my experience all roles that needs to be performed in a company are performed by somebody. If the responsibility and authority to perform a particular role is not given explicitly, it will be seized by someone implicitly. Unfortunately it's rarely the case that the person implicitly taking over the role has the capacity to perform the role successfully. What's even worse, quite often the person performing the role doesn't even realize that he or she is performing the role which precludes him or her to actively improve his or her performance. That's why I think that once a need for a particular role is established somebody must be explicitly authorized to perform that role and enabled with tools and support to be successful at it.

Reflecting back on us quarreling about UX design I can clearly see that the role of UX designer was needed in our company and that several incompetent people were trying to simultaneously fill the void. To resolve the situation we have now explicitly defined the person responsible for performing the role of UX designer at Zemanta. I have high hopes for him!