5 Things Product Managers Need to Know About Design

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There is a common misconception about product managers, that the only thing they need to master is coding and other tech skills to be successful. Even though there is some accuracy in this, the truth is that the best product managers excel at several things and skills. One of the most important of these skills and responsibilities as explained by Codrin Arsene at Digital Authority is UX in design.

One of the biggest responsibilities of a product manager is to ensure that the user experience of the product they manage is on point. Oftentimes, the user experience of a product is achieved through the visual interface of the product in question, that is, its design.

UX and product management are practically inseparable as the two share the same objective, which is to understand the needs of the users so that excellent experiences designed to solve those needs can be created. UX and product management are also seriously focused on constant product innovation with the customer in mind.

But design, much like coding, is a specialized skill that takes time to master. As a product manager, it can be extremely daunting to learn design especially if you are not talented or passionate about it. So what’s a product manager to do?

Here are 5 things all product managers need to know about design

Color is important

The power of color in product design cannot be underestimated. The use of color can influence behavior and provoke feelings and desires in users. As such, it is one of the most important components of product design. Color affects different aspects of design including branding.

Colors and brand strategy go hand in hand. A brand tells the story of how a company came into being and why it is in existence. A brand is much more than a logo; it is a reflection of the company’s values and color helps to communicate that. On a practical basis, when a product manager has an awareness of the impact of color, it can then help one make informed decisions.

Design hierarchy and typography go hand in hand

In typography, hierarchy is what helps users scan a page of an app or website properly. Look at any news article on a website and its hierarchy will be immediately apparent as it will be woven into the design of the product. In most instances, the headline comes first, then the subheader followed by the text of the article which usually beats a font size smaller than all the elements above it.

That’s how the hierarchy works in typography and it matters more than product managers realize. It is the hierarchy that helps users read better so that they can make an informed decision. Hierarchy, when done right, lets users know them and what they need.

It is important to minimize cognitive load as much as possible

All the best product manager courses on CoolThingsChicago will tell you that minimizing cognitive load is one element of design that can improve conversions. Product managers should know that a simple design that makes the process stress-free for the user is one of the most critical things for the success of a product

Human beings, just like software, have a limited amount of processing power. When there is cognitive load in one’s design, the performance of a product suffers. That’s because it will often take users longer to process the information presented and it is a lot easier to miss important details.

When something has too much cognitive load, it can easily overwhelm the user. Any design that is put out into the world must:

  • Always have a focal point that lets users know where to start.
  • Include Certain buttons that have been given a higher degree of importance so that the user knows which one carries more weight in their process or user experience.
  • Avoid clutter such as irrelevant images and links as well as typography that slows down the user.

Balance

The most effective designs are balanced which is vital especially when you have multiple components on one page. Finding the right balance between these elements can sometimes be a challenge but it is important to get it right to make it easy for users to process information at a glance.

A balanced design naturally feels stable and aesthetically pleasing. While some components may be designed to provide focal focus and attract the user’s eye, no one area of the design should draw the user’s attention so much that other areas are neglected. An unbalanced design, on the other hand, can lead to tension and even affect the message that the product is trying to communicate.

Usability comes before anything else

The most essential thing that many product managers forget is that usability comes before everything else. That’s because the user or client should always be the central focus of design; always. Sometimes product managers and designers focus all too much on the cleverness of design or how modern and cool it looks rather than researching what the user would find appealing.

Usability as is evident from the name itself refers to the degree of ease and satisfaction that a user gets when she or he uses the product in question for a specific task or objective. When a product has a high degree of usability, it implies that the user will like it, which means that there are higher chances of the product selling and succeeding.

Whether one is dealing with a product, website, or even something as simple as a registration form, the usability of the design should be one of the most critical components that designers and product managers focus on. Throughout the design process, it is the job of both designers and their managers to test usability so that the users’ expectations are not only met but also ensure that the product meets the real-world expectations of real buyers.

Final Thoughts

The design has become more and more of a precedence in the success of a product and it can be an organization’s secret weapon when they need to stand out in a marketplace full of competitors.

I started my journey as a Photoshop & HTML designer, my hunger takes me to the next step for PHP, Java, angular, CMS, Python, etc. Till now, I have worked on many software, mobile, web development & design projects. I want to inspire others, that's the only reason I am here to share my experience & knowledge. Let's connect on LinkedIn.