In the previous post (Decision making process in the team – Part 1), I talked about some of the issues in the team where there can be conflict between the opinions of the experience designer and the product manager and trying to separate their responsibilities. The post started out by outlying some of these areas, and will talk more about these conflicts that happen in these sort of discussions.
Consider the case where there are proposed new features in the product that have a lot of user interfacing parts. You know the type, where the user is shown a lot of information (as compared to complexity features where there is a lot of processing behind the scenes, and the user normally initiates a process and then see a result after some background processing). For such a feature, it is very important that the user interface be as usable as possible, else users will not really appreciate the feature and could cause failure of the product as well. So, the sequence of activities is such that the product manager defines the requirements, and sometimes those cold be in a lot of detail. The experience designer then needs to convert those into a user interface that is typically reviewed by the team (including the Product Manager).
And this is where it gets tricky. A lot of experience designers that I have known tend to know that they are better than the rest of the team in defining user interfaces, and this can make them more resistant to change. There is a clear ownership of the user interface with the experience designer, but the team has a great deal of opinion in such design and it is best if the experience designer has those discussions with the team and ensures that everyone is brought into the opinion. However, when the product manager feels that the user interface is not really meeting the requirements as defined by the product manager, that is when it gets tricky.
This is something that needs more review from the managers of the team. If the user experience is deviating from the product functional requirements, then this needs to be conveyed to the experience designer and the relevant changes need to be made in the experience design. It is at these points that the decision making and role of each function needs to be crystal clear, else there will be a lot of bad blood in the interactions between the managers, the experience designer and the product manager. In a specific case where the experience designer had got stuck up with his design, and refused to listen even where it was clear that a requirement was not being met in the way that the product manager had laid out, the senior manager of the group needed to got involved; and this was a letdown for everybody involved, since involving the senior manager for something that could have been resolved at the team level was not something that people really wanted to happen. Further, it made dealings with the experience designer more tricky for the future.
Contd in part 3 ..