How can product owners better support designers?

over 3 years ago from , founder | product design

What are some constructive ways product owners can improve the work experience for designers, thereby impacting the quality of work?


  • Guilherme Simoes, over 3 years ago

    As a designer I've been working with Product owners for a good amount of years now. I'd say, from my perspective, that it boils down to 3 things:

    • Work process
    • Regular communication
    • Documentation

    Work process is pretty much understanding how each other's daily routines look like, what are the team goals and how we optimise our relationship so we have the right expectations and hopefully build empathy from one another

    Regular communication is key for getting work done and to reduce noise. If you work at a physical office, try to sit next to your PO. That helps to understand their daily activities and speed up your feedback loop. If you work remotely sharing everything is key, and regular catch-up calls are appreciated.

    Documentation is something most companies don't do well. Either pre-project (project briefs) or post-project (learnings and next-steps), documentation can help you not only to be on the same page as POs but also record the learnings and decisions for posterity. In today's fast paced, A/B test driven companies, documentation is highly underrated and I truly believe that building good documentation together is a powerful tool for the PO/designer relationship and also for knowledge sharing.

    I think the support part mostly comes from empathy and clear understanding of each other's processes. Enabling designers with the right information at the right time is something POs can do better than anyone.

    I'm curious to see other people's responses to this very good question.

    5 points
    • Mauricio Paim, over 3 years ago

      Que aula ein Gulherme. :)

      Agreed, as a product designer working with 4 different teams with their own PO's, communication is key, having a place where we share, ask feedback and discuss decisions virtually is super important.

      In my case Figma is where I discuss design: visual as well as behaviour.

      A weekly email to all PO's asking if there were updates, changes on priorities and doing a quick sync on work evolution. Like a stand-up meeting, but works for remote too.

      Great question to ask :)

      1 point
    • Jerry TJerry T, over 3 years ago

      Solid answer. kudos sir.

      0 points
  • Kyle Greely, over 3 years ago

    Guilherme's comment is a good one. I'd just like to add: standing up for your designers, particularly in client calls/meetings. Can't tell you the number of times I've been all-but-thrown-under-the-bus in front of the client. Backing up your designer's design decisions (his/her area of expertise, after all) is really important, both for how the company looks and for your professional relationship. I automatically give 2x respect points to POs or PMs who champion design alongside me.

    3 points
    • Alison Bustos, over 3 years ago

      Definitely agree. Trusting your designer is the real deal here. I've experienced the same problem many times and I can surely say that it doesn't create a good impression.

      0 points
  • Fernando Lins, over 3 years ago

    Guilherme's and Kyle's comments pretty much cover it all. The two main issues I've had with POs in the past were not being backed up - they would promise things to clients that had not been planned, or had not been designed to work some way they wanted - and lack of documentation. On most teams I ended up making all of the documentation.

    1 point