In part 1 and part 2 of this series, I explored synergies that exist between product development and user experience design as well as how the two fields fail to leverage those synergies in the product development process. In this part, I explain what product development and user experience teams can do to collaborate effectively.
What Can Product Developers and User Experience Designers Do Better
The instances where product developers and user experience designers collaborate poorly can be easily ameliorated. Overall, this means incorporating a more dynamic and integrated product development process where both teams work together on key phases and in shorter and more frequent cycles rather than long, inflexible phases. The particular steps that need to be taken to accomplish a more integrated process are outlined below.
- Both teams should utilize an iterative and dynamic product design process instead of rigid, linear approach.
- Both user experience designers and product developers should be involved in identifying opportunities, competitive analysis, market and user research, feature design, design refinement, implementation.
- Product developers should not seek to define how each feature should work, but should rather define the broader project goals and product requirements.
- User experience designers should stick to constraints defined by product developers, should consider the viability of their design in the context of implementation and marketability, and should consult with product developers on viability of features.
- Both the user experience and product development teams should garner more frequent feedback from each other.
- Treat the specifications documents and user experience design collateral as living documents.
Iterative and Dynamic Process
The most important optimizations to the product design process is incorporating shorter and more frequent product development cycles as well as involving each team in key phases. Although one team may take the lead in a particular phase, both teams should be involved in tasks that can benefit from both sets of expertise.