Julie Zhuo

Julie Zhuo



How PMs push back against designers: "That's not the priority right now" "We don't have the eng resources for that" "This design is not going to work" "The data shows that metrics dropped with this design change" Here's how you can respond 👇 (1/10)

"That's not the priority right now" or "We don't have the eng resources for that" => usually a response to a proposal that: 1) doesn't directly tackle the team's specified problem (though may tackle a real, different problem) OR 2) addresses the problem but is too ambitious

The key to debating whether a project is off-topic or not is to focus the convo on priority: 1) "Here's why solving this is more important than doing X..." 2) "Solving this is actually a dependency for X..." 3) "Solving this accelerates our future plans..." 3/10

To address a proposal being "too ambitious": 1) Show a range of design proposals, from low to high investment. Explain the difference. Consider user-testing. You *must* do the work here to be convincing. 2) Break it down into smaller launch milestones--easier to digest. 4/10

"This design is not going to work" => said when someone feels skepticism about what they see. Always ask "why do you think that?" and hear them out. Avoid playing the "I am the designer so I know best" card. Address the concerns directly. 5/10

Once everyone's concerns have been heard but the disagreement remains, draw out the differing assumptions for why you think it will work but your partner does not. "You're assuming readers will understand X and I'm assuming they won't." Then suggest actions to validate. 6/10

Things you can say to resolve a design disagreement and move forward: 1) "Let's escalate to the director/vp/ceo 2) "Let's show this design to X users and get their take" 3) "Let's build both and A/B test them" 4) "This decision isn't important, so happy to defer" 7/10

"The data shows that metrics dropped with this design change" => said when someone feels skepticism about design and considers this proof the design did not work. The design may indeed not have worked, but if you truly feel the design was better, you need to dig further. 8/10

Make sure you are convinced by some reason why it did not work. Otherwise, the team learns nothing: 1) "Do you have a hypothesis for why it didn't work?" Suggest speaking with users if not. 2) "What metrics were down? Could the change be good but the metrics not capture it?"

I can't count the number of times designers have told me they struggle in debating with PMs b/c it's incredibly draining. This is because PMs are usually a) articulate b) decisive c) present what seems like convincing data. But don't make this about the PM. What can you do?

As Jeff Bezos said: "“You do need the data, but then you need to check that data with your intuition and your instincts.” Every discipline has strengths. Designers, you have killer instincts for customer problems and solutions. Speak up about it. You *can* debate effectively.

(I will also do a future thread on how PMs can push back against designers :)

Update: the flip side of this, how PMs can push back against designers:

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