Julie Zhuo

Julie Zhuo



How designers push back against PMs: 1) Moving metrics is not the point; actually solving problems is 2) Let's not just throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks 3) Why don't we innovate instead of copying? 4) Don't you care about quality? ...and how PMs can respond 👇

"Moving metrics is not the point" -> said when the designer feels (or fears) something tests well against goal metrics but is actually a bad user experience. Root causes: a) goal metrics don't capture what's bad b) for most people it's fine, but for some folks it's bad 2/14

Don't argue about whether moving metrics is the point; instead, focus on user concerns.: 1) What's the bad user experience you are worried about? 2) Which/how many people are you concerned it will affect? 3) What evidence would convince you the problem is or isn't bad? 3/14

A productive conversation about metrics + UX creates alignment on: a) whether the goal metrics capture the spirit of the team's efforts to further the organization's mission b) whether the user tradeoffs are intentional (ex: are we prioritizing new users over power users?) 4/14

"Let's not just throw spaghetti at the wall" -> said when designer feels: a) skeptical that the suggested product ideas will work b) the list of 'to be built' features is too long and prioritization is unclear c) they don't understand what the bigger goal is 5/14

The key to creating alignment on the next set of roadmap items is to align on a clear strategy, which details: a) who is our customer? b) what problems do they have? c) which ones are we solving? Why? d) which solutions are most promising? Why? e) how should we prioritize? 6/14

Acknowledge there is no certainty in product development, which means some assumptions about the above may be wrong, and different people may disagree. That is fine! As long as we continually share the same high-level map, it's okay to fail and backtrack sometimes. 7/14

"Why don't we innovate instead of copying?" -> said when the designer feels: a) we may not be solving things in the best way because we are shortcutting exploration to what's been done already b) that their role should be to innovate, and 'fast-following' is not rewarding 8/14

The key to getting out of the 'innovation versus copy' debate is to focus the conversation back to: 1) What problems are we trying to solve for which people? 2) What strengths do we have in solving that problem? 9/14

'Innovation' is not an end, it is a means to an end. You do need to do *some* things uniquely in order to solve problems better than the status quo for your audience. You don't need to do *everything* uniquely. Otherwise you will waste much time reinventing wheels. 10/14

"Don't you care about quality?" -> said when the designer feels there is an incorrect tradeoff between prioritizing user experience and other things, usually: a) various metrics (growth, revenue, etc) b) speed to shipping the feature c) approval from a decision-maker 11/14

The key to debates about 'quality' is to align on the definition and prioritization with real examples: 1) where would you draw the line on improvements before shipping? Why? 2) Which quality issues feel like deal-breakers? Why? 3) What don't our metrics measure well? 12/14

There's general agreement that a confusing flow is a bigger problem than a misaligned button. But should we delay launch for the above? It depends: what's bad about delaying launch? What's bad about shipping with these issues? Real examples let you extract principles. 13/14

In conclusion, the fastest way to create alignment with designers is to encourage everyone to speak the common language of users. Reduce PM shorthands (metrics, ship date, P0s/P1s) and designer shorthands (quality, innovation, consistency). Focus on people problems + solutions.

(The prior thread, on how designers can push back against PMs):

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