How to Work with Designers

As a product manager, you've got to know how to collaborate productively with designers. Since I just documented my thoughts on the Top 5 Things to be Your Devs' Favorite Product Manager, I thought I should give designers the soapbox this week. 

As a PM, you want to keep your design team happy, because they make your product look good. By making your product look good, designers make you look good, too. And we all like to look good, don't we?

Top 5 Things Designers Want from their Product Manager(s):

  1. Provide a timeline.
    This may seem painfully obvious and simple, but always let your designers know the timeline, or deadline. They may need to organize asks from other product managers. 
  2. Be clear about priority.
    In my past job, I worked with a large UX and UI team and had dozens of requests in the queue at any one time. Designers need to know what to work on first, as as the product manager, it's your responsibility to prioritize.
  3. Give them a simple UX flow with any new ask. 
    No matter how many words you use, designers will need some context. Even if you have a UX designer who is scoping out the comprehensive flow with all possible paths, it helps to provide a starting point to make your ask much more lucid. For more on this, read my lesson on How to Make a Simple Flow Chart.
  4. Listen to your designers' advice. And don't be afraid to be wrong.
    Very often in my career, I've seen product managers ask their design team for advice on how to solve a problem, only to completely ignore their design team's advice when given, even when designers back up their advised solution with A/B testing or other data.
    If you're going to ask your design team for advice, then be ready to listen. Sure, you may have taken that CSS class, and you may think a landing page should be neon green, because your users are all millennials and that's totally their color! Your design team may tell you A/B testing showed otherwise. Listen to them. They can't help you improve your product if you don't listen.
  5. Celebrate your successes.
    It's a long journey from mock-ups to feature launch. Designers rarely get instant gratification. Keep them updated on product and feature launches - and celebrate with them when launches happen! Showing gratitude will go a long way in collaborating with your talented designers on future projects.

Don't have a design team? Read my lesson on making (not-very-pretty) wireframes in a pinch.