In the previous article from  the Product Manager’s Handbook Series I talked about why UX is so important to Product Managers. In this one we’re going to dive a little deeper into some specific tools and methods that you can take on from UX Designers and Researchers on your team. Their perspective on the product will always be focused on the end-user and, while you also need to keep the business objectives in mind, it should be your primary focus, too. Here’s some great tools to give you more insight into what the users actually need:

  1. Two Key Principles Of Product Management
  2. How To Make The Best Project Decisions As A Product Manager
  3. How To Be A Great Product Management Leader?
  4. Why Is UX So Important For Product Managers?
  5. Using UX Techniques To Make Better Product Decisions
  6. The Best Mental Models For Product Managers
  7. Testing From The Product Manager’s Perspective
  8. How To Use Deadlines Effectively In Product Management?
  9. 6 Biggest Myths About Product Development
  10. A Day In Life Of A Product Manager

The User Persona Canvas

The first and probably most basic UX tool you can use as a PM is the User Persona Canvas. It’s a very simple canvas that you fill in with the information about your target audience. The biggest benefit for you as a PM in using this canvas would be that it makes it easier to identify with the persona. Having the canvas printed out and in a visible place will ensure that the user’s needs are always in the back of your head. And that will make your product-related decisions more user-oriented.

User Flows & User Journeys

The next tools you can borrow from UX Designers are the User Flows and User Journeys. You have probably written out User Stories many times when planning tasks for the project. User Flows and User Journeys are similar, but from a wider perspective. They will give you an overview of the entire experience the user has with your product and help you to connect the dots, so to speak, between certain functionalities.

Workshop Methods

So, have you ever been really stuck with a problem and couldn’t find a solution for weeks or even months? Sometimes product management decisions can feel impossible to make. And that’s where the next UX tools come in. During the discovery and ideation phases of the project, UX Researchers use various methods to stimulate creative thinking and problem-solving. Here’s a few simple examples:

  1. Provocation

Sometimes we seem to be stuck on a certain idea. And that stops us from thinking outside the box. That’s when the provocation technique will come in handy. It’s a great way to break out of a schematic way of thinking. The exercise works like this: you take a problem at hand and think up unrealistic, crazy solutions. Something completely out of the blue. Don’t worry about whether it’s doable. The exercise is meant to push you outside of your comfort zone.

  1. Brainwriting

This one is like a brainstorm but much more calm and without the pressure. There’s no yelling and no chaos. Brainwriting is about giving each person a few cards and a pen as well as a set time limit to write down ideas. Then, you take them all and put them on a whiteboard to discuss and evaluate (this exercise can also be done online using a tool like Miro or MindMeister).

  1. Crazy 8’s

This method is particularly useful when it comes to visual issues. But it can also be helpful when it comes to deciding on a theme etc. Each participant gets an A4 piece of paper which they need to fold in half three times. This way the page gets divided into 8 boxes. Then, set the times for 8 minutes and let everyone fill in one box with one idea. The time limit and the amount of ideas to come up with usually lets people let loose a little and makes a lot of unexpected ideas come out.

These are just a few examples of workshop methods UX Researchers use, but they can really help you out when you’re feeling stuck at any point during the product development process.

The Value Of Testing & Collecting Data

Lastly, there’s something to be said about UX Designers’ love for testing and gathering data. And that’s because it takes out the guesswork. Even if you’re not a UX Designer or a Researcher, you can still test out your ideas or put a strong focus on usability testing as a PM. It will make your decision-making process easier and there’s an added bonus as well. If someone asks why you made a certain choice, you can just point them to a research report. Problem solved.

If you’d like to learn how to use more canvases and techniques, you can check out our free eBook. To watch the Product Manager’s Handbook Series, click here to visit our YouTube channel. If you’re looking for a product development team to work with to deliver excellent products and results, contact us!