Product Management for UX People Cover

Product Management for UX People

From Designing to Thriving in a Product World

By Christian Crumlish

To be published: 2022

More and more, designers are grappling with product management—as a peer discipline, as the job title of a boss or teammate, and as a future career destination. But there is surprisingly little help for designers who seek to understand what it takes to manage products and services. In Product Management for UX Designers, Christian Crumlish plumbs the intersections and gaps between design and product management for both designers who want to work with product managers and designers who want to become product managers.


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More about Product Management for UX People

Testimonials

Whether you’re a designer considering a career change, or simply want to understand your product managers better, this book is an exceptional guide to the unique challenges of the product craft. Designers and product people have some clear overlaps—but also key differences. In this excellent book, Christian helps distinguish the two roles, succinctly breaks down the unique challenges of the product craft, and explains what it means to transition from one to the other—and in so doing, helps us all understand each other better.

—Martin Eriksson, co-author, Product Leadership, and co-founder and chairman, Mind the Product

Filled with wisdom from Crumlish and other experts on the business aspects of product development, this book teaches UX designers what to expect from PMs and encourages them to become one.

—Peter Boersma, DesignOps manager, Miro

Christian lights the way for folks in UX to successfully navigate the world of product management. A must-read for any serious UX practitioner.

—Clement Kao, CEO, product teacher

Finally, a book that zooms into the Venn diagram between product management and UX with day-in-the-life clarity.

—Hà Phan, UX designer turned Director of Product

I’m so bloody excited about this book. At last, a definitive guide to demystifying product management (and product managers) for UX folk. Christian has nicely bridged a gap that will improve your collaboration to deliver the best-designed products and services.

— Jared Spool, Maker of Awesomeness, Center Centre – UIE

Too few books think through the synergies as well as complexities of transitioning from UX to product. Christian’s book explores those nuances and provides a straightforward roadmap of what skills translate and where there are opportunities to learn a great deal more

—B. Pagels-Minor, product and thought leader

This is the book to read if you’re thinking of a career transition from UX to product. You’ll find out more about what you’ll get (decision-making power) and what you’ll lose (your idealism and purity).

—Ellen Chisa, Founder in Residence, Boldstart Ventures

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: What Exactly Does a Product Manager Do?
Chapter 2: Do You Want to Be a Product Manager?
Chapter 3: UX Skills that Carry Over
Chapter 4: Wrangling Engineers
Chapter 5: The Business of Product is Business
Chapter 6: Product Analytics: Growth, Engagement, Retention
Chapter 7: Testing Hypotheses with Experiments
Chapter 8: Getting the Money
Chapter 9: Healthy Collaborative Tension on the Product UX Spectrum
Chapter 10: Roadmaps and How to Say “No”
Chapter 11: Chief Information Architect

Foreword

There’s a particular sparkle I’ve often seen in the eyes of UX professionals who are considering a pivot to product management. In many cases, this is the sparkle of a redemption narrative in the making: “I’m sick of other product managers not understanding the value and importance of UX, and when I become a product manager, I’ll treat my whole team with respect and elevate UX to a more strategic position!”
Cut to a year later, and that sparkle has usually faded. The reality of product management—with its deadlines, estimates, high-stakes decisions, and high-pressure stakeholders—inevitably complicates your best-laid plans and purest ambitions. Slowly but surely, you start to realize why some of the product managers you’ve worked with were “like that.” And, with the right real-world guidance, you are able to navigate the complex realities of product management while building on the user-centric superpowers you developed as a UX person.
Product Management for UX People provides that very guidance. Christian Crumlish has lived through the transition from UX to product management, and is unerringly generous and candid in sharing both his experiences and those of other folks whose work has bridged the worlds of product and UX. Here, you’ll find compelling real-world stories of the highs, the lows, and (mostly) the relentless ambiguous middles of product management. And, best of all, you’ll learn how your experience as a UX person can help you be the kind of product manager you want to see in the world.
As you read this book, you will experience moments of far-flung inspiration, somber realization, deep reflection, and anxious-yet- steely resolve. If that doesn’t capture the day-to-day reality of life as a product manager, I don’t know what does.
—Matt LeMay, partner at Sudden Compass and author of Product Management in Practice and Agile for Everybody

FAQ

These common questions and their short answers are taken from Christian Crumlish’s book Product Management for UX People: From Designing to Thriving in a Product World. You can find longer answers to each in your copy of the book, either printed or digital version.

  1. Can I become a product manager and continue to do a lot of design work every day?
    Unlikely. Maybe in a small start-up where they need you to do two jobs at once, but product managers are not designers and the day- to-day work of the two roles differs significantly, as explained in Chapter 2, despite the large overlapping areas of shared concern.
  2. Do UX people make good product managers?
    They absolutely can. It’s no guarantee, but the best product managers I’ve worked with had a sophisticated understanding of user experi- ence research, strategy, and design principles, an abiding obsession with the needs of customers and other users, and a deep respect for UX practitioners. Chapter 3 identifies some of the key UX strengths the provide a strong foundation for product success.
  3. If I become a PM, will it mean that I can boss around the engineers (finally)?
    Not really, but you cannot succeed as a product manager without learning how to effectively organize and focus the efforts of your colleagues on the engineering team. Chapter 4 explains how you can use your UX “superpowers” to become your developers’ best ally.
  4. Is “growth hacking” the enemy of good user experience?
    Kinda. Certainly the cancerous “growth for its own sake” ethos driven by capitalism and its Silicon Valley derivative, venture capitalism, makes short shrift of most UX ideals, but “growth” itself is not a dirty word. Every organism must learn how to grow if it is to thrive. See Chapter 6 for a rundown on how to optimize your product’s growth in a healthy way.
  5. Are product and UX teams always stuck in turf wars?
    No, but poorly designed org structures and weakly articulated role responsibilities from leadership are a recipe for conflict, strife, and wasted effort. This is why, whatever side of the table you sit on, you need to negotiate the gray areas and the distinctions between “involved” and “has the final say” for each critical aspect of the work, as discussed in Chapter 9.
  6. How many information architects does a product leadership team need?
    At least one, as explained in Chapter 11.