Product Design: The non-negotiables


Product Design: The non-negotiables


Many firms are seeking the transition to a more user centric approach to product design and feature roadmapping.


It’s easy to see why – research validated products promise marketable success – a great value proposition for users and minimised risk and higher productivity for companies.


This represents a road toward ‘Design maturity’ – simply put; the move along the spectrum from Unconscious design – to more pervasive Design Thinking embedded across all departments.

But what do you need to have in place to achieve this? Here are some ‘non-negotiables’ items which need to be swiftly added to build a recipe for repeated success in product design.



The Corporate kind.

It is possible to build a ‘Vanilla’ approach to UX strategy but it will lack cohesion and be harder to generate buy-in for. All other strategies should be result of, and serve this one – it should state a mission that galvanises the organisation by calling out user value and provides initial direction and impetus for other departments.


UX Strategy

Essential to define a thorough process that involves all major stakeholders and departments. Ideally very short, even a sentence can be ideal, this will: Identify users, acknowledge challenges, align the business value with user value and have measurable KPIs/OKRs – define what experience you want your users to have and what defines the relationship between you.

UX Strategy needs to feed from, and inform, Product strategies which in turn need to serve the overall corporate vision. If you don’t have one of those – that would be a good place to start first! – Without overall sense of direction from top level, generating the cohesion and motivation needed to keep everyone guided and purposeful is a much greater struggle.



I’ve started teams with just one (me!) and built out large departments feeding into multiple cross-functional teams. There are a myriad of Design/UX skills and deliverables. The people involved need to cover many of these but don’t hold out for a unicorn, they can’t do user interviews and design UI micro-interactions at the same time! It’s a must to have both ends of the spectrum represented but teams need development plans too – and there’s plenty to ‘level-up’ on.


Design System / DesignOps

A living breathing system which recognises that everything from brand / marketing through to UX copywriting and UI across all channels needs to present a joined-up experience in line with the expressed vision.


Research Library / Playback

So many sources of actionable research – but constant access and constant playback through established channels are required to ensure that priceless intelligence isn’t lost.


The Organisational Mindset

Humans: we’re not famed for embracing change – but that is what’s required to move from a technical and solutions based approach to one that dwells in the problem space and interrogates real users to discover real challenges. There is discomfort in this pivot – to shift to a mind set where people are ‘OK’ with sharing unfinished work and experienced and happy to both give and receive criticism.



All of these things should be non-negotiable in the long run – to produce truly valuable products from a process which all can see the benefit of contributing to. however, just like any successful product they can, and will, co-exist at various stages of maturity as they all develop over time – that’s cool too..![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]