Product design is a complex and challenging process, and there are many factors that can contribute to its success or failure.
Challenge 1: Working in the dark.
One vital trait of a great product designer is to evaluate the work at hand as objectively as possible.
This can be achieved by the utilization of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) – lack of these metrics, therefore, can be highly challenging to deploy a stellar product design.
Challenge 2: Justifying the product design process vs the business process.
The product design process can be perceived as too complicated, lengthy, and costly. Justifying the strategic cost reductions and overall higher quality is a must. Say something in this line:
"Would you rather a product of a questionable quality and/or may not solve the paint the consumer has – which consequently forces us to repeat the product design process from scratch, or instead you can allow the due diligence of a well-researched product design process?"
Of course, be polite and all. Just make sure that the idea comes across, emphasizing the true value of this process. Speak $$$ and they'll get it.
Challenge 3: Convincing the company that a thorough user research is a must and not an option.
User research is still relatively new in the C-level executives orbit. It is perceived as a "nice" touch to the product lifecycle rather than a key metric for a successful product. Convincing the budget for such elementary activity will prove its value once the non-research product flops and there is no other way but to go through a user research phase. Value of such an intangible asset will only be understood once a disaster happens. And that is...a product that solves no one's problem.
Challenge 4: Conducting user research when user access is limited
Most of the time, you will find yourself in a deserted island called "where are my users?" – in this island, you will realize that your users live thousand of miles away, with little to no access to the internet. You might also discover that the barrier-to-entry is also high, whether it is time-consuming, $$-consuming, or legally-consuming (thinking of user research for patients here). What to do?
This challenge is where you must re-align yourself well with the C-suite. If they want to bring out a product for this segment of users so badly then they must help you out by any means possible. If you are an independent product designer here, then you must re-assess yourself if you need to start collaborating with potential entities who have a faster access to these users or abort the project all together. Sometimes, certain products are not meant to be designed by us, specifically.
I know, this is a hard pill to swallow. But hey! there is always a next product. ;)
Challenge 5: Translating user data into "actionable insights".
This is the challenge of the century: massive datasets, so much information draining our attention day and night...but insights are still rare. Good product designers, however, have a way to single the signal from the noise. Thus, emphasizing on impactful elements and polishing the most significant ROI for the company.
Challenges are inevitable. Navigating through them and bringing opportunities out of them are what matters.
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