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I have recently started a new Product Designer position in a company.

In my previous job, the data to design on was given to me by a Product Owner, who knew the business idea precisely, and a UX Researcher, who gave me specific data about the users.

As a designer I took all that data, and made designs and prototypes that had to meet a series of requirements that were given to me in stories created by the Project Manager.

Later, my designs were evaluated in user tests by another person, and a series of data were obtained and given to me, with which I improved the designs.

But in the company where I am now, despite being larger, there is no UX researcher, and the Product Owner makes decisions that are not based on any research, only on his intuition. In addition, the stories are described with such precision that they do not give much margin for design, with requirements such as "The user accesses the new functionality X through Screen Y", that is, the designs are already very directed from PO and PM.

The thing is that both myself and the developers often have opinions contrary to those of PO and PM on decisions that will affect users, but so far their decisions have not been challenged.

The thing is that the design part is enough of a burden that I propose to also take care of all the research, user interviews and usability tests, so that we have reliable data to work on, and not the simple intuition of the POs. But on the other hand, user data and tests are obviously necessary for the product to be successful.

Have you been in a similar situation?

How would you approach it?

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2 Answers 2

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User Research can take many forms, so there's no reason for it not to fit in with your work.

I would suggest you base the designs on the scope as set out by the PO and PMs but carry out some research with users using those designs, before it goes into the build.

Get 5 or so potential users, define some scenarios, give them the designs (or even turn them into a clickable prototype if you have scope) and ask them how they would achieve these scenarios using the site as has been designed.

That way you can test if the hypotheses that the PO/PM proposed hold water or if there are gaps, confusion or other issues with them.

Then you gather that feedback and take it back to the PO/PM to illustrate what may need to change. Potentially having put some suggestions together yourself beforehand.

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You can do things that bring a user-centered design mentality into your team and make them aware of the importance of doing user surveys and interviews.

If you run any AB test or monitoring after the release of the features, it's a good way to reflect on the team's design thinking process. Did the feature have the expected impact? with that, it's easier for you to indicate why we need to get feedback from customers, and it's also become easier for your PO and PM to realize that their approach does not work best.

You can also run some simple unmoderated tests if you don't have a dedicated user researcher. I'd recommend UsabilityHub. When you are in doubt or the team has different opinions, you can quickly set up a test and bring insightful feedback that helps your team to make more informed decisions.

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