While we build products around personas, there are plenty of reasons why product managers should be looking at the bigger picture. In this ProductTank NZ talk, Saielle DaSilva, Head of User Experience at car buying site Cazoo, talks about moving beyond human-centered design.
Watch the video to see her talk in full, or read on for an overview of the key points:
- Human-centered products
- Beyond human-centered design
- Building regenerative products
Saielle (formerly Eli Montgomery, shared with permission) says that product managers are taught to think of design as something that impacts one persona. She explains that while design may have an impact on, say, Mary, it also affects Stephen, Jamila, Jose, Fernanda, and their ecosystem. Focusing on one persona helps product managers think about their customers, but it also limits their understanding of what else is out there.
Products that are meaningful, delightful, desirable, useful or usable also have a dark side that can make us self-centered, frivolous, addictive, wasteful or thoughtless. Seven of the 10 largest companies in the world are tech companies, so product managers need to be aware that they are the ones shaping the world, how it works, how money moves in it, and how people make decisions.
Beyond human-centered design
Human-centered design has put us in a place where we look at just the individual transaction between a single person and a company. Unfortunately, when product managers do this, they are missing out on product strategy and opportunities as well as the environmental and ethical impacts of the products they’re designing.
To fix this, product managers should do two things:
1. Uncover systems and impacts
It’s not enough to measure product success at the individual level as human-centered design happens in systems and has system-level consequences. The more something is tailored for the particular likes, dislikes, skills, and needs of a specific target population, the less likely it will be appropriate for others.
2. Reframe where you measure value
Products like Uber and Lyft are great for availability and convenience but generate 70% more pollution than the trips they displace. According to Saielle, this isn’t just a moral crisis but also bad business as these ride-sharing and food-delivery services are funded by venture capital. On the individual level, this convenience is great, but it isn’t for the collective.
Building regenerative products
The absence of design is a hazardous type of design. If product managers want to see the next century of product management, the world demands better. For product managers to make informed choices about the future and about the structure of products moving forward, there are a few things they can do, including:
- Following the JEDI framework of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion;
- Use system mapping tools like the Service Blueprint and Journey Map to map how back-end systems connect to customer journeys;
- Using system ecology tools to help identify opportunities to optimize and think about the layers at which customers interact with a product, their mindset, how the service gets delivered, and things that would help that service.
The key takeaways from this talk are that human-centered products still have their place. Still, ultimately product managers need to consider the future and how to design products that are regenerative, sustainable, empowering, equitable and responsible.