Product Teams

Tips from Product and UX Leads on How to Collaborate to Build Exceptional Products

Published Oct 30, 2017

Last week, Pendo teamed up with our friends at ProductPlan to explore how product and UX teams can come together to build exceptional products. The webinar, which featured Annie Dunham, ProductPlan’s Director of Product Management; and Kelsey Hughes, UX Designer at Pendo, discussed how their teams embrace sometimes overlapping responsibilities to collaborate in delivering an exceptional product experience.

We received more than a hundred questions from over four hundred attendees, many of which asked for practical tips and tricks from our speakers. We wanted to share a couple of the most interesting ones below.

What are some of your insider tips for usability testing?

It’s always great to have two team members present for the test. That way, you can divide up the roles. While one is moderating and observing, the other can be taking notes. It’s often time consuming to go back and listen to a recording, so having someone who can time stamp when something really interesting happens can help if you want to play back the tape.

It is usually ideal when these two participants are the PM and the designer, which provides a good balance of perspective, however we’ve recently started including our developers in both upfront user interviews and user testing as observers. Almost nothing is more motivating to developers than hearing about the problem they’re solving directly from a customer. It makes it real.

What tools do you recommend to foster collaboration between the product and UX teams?

Ultimately finding a tool that works for both parties is really important. We recommend finding something that both teams are comfortable working and iterating with. For example, we’ve found simply using Google slides is a nice common ground to wireframe on, create quick click through prototypes, and add comments.

But there are other great tools like InVision, Mural, and Confluence that all enable commenting and sharing – which is most important. Balsamiq is another great tool for simple wireframing.  You can simply print out wireframes and collaborate using paper prototyping. This is always a great step that you can take before going full digital.

What is the most effective way to brief key stakeholders?

We have recently started using Confluence, and before that we used a shared Google doc which served as a living, breathing document. We use this central document to list requirements and toss in wireframes for everyone to reference. Living documents are valuable when you can include user stories, hypothesis and requirements in one central place.

We also have product working sessions, which open things up to the wider product team. Sometimes for larger projects, it is also valuable to have a kick off session with all relevant stakeholders. You can do this in person or you can start a Slack channel to actively communicate. Over-communication is encouraged here to ensure that everyone is in the loop.

What are your tips for bringing engineering into the process?

We like to include developers for initial discovery interviews, and also for usability testing during the development process. This helps to provide context on things they will be building as well as the process as a whole. By including developers early in the process, we are able to use their insights and feedback along the way.

At Pendo we also use our app to help with usability testing by recruiting users and getting feedback through in-app guides and surveys. We also dig into the analytics to learn more about users we are about to interview. We look at their product usage, their roles (in both the product and their organizations) and their overall activity patterns.

In addition to these insider tips, our speakers also stressed the importance of clearly defining your roles, understanding your objectives, playing to your strengths, and most importantly, listening to each other in order to achieve successful collaboration.

Want more insider tips on how product and UX teams can work together to build great products? 

Watch the full webinar video here.