How to transition from UX Designer to Product Manager

How to transition from UX Designer to Product Manager

In their 2019 trends survey, the Product Management Festival found the range of different roles that product managers were in BEFORE they started in product management, and the list is quite long (see image below)

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Product Management Festival Trends & Benchmark Report 2019

In their study, the transition from UX Designer to Product Manager represented nearly 2% of all transitions into product.

What skills do UX designers bring to product management?

There are two main reasons that there are considerable numbers of UX designers who make the transition into product management:

  • Proximity to product roles
  • Shared skills

When it comes to shared skills across roles, the following are perhaps most relevant:

  • Good understanding of user experience
  • Have a customer focus
  • Creative design thinking
  • Requirements gathering
  • Understanding the user’s needs

What skills gaps might a UX Designer have?

Of course, being in a different type of role doesn’t expose you to the full range of skills that are required when you’re in an alternative position, and the following are the most typical skills gaps for UX Designers:

  • Understanding system interactions
  • Workload and feature prioritization
  • Gathering user requirements and writing up these requirements
  • Stakeholder management
  • Handling day-to-day decision making that affects the work the team is working on

How to fill a skills gap

When it comes to findings ways to fill skills gaps, there are a few areas in which UX designers can work to gather the necessary expertise, including:

  • Taking on the role of scrum master — which will assist with understanding more of the technical challenges and handling day-to-day decisions
  • Work alongside a product manager — which will expose them to decision making and more strategic thinking
  • Manage your design backlog like a product backlog — which will provide experience in writing user stories, prioritization, and decision making

For many of these steps, the important thing is to speak to others in the business and find opportunities to help them and gain the experience needed to fill the gap.

Talk to the existing product management team and, of course, your line manager, to find the moments to pick up new skills that will count towards your future product role.

Supportive content to fill a skills gap