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Arslan Ijaz for Tkxel

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Why Product Thinking is the next big thing in UX Design

UX Designers didn't start life as UX designers. That's because, at its core, UX Design is just a thought process. It's a way of thinking and speaking that allows designers to disregard their personal preferences, user behaviors, and past experiences so that they can critique a product without any real-world bias.

That's right – no personal opinions or ideas! You might be surprised to hear this. You probably have a healthy respect for the history of our craft, but it's time to ditch the past, especially because our industry isn't even 30 years old yet. We should never be nostalgic about old methods and techniques that don't work well in the modern world.

Uncover the jobs the product is hired for ​UX Design

The UX design is the expertise that covers all of the interactions between the user, its environment, and the software system used. The philosophy behind this design is to make it easy for both the customer and you to navigate your website quickly and easily.

Think about a building that has an elevator with a hectic button grid: there are buttons for every floor, trash, cabins, reserved parking lots… The same happens with web interfaces; they are cluttered with unnecessary toolbars, windows, and icons.

Think about products and build the right features for the right people

The best way to make something users love is to get a prototype in front of them and refine it based on their reactions. Start with an idea from your customer development interview or just your own. Then write down what the user does step by step.

For example, if you're making a to-do list, first, the user will need to create an account. Then they'll want to log in. Now they see their empty to-do list and can fill it up. Once some items are on the list, they'll want to mark them as done. And so on.

Next, you sketch screens for each of these steps, showing exactly what the user sees and does at each point.

If you're working on a web appliaction, you can use Balsamiq or Omnigraffle for this. If it's a mobile application, there is no need for anything special: use pen and paper.

Once you have some sketches of your screens, show them to someone who will be honest with you—a potential user or a friend from another product group—and walk them through it step by step while they pretend they're using it for real.

The Problem-Solution-Fit

The Problem-Solution-Fit is the fit between the "problem space" (the domain of the problem you're trying to solve) and the "solution space" (the domain of your solution).

To be clear, we use the term "problem space" to refer to the set of all problems that are relevant to a particular user. We use "solution space" to refer to the set of solutions considered by a particular user.

The problem space and solution space may overlap, in which case, there is a Problem-Solution-Fit. But they don't have to overlap! It's very common for there not to be any overlap at all. This means that the product will have no customers because no one has that problem or considers that solution.

In contrast, if there is a small overlap between the problem space and solution space, then a handful of people will have that problem and are looking for this solution. If there is a large overlap, then many people have this problem and are looking for this solution.

Finally, if they coincide perfectly, everyone has this problem and is looking for this solution!

The Product Definition

People in user experience and design are familiar with what is called the "product definition." This is essentially a document or set of documents that outline what will be built for a client, why it should be built, who it is for, how everything should be done, when it will be done, and by when.

It also outlines the goals of your project. This acts as a communication tool between you (the designer) and your client on what they should expect to see at the end of your project.

The power of Product Thinking

Product Thinking is a way of looking at the world that helps us spot opportunities to improve our users' lives. It's about understanding how real people live and what problems they need to solve. It's about building products that help them solve those problems better.

Product Thinking is the opposite of Product Design, which focuses on how a product works. Product Design includes interaction design, graphic design, and industrial design, but it also encompasses many related disciplines like user research, information architecture, and visual design. These are essential parts of making great products, but they're only part of the story.

At their best, companies with a product thinking mindset don't just think about what their products should do; they also think about why they exist: who they're for, what jobs they help people do, and what experiences they create.

They use this insight to understand their users: who they are, where they live, and what matters to them. And this, in turn, helps them prioritize the right things to build into their products and identify ways to improve existing ones."

Conclusion

Many UX designers nowadays have a high awareness of the importance of product thinking, and many times, a lot of them apply the same to their design process. Product thinking helps us see the essence of a product and think about how it will be used through the various stages of its life cycle. It changes our focus from "how can we build great UI?" to "how can we build products that people love?".

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