Photo by Oliur Rahman, courtesy of Unsplash

Which UX Skills should Product Owners and Product Managers have?

Published on 20th January 2015

Providing a great user experience is a must for many digital products, and user experience (UX) design has consequently become prominent in recent years. Does this mean that product owners and product managers should become UX experts? Who should design the UX and which UX skills should product owners and product managers have? Read on to find out my recommendations.

Maximising Value

I often get asked how much product owners and product manager should know about user experience (UX) design and who should do the UX work on an agile team. To answer this question, let’s reflect on what product people re responsible: to ensure that your product creates the desired value for the users and for the business. Your job is not to design a great user experience. Does this mean that product owners and product managers should not care about the user experience? Of course not!

Many digital products must provide a great user experience to achieve product success. Take for example Monument Valley, a beautifully designed computer game. If the user interaction, the graphics, the animations, and the music of the game were not right, then it would not be enjoyable to play it. As a consequence, not many people would make in-app purchases, and the product would not generate enough revenue for Ustwo, the company that develops the game. For some products, creating a great user experience is the main differentiator, the quality that sets it apart from the competition and that helps it become a success.

Designing the User Experience

If the user experience design is important but if it’s not a core responsibility of the person in charge of the product, whose job is it? I prefer having one or more qualified user experience designers on the team, the cross-functional team that designs, builds, and tests the product. In a Scrum context, that’s the development team in the picture below.

As the picture above shows, I view it as the job of the development team to offer design and technology leadership and to own the user experience design.

As the person in charge of the product, you should know enough about the users so that you can guide the development team and explain who the product is for, why people (would) buy and use it, what makes it stand out, and what the desired business benefits are. A great way to do this is to create personas including a primary persona.


While it’s great to explain the users’ characteristics and goals to the development team, it’s even better to involve the development team members in carry out the product discovery and user research work out. I have therefore placed the user research work between the product owner and the development team in the picture above.

This allows you to benefit from the individuals’ experience–UX designers are great partners to determine the right user research techniques and carry out the research work–and it allows the team members to acquire firsthand knowledge about the users and empathise with them. This, in turn, makes it more likely that the dev team can create a product with a great user experience.

Post a Comment or Ask a Question


  • Erik says:

    Hi Roman,

    Totally agree on the above. Addtional to “As the product owner or product manager, you should know enough about the determining the right user experience and characterising it so that you can guide the team and effectively collaborate with its members.” I think that it will also help in writing the acceptance criteria of user stories and in refinement sessions to help the team understand the story and acceptance criteria. What are your thoughts?


    • Roman Pichler Roman Pichler says:

      Thanks for sharing your feedback and question. I find that the best way to facilitate effective product backlog and user story work is to allow the development team to get to know the users and understand their needs. You might do this by asking team members to help you observe or interview users, or by jointly presenting product increments to the users. Hope this helps!

    • Roman Pichler Roman Pichler says:

      Hi Erik,

      Thanks for sharing your feedback and thoughts on acceptance criteria. I fully agree that user stories should have acceptance criteria. But I would suggest that you co-create stories with the dev team and jointly determine the acceptance criteria. For more information, please see my articles “10 Tips for Writing Good User Stories” and “Product Leadership in Scrum“.

      Hope this helps!

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