Season 3 - Episode 4

Designing the Best User Experience

Alfonso De La Nuez is the Co-Founder and CEO of UserZoom. UserZoom provides an all-in-one UX research platform for the Enterprise, it automates and scales user research. He talks us through understanding the consumer, overlaps between CEOs and PMs and biggest opportunities in the product industry.

Watch the Episode Here: Designing the Best User Experience

Question [00:07:16] What are those problems that you are most passionate about? 

Alfonso [00:07:36] Firstly, it’s very difficult to deliver great digital experiences. We focus mostly on digital products, so the user research and the testing that you can do is on digital products. And the fact is that we think every company is a digital experience company today, and with COVID-19, this vision is actually being accelerated. So if you’re going to be competitive, if you’re going to beat your competition, you really need to deliver great experiences.

Now that’s easier said than done as I’m sure you and all your audiences know, right. It’s very difficult. So one of the things you can do is understand the problem and understand the audience, the target audience, truly understand it.

That’s where user research can really help. Now user research is quite broad. It’s all about understanding who is the end user, whether it’s a customer or user, and you can do multiple types of projects or studies and use multiple different methodologies, qualitative, quantitative, usability testing. Like I was saying earlier, or surveys or analytics there’s types of intelligence that you can use to gather insights, and that’s what you want to do.

When you discuss falling in love with the problem, it’s really about understanding the problem and the needs in order to design the best experience. So with UserZoom, what we’ve tried to do is make user experience research scalable, because otherwise it’s difficult to get it done, especially in the agile development days that we live in.

Question [00:09:41} What are some of those, myths and misconceptions that you’ve seen in the product management world?

Alfonso [00:09:52] I think, more than a myth, I just feel like the role of product management is changing and has been changing in the last few years. I kind of feel like UX design is a huge part of the role. I think it used to be when I was, earlier in my career, product managers tended to be a lot more business focused. Today I feel like you need to be a lot more design-focused because at the end of the day, the experience, the quality of the experience the end user is going to have is going to be what makes or breaks the success of the product. So I feel one of the myths, I don’t know if it’s a myth really, but it’s, there’s this notion that product managers should be, or are business people or tech people. I feel like they need to be design experts as well.  

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Question [00:13:08] What would you say is this overlap in skills between CEOs and product managers?

Alfonso [00:13:18] I think at the end of the day, they both share the concept of leadership. When I think about a PM, I think about a small CEO of a product, or maybe a large product, you know, obviously a small way starting up. At the end of the day, it’s all about leading, motivating, inspiring, and partnering. It takes a village. A Product. Manager’s going to deal with multiple personalities and egos and skills, from design to development, to marketing, product marketing, etc. I think there’s a lot of common ground. As a product manager, you should set a vision or a North star for the product, something that inspires the team to go build it, deliver it, manage it, and create the strategy of how to get there. 

And then again, back to the recent user research. We made the mistake in user zoom originally of not really paying that much attention to the audience. We found out a little bit later, not that long, it didn’t take us that long, which is good. We figured out who was the target audience for this, for this product. We ended up saying the enterprise, the user experience researcher within the enterprise is going to be our target audience. So I think as a product manager, you also need to pay attention to the target audience. And again, use user research to dedicate to figure that out.

Once again, CEO’s and PMs are going to have people that you hired to build the company or the product, and then you want to trust them, you want to, trust and verify. You want to test, measure and monitor the progress of the, of the product. And a lot of that’s the same when you’re a CEO of a company that is either small or big.

You might also be interested in: 8 Product Managers Who Became CEOs- and How!

Question [00:19:46] Is there anything in particular that you’re still doing as a CEO, that you think is so core to the business that it’s good for you to continue doing?

Alfonso [00:19:58] Yeah, certainly, that change that I was talking about earlier, the shift of my role, the different tasks. I used to do everything and that doesn’t scale. I think one thing that you have to do is to talk to, in my case, I’m talking to four major constituents. I talked to customers, especially now with zoom, it’s actually quite easy. So I tried to talk to about three to four customers a week, and it doesn’t matter how big they are. Sometimes smaller ones, smaller deals are also very important to learn. 

The second one is certainly the employees, and I would actually say that number one is the employees, especially these days, customers are second.

And then I talk to analysts and people in the marketplace that are influencers. People that run conferences like yourself. And then last, well, there’s two more. So one would be the analysts. I work with Gartner and Forrester, it’s a two way street here. I try to get trends and information from intelligence, from them, from their papers, but I also tell them about what’s going on in our industry, because our industry is fairly new.

Then the last one is investors, you know, as a CEO, you should always be talking to potential investors, even if you’re not raising, you’re having conversations with people out there.

I forgot one more, sorry. I guess there’s six, which are partners. There’s always companies that you want to partner with, that you’re working with. So the partners, I may not talk that much, but certainly with employees, customers, investors, and analysts, I spend probably somewhere between 50 to 60% of my time.

Question [00:31:04] Where do you think are the biggest opportunities for not just product managers, but in general people working in product?

Alonso: [00:31:12] I’m going to go back to that design comment earlier, because I can see how powerful a combination for companies out there that are going through digital transformation and are looking for product managers to lead the development of design and development and delivery of a product. In this case, I’m thinking about most of the digital products, right. But, it’s very rare to see the combination of business, technology and design. So I feel that in the future, a lot more attention is going to be placed on the design aspect, the front end. In order to be competitive, you have to have an enterprise backend and a consumer grade front end, even if you’re in B2B, even if we’re for B2B companies, right. Not all, of course, consumer B2C companies are, it’s kind of taken for granted, but I would argue that, and again, I’m part of this design community, the design and research community. 

I feel like research is part of design. So for a product manager to really understand what it takes to design great experiences, understanding of design principles and research is key. You could combine that with the business aspect and understand how design can actually impact or how it relates to business. The KPIs that you need for instance, to measure the success of a feature. Is it just an analytics? Is it just the number of active users? Is it the traffic that goes up or is there other metrics out there such as the quality of the experience? Not just MPS, but there’s a lot of other metrics that a product manager, should handle and use on a monthly basis as part of their product KPIs that I think are related to the UX and the design. I think that there’s a bright future there, for sure.

You might also be interested in: User Research for Insights that Count with Director of Product

We’ll be back next week with David Cancel from Drift with even more of the latest insights from the Product Management world.

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