I always advocate in favor of broad definition of User Experience Design practice. The one that contains not only UI design, but whole set of activities that lead to creation of a great product.
“User experience design (abbreviation UX, UXD) – A discipline focused on designing the end-to-end experience of a certain product. To design an experience means to plan and act upon a certain set of actions, which should result in a planned change in the behaviour of a target group (when interacting with a product).
A UX designer’s work should always be derived from people’s problems and aim at finding a pleasurable, seductive, inspiring solution. The results of that work should always be measurable through metrics describing user behaviour. UX designers use knowledge and methods that originate from psychology, anthropology, sociology, computer science, graphic design, industrial design and cognitive science.
When you’re designing an experience, you are in fact planning a change in the behaviour of your target group. You’ve found out their problem and you’re trying to destroy the burden using design methods.
User experience lies at the crossroads of art and science and requires both extremely acute analytical thinking and creativity.”
Planning, measuring, building, validating – that’s pretty broad set of actions, but this is what, I believe, have to be done to create stunning UX Design. The question that’s often asked is the role of Product Manager in that picture. If UX Design is responsible for the product, what Product Manager is responsible for?
I’ve heard from couple of well respected UX Designers, that currently Product Development and User Experience Design are almost the same and in the lean future they actually should become the same. UX Designers are expected to understand business objectives (couldn’t agree more!), be really team oriented (collaboration is crucial!) and guide product through iterations (we should be great at measuring behaviour and acting upon results!).
Is there anything left for Product Managers? Well, in my opinion yes and no. It all depends on the type of organization.