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UX or PM? How about UX+PM?

As I worked toward my Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) credential and especially since I became a CUA, I am often asked whether I am moving the direction of my career from Product Management to User Experience. Part of me thinks that maybe I am reaching one of those points in my career where I can take one direction vs. another, but another part of me also believes that I should not have to choose between UX and PM.

User Experience (UX) is a part of good Product Management (PM). A product designed without thought to user experience or usability is less likely to be a truly good product. A truly successful product will be one that keeps the end user in the forefront of the product process from concept to launch.

I enjoy the creative process involved in UX, but ultimately, I am a pragmatist instead of an idealist. I have to be the realist when no one else will. As the product manager, I hold responsibility for the overall success, including the user experience. I am ultimately accountable for decisions and execution, instead of recommendations. I have to play a very diplomatic role of managing conflicting ideas and priorities while making progress and getting things done. I need to be the uber-collaborator — to sweat the details, coordinate everything that goes into a successful product, communicate/champion/evangelize internally and externally, and still keep an eye out on the big picture.

I enjoy the dynamic, broad, strategic, tactical, and communication roles that a product manager is responsible for. I never get bored by the constant challenge between balancing users’ needs and the needs of the business, competition in the market, resources and support available to the product. I not only have to be close to the users/customers, I also need to understand stakeholders. The ultimate ideal for me is to be where the user desires meet business goals (more overlap the better), which is why I   I tend to gravitate toward the consumer internet space.

There is nothing like making a kick ass product that helps other people kick ass.
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