Triad Ratios

Triad Ratios have been a discussion forever. They say the ideal ratio is 1:2:10 for ux:pm:engg.

I have my reservations to the numbers and the approach.

A super important aspect of design is not taken into consideration when these ratios are determined.

Firstly, Product Design is a composite subject. It has almost 7 disciplines intertwined in it to serve the product cycle.

User research, user experience, design strategy, information architecture, interaction design, visual design and prototyping. When we say 1 ux in the ratio, we are asking for a full stack designer who shifts gears all along the product cycle. It almost never happens as I am yet to find an expert full stack designer or it happens within the limitations of the designer (a visual full stack designer gives more emphasis to visuals and less to research).

To combat this issue, we tried something in HP where a full stack design team was set and different designers chip in to the context all along the life cycle. This takes us back to the component model vs triad model. The communication overhead and extra design review cycles to be considered while making project plans.

The second important aspect is, good design needs great engineering. And now you can fill in the blanks for great design needs —— engineering. Think about it. Design has no constraints. Imagination has no constraints. What we draw has no constraints. So when we draw the ideal experience, all the complexity is removed from the interface and is pushed to engineering. For a simple interface, the complexity heavy lifting happens at the engineering end. From that perspective when 1ux draws, 10 engineers might not be enough. The more simpler the interface, the more complex engineering is. This is a fact which is never considered and no wonder we settle for complex interfaces and optimal engineering. This is where Apple excels as a company.

The third aspect to think through is: PM does the bulk of value thinking these days. It is not a siloed activity. It is heavily collaborative. Typically a senior PM gets to collaborate with a junior designer in the team and it is not an equal game. 2 PMs vs 1 junior ux equation is a sure shot way of making the product heavily PM driven with almost no voice of designer. 2 PMs make it totally skewed.

Blindly following 1:2:10 may affect your product experience is my point. The project management within product management is for another day.

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