Design-led Product Management

Within the WooCommerce division at Automattic we’ve been taking a design-led approach to building products.

What does this (design-led) mean? It means we start with empathy, focus on the experience, and emotions (how a person feels about product/service). We work on understanding the people using our products – their problems, needs, and goals – and prioritize it parallel to business goals. By starting with people, mining for insights, and using low fidelity artifacts we validate assumptions, and explore multiple potential outcomes before building the final product.

Since design is leading the process, one area I’ve been working on improving is my understanding of product management frameworks, and processes.

I reached out to a few colleagues for book suggestions (or alternative resources) on the topic. Below are 5 book recommendations they made.



Well-Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love

by Jon Kolko

“In this refreshingly jargon-free and practical book, product design expert Jon Kolko maps out this process, demonstrating how it will help you and your team conceive and build successful, emotionally resonant products again and again.” –excerpt from Amazon



Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams

by Richard Banfield and Martin Eriksson

“This insightful book presents interviews with nearly 100 leading product managers from all over the world. Authors Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson, and Nate Walkingshaw draw on decades of experience in product design and development to capture the approaches, styles, insights, and techniques of successful product managers. If you want to understand what drives good product leaders, this book is an irreplaceable resource.” – excerpt from Amazon



Intercom on Product management

by Des Traynor (Author), John Collins (Editor)

“This book gives you the tools to decide which features to improve, which features to ignore, and how to better address your customers.” – excerpt from Intercom



Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

by Clayton M. Christensen and Karen Dillon

“Christensen, Hall, Dillon, and Duncan contend that by understanding what causes customers to “hire” a product or service, any business can improve its innovation track record, creating products that customers not only want to hire, but that they’ll pay premium prices to bring into their lives… This book carefully lays down the authors’ provocative framework, providing a comprehensive explanation of the theory and why it is predictive, how to use it in the real world–and, most importantly, how not to squander the insights it provides.” – excerpt from Amazon



High Output Management

by Andy Groove

“Grove covers techniques for creating highly productive teams, demonstrating methods of motivation that lead to peak performance—throughout, High Output Management is a practical handbook for navigating real-life business scenarios and a powerful management manifesto with the ability to revolutionize the way we work.” – excerpt from Amazon


Bonus 1: Mind the Product blog 

“One of the best ways to learn about Product Management from peers, and for product people to socialise with like-minded people.” – from Mind the Product


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Bonus 2: The Product Manager’s Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Succeed as a Product Manager

by Steven Haines

“With this practical guide in your hands, you have the most powerful tool available for increasing your productivity quickly and dramatically–in a way that is noticeable and measurable… The Product Manager’s Survival Guide gives you the tools and insight you need to start putting the pieces in place now–so you can succeed well into the future.” – excerpt from Amazon


These are on my reading list for the next couple months. Will share learnings from each as I complete them.

Have any product management books, or resource recommendations? If so, would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

By Ola Bodera

Theme Wrangler, photographer, food blogger, and science-fiction fun.


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