4 new product roles you should know about

As companies scale, it’s only natural for their employee headcount to grow (or in some cases, skyrocket) as well. But it’s not just about adding people, it’s also about adding functions. 

This is especially true for product organizations — where there seems to be increasing pressure on lean teams to produce exponentially more with each release or milestone. And while simply hiring more product managers is one way to think about scale, we think there may be a better solution.

Over the past several months, we’ve noticed some new product job titles starting to emerge. While it’s easy to write off new roles as simply buzzwords, fads, or gimmicks to attract new talent by masking a familiar role under a shiny new title, we think these roles stand a chance to make a large impact.

Some are iterations of previous roles and some are entirely new — but each of the four roles below represent a new subspecialty within product management. And, most importantly, they are all underscored with an emphasis on improving the customer experience.

Whether you’re a product leader looking to grow your team (and not sure what that growth should look like), or a product person with an inkling for a change, keep these four job titles in mind.

1. Product content writer

Also known as…

  • UX writer
  • UX content writer

The primary responsibility of a product content writer is to create in-product content that facilitates the best experience possible. This includes writing for a variety of different mediums — user flows, pop-ups, CTA buttons, microcopy, error messaging — all with the purpose of helping users complete desired tasks in the product.

Product content writers help align the brand voice with the in-product experience (which can be traced back to the growing emphasis on product and marketing alignment), creating continuity throughout the entire customer journey. Similarly, as companies become more product-led, the lines between product and other teams across the organization get blurred. For example, when the goal is to get the user to convert from free to paid, is in-product copy considered marketing content, or product guidance? It’s both.

In that same vein, this role is very much rooted in collaboration — product content writers not only partner with product managers and product owners, but work closely with the broader R&D team, marketing, sales, and customer success to ensure messaging is unified at every touch point.

2. Product operations manager

Also known as…

  • Product ops manager
  • Product ops analyst

You may be starting to hear more and more about product operations (more commonly referred to as product ops). Although the official title is rather new, the function was born out of responsibilities that are often being covered in one way or another — usually by multiple people, on top of their designated role.

Similar to other ops functions, product ops managers drive efficiency and alignment in the product development lifecycle. They are a natural collaborator with product and engineering, and also work closely with the teams responsible for bringing the product to market (sales, marketing, and customer success).

Every company will define the role a little differently, but you can think of the product ops manager as a product expert who supports the rest of the company by providing information such as product knowledge, roadmap updates, experimentation schedules, and product data (both quantitative and qualitative).

Product ops managers are also key partners for the leadership team. Whether it’s by advising on the roadmap or supplying product health data to execs, this role (or team) can use their product insights to help inform business strategy.

3. Product content designer

Also known as…

  • Content designer

Similar to content writers, product content designers are focused on optimizing in-product content, but their scope goes beyond writing copy. They are often responsible for shaping the foundation of the content (largely through research) and ensuring the users’ needs and business goals are met.

One way to think about content design is to consider how all of the different elements within the product (visuals, animations, words) should work together as a system. Simon Alovisi, principal content designer at Intuit, explained how he thinks about the role: “For me, the magic is in figuring out how to bring together all elements (visual, animation) with words; that’s really what ‘designing’ a product experience is all about.”

Rather than being handed designs with placeholder copy, content designers need to consider design from the get-go, and therefore should have the same understanding of design principles as the interaction designers they work with. Above all, the role of the content designer is to create in-product experiences with the users’ needs in mind.

4. Product onboarding manager

Also known as…

  • Product manager, onboarding

Product onboarding managers are an offshoot of customer success managers who are strictly focused on optimizing the onboarding experience. It might not seem worthwhile to have a person (or team) within product dedicated to this, but the onboarding process is a crucial point in the customer lifecycle. 

Think about it: onboarding happens whether the experience is curated or not. When companies spend time and effort to make that experience as seamless (and informative) as possible, users gain value from the product more quickly, which inevitably helps prevent churn. 

At Twitter, they have an entire team dedicated to product onboarding, and in a job posting for a Senior Product Manager, Onboarding, it explains the team’s mission as: “to help users discover the value of Twitter as quickly as possible.” 

One way to accomplish this is to ensure new users form the same habits as the most successful users — and do so as quickly as possible. Product onboarding managers are tasked with analyzing product usage data to identify ways to steer new users toward behaviors that correlate with success in the product.

 

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