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product manager @mongodb // u-mich alum // creator // traveller // music + soccer fan // elleshwer.com

Recently, Allison & I (Elle) have been doing a lot of higher impact UX work on docs.mongodb.com and I have found myself in a unique position where my gut just doesn’t like certain designs for no good reason at all. It led me to go down a bit of a rabbit hole around how do I tell Allison this, how do I provide constructive feedback, how do I shape the design to the vision I see for the project without stepping on toes or making a bad call…

girl thinking

So we had a conversation about it — how to provide feedback…


docs hierarchy cover image

Co-written by Allison Mui & Elle Shwer

In his groundbreaking 1943 paper, psychologist Abraham Maslow theorized that all humans are motivated by five categories of needs: physiological, safety, love and belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization.

Known today as the “Hierarchy of Needs,” this theory is often depicted as a pyramid, for only when one stage is fulfilled can an individual move on to the next.


Why did we start Product Gals?

In the current blog space (i.e. Medium, Substack, Linkedin), we noticed how there are plenty of blogs written by product managers or by product designers but few to none were written in collaboration by both. This is understandable, given the tension that frequently exists between the two product roles, as exposed in a recent Nielson Norman Group Study which highlights the overlap between the roles & responsibilities for both roles. The reality is, in order to succeed in “product”, we must both have an eye for business and delighting users. …


The Product Design (PD) and Product Management (PM) relationship can certainly be a tricky one. Like all high collaboration roles at any company, managing this can certainly make or break your experience.

Co-written by Allison Mui & Elle Shwer.

For anyone who is struggling to build a healthy collaboration with their respective peer or anyone who is about to work with a PD/PM for the first time, we hope these 10 tips will you optimize your PM and PD relationship.

The Difference Between Product Design and Product Management

It’s valuable to understand the roles and responsibilities of each role in order to find success within your own role. By knowing what that person is focused on, it becomes easier to engage with them and make more productive decisions.

Product design and product management overlap in a venn diagram.

As a product designer, you work through each part of the user’s…


I find myself lately retelling this story to quite a few interns and new grads. I recall being in their exact position wondering exactly how to transition careers and who to look up to as a trailblazer in the space.

(10 likes is a lot for me, no judgement please)

Where I work, I remember deeply wishing there were more women in lead positions. Within the product organization alone, we currently have 5 women out of 33, none of whom hold a managerial or above role**. Nonetheless, the product managers at the company (gender non-sequitur) are quite inspirational. I love how they capture the room, inspire the comrades toward a north-star, are decisive and clear. I hope one day to be that person as well.

My transition from product design to product manager was not an overnight task. …


I’m just going to throw some bait out into the wild here and see what happens.

I just had the most riveting Lyft ride of 2019. I met this guy David (also David, if you see this please DM me) and we got to chatting after I almost made him get hit by a moving car in the Upper West Side.

I told him that today I already had some bad karma and if that had happened it would have been the cherry on top for many nightmares to come.

Backstory: I was in a rush getting off a crowded…


I am fairly new to corporate product design which means there are gaps in my knowledge in how to approach synthesizing research results. I’m also very action oriented and solution driven… which tends to mean I skip a lot of steps in my process. Recently I had a 1:1 with Sean Kelly, Director of Product Design @MongoDB, about a framework to implement in future design projects. The following article is me articulating what I learned so that I can refer to it when need be.

How I (and many others) do things

Step 1: Conduct research

In this case, a usability test on a prototype designed to improve a getting started experience for new users. The test was three part 1) information gathering on their expectations and needs 2) testing the prototype out using Invision 3) feedback and survey on their emotions.

Step 2: Distill results into findings and observations.

These are generally places where the user struggled or gave feedback about confusing patterns in the interface. I took detailed notes about every hiccup along the way and put those notes into a spreadsheet broken down by task with their commentary.

Step 3: Create solutions based on the feedback

Upon reviewing my notes, I began to create a t-table with the observations…


This past week I attended one of the School of Information Leadership Series lunches and one piece of advice imparted on the group was “think about the legacy you wish to leave on campus, be that big or small, and try to achieve it by the time you graduate.” I want to keep this in mind and I wish I had earlier, but with one semester left in my college career, I’d hate to leave with regrets.

I have one semester of college left and I am incredibly overwhelmed with sadness trying to understand where the time has gone. But…


The following may not be entirely accurate but to my minds eye, it’s pretty dang close.

I once dated this guy in high school who was incredibly kind, lets call him Bob. Bob worked in an ice cream shop in a busy part of my hometown and he really took to heart some of the key elements of customer service - patience, kindness and gratitude. I, on the other hand, am very impatient, often distracted, and am not one to be thoughtful about the words that flow out of my mouth.

There was one day back when we dated that…


This was such a fun piece for me to write since I am passionate about social media and I love helping develop content strategy for startups struggling to get the word out about their work.

Make users fall in love with your startup. How? By taking advantage of your startups Instagram and building an active following who loves you for you. It’s an incredible opportunity to market your products and services without an extra nickel from your startup’s finances.

1) Make your Instagram Beautiful, Worth Following & Genuine

Figure out your startup’s story and find a way to share that through your Instagram. This will help you develop brand awareness and identity. Now all that might seem a little bit vague and confusing.

Let’s break it down.

The first step is to pick a theme for your startup’s Instagram. What this means is that…

Elle Shwer

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