Julie Zhuo

Julie Zhuo

Product Design Director at Facebook

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 09, 2015

Discussion

Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
I'm Julie Zhuo, director of product design at Facebook. My team works on designing the News Feed, Groups, and other core experiences like sharing with friends, catching up on news and media, and developing design standards and tools for Facebook. I write a lot about design, tech, and various other topics (like my dog) at https://medium.com/@joulee. My favorite food is ramen.
Julien Pelletier
Julien Pelletier@jupelletier · Experience Designer @BlaBlaCar
Hi @joulee ! Thanks for taking the time for this AMA. Here's my question : I heard you are organized with multidisciplinary teams (engineers, designers, PM…) at Facebook. What have you created to give your designers the opportunity to meet and work together?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@jupelletier in order to keep the design team connected and collaborating, we typically have designers on the same team sit together in a pod, which makes it easy for people to share work and ideas. We've also started doing things like design sprints, where a team of designers will all jam on the same problem together and explore a wide range of different solutions. Sometimes this happens for a few hours, and sometimes we'll do one for a full week. Finally, we invest a lot in our onboarding--we have a program called "Design Camp" which is a 2-week introduction to design at Facebook--as well as in our tooling for designers to share work.
AKASH PATHAK
AKASH PATHAK@akashpathak06
Thanks for being here. Was wondering how development cycle works in fb. I mean how designers, developers, project manager etc works together to make anything live for users.
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@akashpathak06 I really like how at Facebook, the teams work together so cross-functionally. I'm a big believer that a diversity of opinions and feedback makes for a better product. At Facebook, designers, engineers and product managers collaborate really closely on defining goals and roadmaps. Designers also get a variety of feedback from everyone on their team, as well as the broader company (we typically have the whole company living on new features and products for a while before we launch them publicly.)
Mikkel I. Karlsen
Mikkel I. Karlsen@thekarlsen · Junior Consultant
@joulee @akashpathak06 Hey Julie. Could you elaborate on your roadmapping-methodology? Is it just a loose term for all strategic activities or is it actually a formal method?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@thekarlsen @akashpathak06 It's not a formal method; the goal is to make sure the team is aligned and knows what they're going to do for the next few months.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
@joulee Thanks for being here today. 🙌During your career to date, what has been your a) most challenging moment and how did you overcome it? b) proudest moment and why? c) most surprising moment?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@ems_hodge a) most challenging was learning to design for scale. When I first started at Facebook, we were a site for college/high school users, and people tended to be really excited when we launched new features or changed the site. It was also easier to intuit what people wanted because it was a much smaller demographic (and we who worked on Facebook were part of that demographic.) As we grew however, a big learning was that "we" were no longer the "average Facebook user." And we learned a lot of lessons about how to determine and introduce changes to the product. This is still a huge area of focus for us, particularly as more and more people are coming online in emerging markets. b) my proudest moment is actually quite recent. A few weeks, I did an offsite with my team, and we talked about the future and what we were excited to tackle in 2016 and beyond. Looking at the group of talented designers sitting in the room, I was just so proud and honored to get to wake up and work with these people. c) this also goes back to a, because there have been a few moments when we internally were super excited about something we were going to launch, and then we realized actually, people weren't looking at it the same way.
Samantha Zhang
Samantha Zhang@moyicat · Maker @ Graphiq.com, Inc.
@joulee @ems_hodge Great answer Julie. Design for scale is an interesting topic. At Facebook, do you guys currently focus on the broader / general features or tackle the users niche by niche? How do you breakdown your user base?
Phil Nguyen
Phil Nguyen@p_ngu · The Daily Water Cooler + Vettery
Hi Julie, thanks for taking the time to stop by! Your writing is great and a constant source of inspiration and knowledge. Two questions for ya: 1) Besides Facebook, what are your favorite places to catch up on news? And why? 2) What is a popular design element you see today that you think will not stand the test of time? (For instance, I used to see a lot of parallax scrolling and carousels but not so much anymore. Conversely, the hamburger icon has gotten a lot of hate in the past few years but seems to start becoming more accepted as people become more familiar with it.)
Florent Gosselin ✌
Florent Gosselin ✌@fgosselin · VP Product @ iAdvize
@joulee Hi Julie! How do you manage to attract new talents as a team manager? Facebook has a great reputation as a company, but the competition is also very strong in the Valley and in a global talents market. What is your method to detect and convince new talents to join your team and retain them? Thx a lot for your time :)
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@fgosselin I'm a big believer in being as transparent as possible about what it would be like to work at Facebook. I find the best candidates appreciate that, because at the end of the day what we both want is for the job to be a great fit for someone's skills, values, and interests.
Antoine Plu
Antoine Plu@antoineplu · Freelance Designer
Hey @joulee Thanks a lot for this AMA ! I've few questions for you: - Why did you become designer? - We all heard it's important to have a diversity inside your team, why is this so important? - And how to change this hiring process to encourage that?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@antoineplu 1) I was always fascinated by the part of building things that affected the people using it, and how they would feel or incorporate that thing into their lives. 2) I think it's hard to build something for the whole world (which is Facebook's mission) without having the builders be representative of that world. 3) This is important to us and we're doing a variety of things, from having folks at the company take "managing bias" training, to starting a Facebook University training program where we invite college freshmen from underrepresented groups, to making sure we're sourcing and connecting with candidates from all backgrounds.
Rohan Vijay
Rohan Vijay@vijay_rohan
Hi Julie! Thanks for inspiring us with your work at fb. Some people claim to be genius designers? Is there such a thing or process is the king? Would love to hear your views on it :)
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@vijay_rohan In my experience, every designer has strengths, and the best products tend to be the ones where a team of people can utilize their strengths to make the whole greater than what each could have individually done. So from that perspective, I'm a big believer of good process and collaboration being the critical element. It's like a basketball team--the best teams tend to have good chemistry and a wide utilization of each player's skills, not just one superstar.
Kevin Granger
Kevin Granger@kevin_granger · UI-UX Devsigner, Algolia
Hi @joulee How long you want to stay at Facebook? What would be your next challenge?
Tommy Kuntze
Tommy Kuntze@tmyknze · UX Designer
Hi Julie! I love reading your articles because they're so mindful – what's your process like for telling your stories and communicating the lessons you've learned to your team at fb?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@tmyknze lots of internal writing, as well! Every week I share out the great work my team is doing in a digest. We also have a bi-weekly designers all-hands where different people across the company share what they're working on and the lessons they've learned, which I find inspiring and helpful.
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Hi @joulee thanks so much for joining us today. Minimalism seems to be the favoured UI at the moment, surely there is only so far that minimalism will go before we reach nothing. Where do you think the next trend in design will be? Also in an article on medium on design in the next 10 years you say 'in 10 years at least half the tech products people use will be because of style and how it makes them feel rather than pure utility.' Would you not say that is the case now, not in 10 years?
Teresa Hammerl
Teresa Hammerl@colazionearoma · Socialmediapreneur
Hi Julie, I really love reading all of your articles! My question is: What's your favorite thing about Facebook?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@colazionearoma Hi Teresa! My favorite thing is definitely the people. I feel really lucky to work with some of the best in the world at what they do. I learn so much from them, and it's a privilege to get to build things for the world with this group.
Amir Pakzadian
Amir Pakzadian@amirp · Founder of Bia2, ex PM @ Medium & Amazon
Hi Joulee, if you were to give one advice to Product Managers what would it be?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@amirp Always keep the person you are building for in mind. What is the problem you are solving for him/her? Is it a real problem? What is the best way to solve that problem?
@joulee What was the designing process in the early days of Facebook like? Greetings!
Amir M. Zadeh
Amir M. Zadeh@amirmhzadeh · CEO ellope.com
Hi Julie, Do you agree that as a CEO of a small company I should put my full team on the most critical project every sprint rather than having them focused on various important tasks? Taking this approach I can be sure that we hit that goal the best we can and then we can move onto the next project. What are your thoughts?
Bilal
Bilal@91bilal · Product Designer @AmazonKindle
Thanks for your time @joulee 1. In the Facebook Design team, how is the composition/parity and the balance between full-stack Product Designers and Specialists (Interaction Designers, Motion Designers, Visual Artists)? 2. When you hire a designer at Facebook, how much does Design Education play a part in considering one's candidature? In your hiring equation, what are the weights of the variables : 'design education' 'work experience' 'skills' ? 3. And lastly, we love reading your articles. How do you take time out of your busy schedule for this? And what is that one tip that you'd like to share with us?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
Hey everyone! Thanks for tuning in, and for all your questions!
Jack Smith
Jack Smith@_jacksmith · Serial Entrepreneur & Startup Adviser
Julie - judging by your LinkedIn, you joined Facebook straight out of college. Given that you have built quite a profile in the design/tech community with your writings, I was wondering - how often do you get pitched by startups trying to recruit you?
Pierre-Marie Galite
Pierre-Marie Galite@tsunaze · mobile developer & advice giver
Hi Julie, i don't know how you guys work at Facebook, but when you are working on designing something new (or redesigning something old), how do you know it's time to stop the iteration, and say "This version is cool, let's leave it like that for a while"? This is coming from a developer who is constantly changing the design, thinking there is always a better way to do this UX etc.
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@tsunaze I think nothing is ever perfect in the world of design. I think the question to ask isn't, "is there a way this could be better?" (because the answer is always "yes") but rather "what is the most valuable thing we can do for people" which starts to get at a sense of priorities. If you are working on X, you can't also do Y, and perhaps Y is actually the more important thing to do. We try and get a sense of whether X or Y is more important by asking people through research, and getting insight into what's important for them.
Edison
Edison@edisongiang · Bitly – Visual Designer
@joulee @tsunaze If it adds value, ship it!
Samantha Zhang
Samantha Zhang@moyicat · Maker @ Graphiq.com, Inc.
Hi Julie, thanks for joining us today! Like a lot of people here, I love your articles on Medium! My questions is: How do you decide what to write on and how do you find time to blog?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@moyicat Thanks! I write on a schedule :P My friends who are professional writers have given me their secret for how they finish a book, which is: set a deadline/goal for yourself, and just do it, even if you don't feel inspired or even if that day, you think your writing sucks. So every three weeks, I block off a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday to sit down and just do it. As for what to write about, I think about what's been going through my mind, and I try not to put too much pressure on choosing the best topic. This is why my writing tends to be pretty varied--sometimes I write about design, sometimes I write about more personal stuff. But the main rule is: just write the words and hit "publish," and don't worry too much about whether everything feels "perfect."
Samantha Zhang
Samantha Zhang@moyicat · Maker @ Graphiq.com, Inc.
@joulee @moyicat Thanks Julie! That's very helpful!
neeharika sinha
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello @joulee Great to meet you here. Which are your favorite Apps with the best user interface. If I build an app and want quick user interface feedback, which is the best way to get it (I want to know how to get most design centric focus group to provide feedback)? And lastly, favorite ramen place in San Francisco :)?
Brendan Beirne
Brendan Beirne@brendanbeirne · Product / strategy, Joojoo
What's your favorite ramen spot in the bay area?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@brendanbeirne Santouka. It's in this Japanese supermarket called Mitsuwa in Santa Clara. It's *amazing* I was just there last Saturday. You do have to wait like, an hour, even at 3pm, but it's worth it :D
Theoharis Dimarhos
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi Julie! How do you think Facebook is thinking about online schools/education? What key things would you look for in an online school for your child's education?
Hey @joulee! I'm really curious how you and the design team at Facebook view and approach sound, and where you see its place within Facebook's products?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@lexkon We have a great in-house Sound Design team! This is the team that previously did sounds for a lot of well-known, cool products on the market prior to coming to Facebook. Sound, similar to color, typography or illustration, is another tool when we talk about design to craft the best experience for people. We think sound can enhance people's understanding of what's going on and also be a little bit delightful :)
Nitesh Kumar
Nitesh Kumar@niteshk5
Hello @joulee, Thanks for being here today. I am a big fan of your inspiring articles. Who are some of the designers whose work you admire since the beginning of your design career?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@niteshk5 I'm inspired by the thinking and ideas of Dieter Rams, Don Norman, the Pixar team, Bret Victor, just to name a few.
Sarah Mote
Sarah Mote@sarahmote_ · Junior Product Designer
@joulee what would be your best advice for recent graduates of Industrial/Product Design in order to land their first job? Personally having worked during my final year of study and also won awards for my work, I am still struggling to land a job. I have recently just moved to London from Australia in hope that I will land a job.
Evelyn Chin
Evelyn Chin@evelynhchin
Hi Julie! Love reading your medium articles. What books/publications would you recommend that all designers read?
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@evelynhchin The Design of Everyday Things is my favorite. Recently I've also really enjoyed Creativity, Inc.
Suhaila
Suhaila@suhailaskb · Product Designer, Dialogue, Kik
Hi Julie! Thanks for doing this live chat :) I have 3 questions: What's the best career advice you've heard? What advice would you give someone who's interested in a career like yours (working in Product Design and aiming for a Director position down the line)? And if you were to go back and do it all again, what's something you would change and why? Thanks!
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@suhailaskb 1) What would you do if you weren't afraid? This is poster we've hung on the walls across campus. It really resonates with me. 2) Keep making and learning. The best thing you can do as a product designer is to put your work out there, and get feedback from others. 3) I would tell a younger me to ask for help more often. I've been lucky to be surrounded with amazingly talented designers and builders, and I could have learned so much more from them earlier in my career if I hadn't been afraid to ask.
vinay kanamarlapudi
vinay kanamarlapudi@vinay32724 · Maker of StealthTap Keyboard
@joulee How does Design team and dev team collaborate for assets , strings , fonts , color codes .In specific do u guys have a tool to make communication gap less and make both teams more productive
Christian
Christian@christianrjo · Product Manager, Dropbox
Hi Julie, can you please share with use some resources (books, blogs, articles) you read daily about design, design strategy, etc?
Marko Vuletic
Marko Vuletic@markoxvee
Hey @joulee thanks for taking the time for this AMA! What is the most important thing you've learned in your career? Or if I rephrase it, what is the single most important advice you'd give to yourself when you were just starting out? Thanks :)
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@markoxvee don't tie your design work to your ego. The best designers I know are passionate about learning new things, are not afraid to show their work, and do not take criticism personally. It's all in the name of making the best things we can.
Joe Thomas
Joe Thomas@joethomas_x · Head of Product, Loom
@joulee Just to get into your thinking process a bit, how would you improve this Q&A session with Product Hunt? @rrhoover :)
Stephen Petoniak
Stephen Petoniak@p370_n14k · UX designer in Buffalo NY
Hi Julie, I've been working on lots of digital calendars as of late, and was wondering what kind of inspiration/process helped inform the calendar in facebook? As well as what you believe the users of facebooks calendar's biggest needs are, and how your design helped to solve a problem for your users?
Hoan Do
Hoan Do@hoandesign · UX Designer, PPCLINK MOBILE
@joulee Video war between Facebook, Youtube and Snapchat is very interesting. I saw Facebook did many experiments to know more about user behaviors with Slingshot, Riff or Mention Live Video. What did you guys learn from them?
Louie Penaflor
Louie Penaflor@restlessthinker
@joulee - What process did you put in place when you learned that "you" were no longer the "average Facebook user", to best introduce changes into the product?
Andrew So
Andrew So@andrewdixonso
Hey @joulee, I'm a big fan of your articles on Medium. Who are the people (managers, mentors, friends, etc.) that have had the greatest impact on your approach to design and why?
Daniel.
Daniel.@danielrakh · Product Designer | iOS Developer
Thanks for your time @joulee! If you could only choose one, what would be the best way/tool for an unknown designer to showcase their work and design thinking today? Medium? Dribbble? Personal website? Going to meet ups and meeting other designers IRL? Also, just wanted to let you know that I've gotten a lot of inspiration from you to not be afraid to share your work with the world. It actually pushed me to share some of my design thinking through Medium as well, and I'm really happy I did. Thank you!
Guy Gunaratne
Guy Gunaratne@guygunaratne · Co-Founder, Product & Design @Storygami
@joulee hey Julie! Could you talk a little about how and what considerations a large company like Facebook makes when considering working with smaller startups (if at all?) and how makers can approach individuals like yourself for mentorship or insight?
Karl
Karl@therealcoelho
What's it like working with Mark?
Vladimir
Vladimir@vladimirkusnezo · Founder of LoveMarketing.de
Hi Julie! What is your best design advice for a blog? ;)
Nikhileswar Jangala
Nikhileswar Jangala@nikhiljangala
@joulee Thanks for being here! :) What's your goto prototyping tool? Origami? Framer? Principle? Flinto? Or something else?
Fredrik Olovsson
Fredrik Olovsson@mrolovsson · Developer, loving #tech4good
@joulee, what does the schedule of an average day look like for you? Thanks for being here :-)
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@mrolovsson Thanks Fredrik! I usually get in at 8:30 or 9:00. Then, I typically have a bunch of different meetings--some of them to look at and discuss new design work, some to catch up with individual people on my team and figure out how I can help them, some cross-functional meetings to make sure design, engineering, and product are aligned on our strategy and the problem we're solving, and some to plan for growing and scaling a great team. I usually leave the office at around 6:00 to hang out with my family the rest of the night.
Alin Meceanu
Alin Meceanu@mece · Product Designer
Hi @joulee and thanks for being here! I'm trying to find a solution for this problem: As our product is growing bigger and bigger by each month, and our backlog is still full with new features, I am trying to see what is the best way to start with a redesign that will allow an easy way to add all of them in the future, without having to make every time major design changes. Have you ever had this problem? Maybe some pro tips? Thanks!
David Bernegger
David Bernegger@davidbernegger
@joulee Heya Julie, Could you elaborate on the process of animation in design? In comparison with other networks (etc. tumblr or google) you use animation very sparingly throughout the entire website / News Feed. Do you think that animation is too distracting from the actual content that the users post or just unnecessary for modern design. I've seen a few animations on the iOS app but nothing much here. Hope you have a nice day :) PS: Any idea when Instant Articles will be released worldwide? Kinda looking forward to seeing that in my Newsfeed but it seems the progress on that is slower than I hoped. xx David
Edison
Edison@edisongiang · Bitly – Visual Designer
@joulee Hi Ms. Zhuo -- how are you doing today? What are your goals with VR in the Facebook app for the future? Do you have goals of incorporating architect designers through Oculus? I firmly believe retail will be revolutionized by 2020 and VR will be a gateway for another league of digital shopping, spacial experience and immersive apps.
Asymmetrica Labs
Asymmetrica Labs@asymmetricalabs · Asymmetrica Labs, SF
@joulee Thanks for being here. I'm curious about how much of the "Top Stories" default vs "Most Recent" was a design decision, and what design considerations go into each mode of the FB News Feed. Thx!
Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo@joulee
@asymmetricalabs we found a majority of people prefer to see top stories, so that's why it's the default. That said, we're continually working to make sure every person gets the most relevant content that they want to see.
Ali Ahmed
Ali Ahmed@aliahm081 · Mechanical Engineering Student
@joulee I appreciate your being here. Who have been your mentors professionally and personally? What's it like to work with Mark (Z.)?
Joe Thomas
Joe Thomas@joethomas_x · Head of Product, Loom
@joulee What book had the biggest impact on the way you operate as a designer? How about as a manager?
Ella Spin
Ella Spin@ellaspin · Design Lead, Kik
Hey @joulee ! I have a couple of questions: 1) What tools do you use to collaborate and gather feedback with eachother as a design team that works accross various products? 2) What do you think is the single most important thing about leading a team of designers as the team scales?
Sarah Mote
Sarah Mote@sarahmote_ · Junior Product Designer
@joulee do you like guacamole? If yes, how do you make it and what do you enjoy it with?
Nitesh Kumar
Nitesh Kumar@niteshk5
Hello @joulee, Thanks for answering our questions. I have another question for you: Dribbble, as we know it, is a tool for designers to share what they are working on but for many designers, the pretty pixels they share have become their "work". What is your take on this dribbblisation of design?
Michael Lee
Michael Lee@mikehlee_
Hi @joulee! 1. Do you have a new favorite place to go for ramen in the bay area? I think you answered this question before on DN but was wondering if your favorite has changed lol 2. Does your team have a process for teaching each other new skills? For example my team and I try to do a once a week or bi-weekly sessions on learning Framer and other skills, does your team have some sort of designated time for this?
Wilbur Chen
Wilbur Chen@wilbtweet · Design at Centro
Hi @joulee! Thanks for doing this! Do you think more junior designers should focus on practicing certain areas of design (e.g. visual, interaction, etc.) or slowly try them all simultaneously?