Julie Zhuo

Product Design Director at Facebook

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 09, 2015


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@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@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@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@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@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@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 Hodgins@ems_hodge · 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@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@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@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 ✌@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@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@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@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@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@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 · UI-UX Devsigner, Algolia
Hi @joulee How long you want to stay at Facebook? What would be your next challenge?
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@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@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@colazionearoma · Socialmediapreneur
Hi Julie, I really love reading all of your articles! My question is: What's your favorite thing about Facebook?
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@amirp · Sr PM @ Amazon / Founder of Bia2.com
Hi Joulee, if you were to give one advice to Product Managers what would it be?
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@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@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@joulee
Hey everyone! Thanks for tuning in, and for all your questions!
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@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@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@edisongiang · Bitly – Visual Designer
@joulee @tsunaze If it adds value, ship it!
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@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@moyicat · Maker @ Graphiq.com, Inc.
@joulee @moyicat Thanks Julie! That's very helpful!