This article was published on July 3, 2017

5 UX tips from Facebook’s VP of Design

5 UX tips from Facebook’s VP of Design
Lauren Gilmore
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Lauren Gilmore

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Julie Zhuo, VP of product design for Facebook, has been at the company since 2006. Since joining, she’s helped grow the service from eight million college and high school kids to over one billion people worldwide.

How’d she do it? 

Do more

Julie is a huge proponent for getting your hands dirty. When asked her advice on how to start out in the biz, Julie replied:

The best advice I have is just to do more. Nothing beats getting your hands dirty and just designing, making, building, crafting, tweaking, you get the idea

And don’t be afraid to simply try….

Try new things out. Try working on new things that make you feel a bit uncomfortable. Try designing a logo, try to design an interactive UI using a new design tool… Figure out what you like and what you’re good at.

Formal education isn’t a must

Thanks to the advent of technology, it’s now easier than ever to study at your own pace, and turn your hobby into a paying gig.

Whether it’s coding, design, writing, or underwater basket weaving… you don’t necessarily need a college education to learn.

I didn’t have a formal background in design. I think it’s same with coding (or anything, really)–obviously super helpful to be able to take classes on the theory and discipline, but the bulk of the learning happens through doing. Just get in there are start designing some stuff, and share it with other people for critique so you can learn and get better.

If you’re interested in seeing what Julie’s ideal design curriculum is, she wrote a blog post about it. 

And once you’re making waves as a designer, you’ll need to find a developer to kickass right along side you. Her ideal developer? 

  • Sees us on the same team.
  • Cares about the user experience.
  • Cares about performance.
  • May push back on implementing features, but the features they commit to are done well.
  • Writes maintainable code that anticipates future iteration.

The importances of prioritizing

When building a product or feature, it’s absolutely imperative you always remember your end user. You can lost in the details, but never lose focus of the your purpose. Especially when you’re in the thick of things.

Prioritize features by being clear about who we’re building for, and what we hope they’ll be able to do with the feature. If we’re developing a product that we think everyone can use, we try and identify the things that we think the most number of people will find valuable.

And don’t forget to research…

We do a lot of research to help us make sure we’re on the right track. We’ve learned that the right defaults are really critical – [but] most people aren’t going to go digging around in menus or customizing options… Of course we need to provide those features, but then we may provide them in a way that is accessible but not so front-and-center in the UI.

For a look inside UX design, being a female in tech, and why Facebook has that pesky separate messenger, check out the full AMA with Julie Zhuo. And for more AMAs with the world’s most influential thought leaders in business, design and technology, check out our upcoming and past sessions

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