Julie Zhuo: How a Facebook Designer Thinks [Entire Talk] | Summary and Q&A

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November 30, 2016
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Stanford eCorner
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Julie Zhuo: How a Facebook Designer Thinks [Entire Talk]

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Summary

In this video, the speaker talks about her journey from being a student at Stanford to working at Facebook and leading the design team. She discusses the importance of understanding the people problem that the product is trying to solve, validating the problem with evidence, and setting measurable goals to determine the success of the product. She also shares examples of how these principles were applied in the development of features like Groups, Reactions, and Facebook Live.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the speaker's experience at Stanford shape her career?

The speaker mentioned that she was inspired by the stories of successful entrepreneurs who had graduated from Stanford, which motivated her to pursue a career in Silicon Valley. She also participated in the Mayfield Fellows Program, which exposed her to the world of entrepreneurship and allowed her to intern at a startup.

Q: What influenced the speaker's decision to pursue a career in design?

The speaker initially started as an engineer at Facebook but ended up in the design team by chance. She was introduced to a group of designers on her first day and found the combination of design and coding exciting. She realized that design allowed her to understand the experience of users and think about how they interact with the products being built.

Q: What were some of the products the speaker worked on at Facebook?

The speaker mentioned working on features like Photos, Newsfeed, the Facebook platform, Profile, and Timeline. She leads a team that works on design for all of the core features of the Facebook application, including catching up with friends, sharing, watching videos, and joining groups.

Q: What are the three questions that the speaker's team at Facebook asks when developing a product?

The first question is "What people problem are we trying to solve?" The team focuses on understanding the problem from the perspective of the users and framing it in a human and straightforward way. The second question is "How do we know this is a real problem?" The team looks for evidence through qualitative and quantitative research to validate the problem and determine if it's worth solving. The third question is "How will we know if we solved this problem?" The team sets measurable goals and metrics to determine the success of the product.

Q: Can you give an example of a valid people problem statement?

One example is the desire to connect with others who have similar interests but not knowing where to find them. The speaker mentioned attending a conference where influential bloggers and journalists who were mothers expressed the need for a community of other new moms to share experiences and seek advice.

Q: How did the speaker validate the need for a solution to the problem of finding communities and groups?

The team at Facebook looked at data that showed a significant number of group memberships were initiated through the "Groups You Should Join" feature. They also conducted focus groups and talked to users who expressed the challenge of finding like-minded communities.

Q: How did the speaker validate the need for a solution to the problem of expressing emotions beyond liking on Facebook?

The team at Facebook looked at how people were currently expressing their feelings through comments, stickers, and emojis. They also observed that the absence of a dislike button led to requests for an alternative way to express emotions other than just liking a post.

Q: How did the speaker measure the success of the groups and reactions features on Facebook?

For groups, the team looked at the number of meaningful joins, indicating that users were actively engaging with the groups they joined. For reactions, the team measured the adoption rate compared to previous tools like stickers and short comments. They also assessed the universality of the selected reactions and the positive impact on the poster's experience based on user surveys and feedback.

Q: Has the speaker discussed the success of the Facebook Live feature?

Yes, the speaker mentioned that the success of the Facebook Live feature was measured by the number of repeat broadcasters and the viewership of live videos. They also wanted to ensure that the content being broadcasted was interesting and that the experience was enjoyable for both the broadcaster and the viewer.

Q: How does the speaker suggest approaching the development of a product or feature?

The speaker suggests asking the three questions mentioned earlier in the process: 1) What people problem are we trying to solve? 2) How do we know this is a real problem? 3) How will we know if we solved this problem? By answering these questions, teams can stay focused on the needs of users, validate their assumptions, and set measurable goals for success.

Takeaways

The speaker emphasizes the importance of understanding the people problem being solved, validating the problem with evidence, and setting measurable goals for success. By keeping these principles in mind, teams can develop products and features that are meaningful and valuable to users. Additionally, it is crucial to continuously iterate and learn from the results to further improve the user experience.

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