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Designing for a quarter billion people – Design at Facebook

28th August 09

The firehose that is the social web pumps out thousands of links, articles and potential insights every day and we often find ourselves missing strong, provocative thinking.

This is something we stumbled across in the last 24 hours which is worthy of yanking out of the river and saving (if I was going to stretch the analogy I’d say ‘saving in our little Labs lake’ but I’m not prepared to say that).

It’s a fantastic short piece about the design process at Facebook. Simply called: ‘Design at Facebook’. We found it compelling not only because of the insight it provides into the design process of such an important interface as Facebook, but also because it’s not about theory, about speculation, about supposition . . . it’s about doing.

The four key hypotheses outlined by the author, Luke Wroblewski, are as follows:

1) Designers need to be there start to ship: from strategy to launch. This is different from other companies.

2) Share early and share often. Sharing with the team and users helps make the design better.

3) Get your hands dirty. Important that you understand how Web code works. All designers write a bit of HTML, CSS, and maybe PHP.

4) Don’t fall in love. Software is impermanent –it is always changing and you need to accept that.

Resonating with us and challenging us right now are the following additional points Wroblewski makes:

- There is no creative director at Facebook (we find this particularly challenging, and wonder how processes work with the speed they clearly do without the focus that a decision-maker provides).

- There is a culture of continual internal sharing between and across the group, and they utilize software to help this happen more smoothly and inclusively.

- In his view, Designers tend to err on side of over simplicity. Engineers tend to err on side of more functionality.

- The culture sounds exhausting: ‘More than ever our work is never done’.

Excellent stuff, plenty for us to learn from. Have a read of the full post at: Design at Facebook.

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