It was “San Francisco Design Week” last week (06/16/2014 – 06/20/2014). I went to the Twitter Studio Tour, enjoyed a talk from Mike Davidson, Twitter’s VP of Design, and got to talk to a few awesome designers. Here are my take-aways:
Currently, Twitter has 65 designers and researchers (big team!). Each of every one of them has plenty to do — a surprise for those who think Twitter just handles tweets and nothing else;). In fact, Twitter does lots of things, from Ads to Analytics, designers are needed in every corner. It was great to get to know about lots of projects from this studio tour.
At Twitter, designers are responsible from the very beginning of the product strategy to laying out every pixel. Some people are better at interaction design, and some at visual designs, so it’s important to balance skills when put together a team, so that every one can do their best.
Remote working seems not very popular at Twitter, although in the tech world this is common. They found it more efficient with people work together — just grab the person you need from the office, instead of pinging each other back and forth online. When there are Internet connection problems, it makes communication worse.
There are pros and cons, of course, with such a big design team: it’s easy to learn from others, and use peer reviews help each other grow; it gives people the ability to mentor/get mentored without involving managers; it’s a good environment for people to share achievements with others — you are not necessarily to launch something, you can help others launch projects; finally, it’s more flexible to let people work on what they want. However, it’s hard to track what everyone is doing, and it’s costly. Designers should also find opportunities to sharpen their skills other than just design.
Here are some design principles from Twitter:
- Understand the problems first: designers should not jump into solutions (design) at once. Do homework, do research, first understand who’s using the product, how they are using it and what the problems are.
- Every pixel matters — especially on mobile, because of the limited real estate.
- Every second counts — Twitter is an app for people on-the-go, it’s critical to make action short, fast
- Respect user attention, let them focus on what they do and facilitate it
- Twitter goes with you, there’s no expert users.
- Refine relentlessly, nothing is perfect.
- Produce best experience that we are proud of.