Notes from Industry

The Last UI Design Transformation: Web to Mobile

When the transition from web to mobile occurred (more than a decade ago) I remember feeling confused as a designer. Exactly what…

I’m looking at my favorites list on my phone. I see my mother’s name there among all the people I contact most often. Margaret McKinney. If I press the number right now then her phone will ring. I have her phone; so it will be a call to myself. I asked her what the passcode was the last time we were together; when she was 105 pounds and could no longer leave her bed.

So many of the interactions we had were about the logistics. Logistics are safe for me. Logistics are black and white and I can concretely say…

How AI designers are bridging the gap between user needs and technological capabilities.

About 4 months ago, I began managing the product design organization for Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence team. We are a central organization that provides AI services for Facebook, Instagram, and other Facebook apps. We also work to develop new experiences, powered by AI.

Before joining the Artificial Intelligence team I had been reading a lot about AI and was really excited about the idea of working in an emerging space. I’d been working on mature mobile and web apps for the last 10 years, so being in a position of learning and ambiguity felt really energizing. I also felt a responsibility…

I’ve been giving and getting feedback for a while now, as an employee and as an organizational leader. I have to say I don’t think I’ve always been particularly good at processing my own feedback. Over the past few years, I’ve learned to use a repeatable process when receiving feedback, and coaching others toward processing theirs. Using this approach helps me to make sure that the feedback given is addressed in healthy and productive way.

Step 1: Internalizing the feedback

When a person first gets feedback on an area to improve, the gut reaction is to become defensive. This is totally normal and expected. When…

Building your portfolio, getting noticed, and interviewing successfully at tech companies

I recently spoke to a group of students who wanted advice on how to build their portfolios, to stand out to recruiters, and successfully interview at tech companies. Below is the advice I gave which I hope is useful to other designers out there as well. I know it can be hard to build experience and get noticed, especially early in your career.

How should I design my online portfolio?

Make it simple
When I was in my first years as a designer I spent a lot of time thinking about the design of my portfolio website. I thought of it as a design project in itself. I…

One of the most common questions I get from designers is, “How did you convince your company to invest in design?” I usually answer that I didn’t, and to an extent that’s true. I’ve more often been asked to work on large design projects that have already been identified, rather than making the case for them myself. Dodging the question isn’t helpful to the courageous designers out there looking to influence their company roadmaps, though. I salute you and want to help where I can. …

April 4th was equal pay day, and it made me think about how frustrating it is that many women still earn less than men for doing the same jobs. Wondering what I could do to make (even a small) an impact on this issue, I thought it might be helpful to share the advice I’ve given and received about compensation.

One fear I have is that by writing this I will be perceived as saying, “Women of the world, the pay gap is your fault. Just start implementing my suggestions and the problem will disappear!” The pay gap is neither…

I’ve been a people manager for over 10 years, but it’s only in the more recent roles I’ve held that I’ve approached team management with the explicit goal of making myself obsolete. If I’m honest, prior to that my focus was largely about earning more scope and responsibility personally. As a person who has recently joined a new company, and gone through the journey of making myself obsolete in my prior role, I thought I would share my experiences: the joys, the sorrows, and why I feel the process is so fulfilling.

What is the process of making yourself obsolete?

Building the product

As a design leader, the process of making…

It’s interesting to me that whether I’m talking with designers or business leaders, I often hear variations of the same question: “What does it take to make great design outcomes happen?” CEOs and business leaders ask the question because they want to know how much they need to invest in design relative to other priorities. Designers ask the question because they want to know how to sell a design initiative to business leaders.

I’ve been lucky enough to build design teams that have achieved some truly great outcomes, either by creating new products or transforming existing products from good to…

Adjust your management style throughout the design process to get better outcomes.

Amanda Linden,
Head of Design, Asana

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I enjoy managing creative people, and how managing creatives is different from managing those in less creatively intense roles. One thing that I observe is that what creative people need from me as a mentor and coach changes drastically throughout their design cycle. Generally speaking, there are 5 phases to the design cycle: discovery, defining, design, development, and deployment. Given that each team I work with is at a different phase in their creative process, it’s important for me to tune my style several…

Amanda Linden

Director of Product Design at Facebook, previously Head of Design & Brand at Asana.

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