What I Hadn’t Fully Internalised Before I Started At Facebook: Director Of Product Design

What I Hadn’t Fully Internalised Before I Started At Facebook: Director Of Product Design
SHARE
THIS



What are the challenges in designing a product which is used by 1.65 billion monthly active users regardless of location and connectivity? Jon Lax, the director of product design at Facebook in San Francisco, chats with B&T about challenges in designing for mobile and why brands should understand the shift to mobile.

Lax and his team of 70 designers across three offices are responsible for a range of products including events, pages, products like check-ins and payments, over the past year he oversaw profiles and search. “We are designing for a very large community, it’s about trying to understand what problems people have and then getting our products to help solve that problem.”

Take the check-in product for example, people in Australia use it as an ego-boost to brag about where they are. But for some people, the same product is used as a safety measure to alert people where they were last seen.  The check-in product works the same for everyone in the world, but the way people use it is very different. 

“One thing I hadn’t fully internalised before I started working at Facebook is when you design at scale there are so many things to take into consideration. You don’t want a system that while it may look really beautiful and rich, most people won’t be able to run that- it will drain their battery, run up their data cost. All that person wanted to do was connect with their friends and family, so things that get in the way – while it may be gratifying for a creative professional isn’t the great for people.

“The Myspace days where you could design anything, it was so chaotic that any time you visited Myspace on the browser it would crash. If you think about the platforms which are on a global scale now, they have to constrain layouts in order to enable usage. We’re about to design something that works for everyone.”

For Lax and his team a ‘job well done’ is when people don’t even notice the design product. “I think a lot of people’s reaction is ‘Facebook isn’t designed’,  but it’s actually heavily designed. There are tons of hours put into that interaction- but it’s not designed in a way we think of capital ‘D’ design where it’s up front and center.”

MOBILE

According to Facebook, Australians are spending 43 per cent of the average day on their mobile devices and 50 per cent of all traffic going to publishers is coming from mobile.

“If you look at design of the internet from 1994 to 2016 it goes through a series of phases. We’re now in a phase called the ‘platform era’, where the move to mobile has concentrated our energy into a number of platforms. This requires designers to think very differently, the chances brands can just create a website and generate traffic is difficult, not impossible but difficult. You’re better to think about how you operate inside the platforms where the distribution exists.”

The importance of mobile has impacted the way that Facebook designs: “We design everything from mobile, we don’t even look at desktop design. Prior to me coming to Facebook Mark (Zuckerberg) requested that all work should be shown to him on mobile screens. We only design in mobile, when we look at prototype they’re always mobile.”

According to Sarah Personette, vice president of Facebook’s global business marketing, advertisers have to think about new ways to connect with a consumer in a mobile world. Check out here opinion here.

For Lax, the shift to mobile means that designers need to reshape their thinking about where to concentrate their energy. “When I think of my friends who still work in the agency world I say to them you really need to get out of this idea that you make websites. It’s not a growth business anymore. It’s a technological shift that has occurred; you have to understand how to design for the mobile world.

“Sometimes that means giving up a lot of control to be able to distribute the things that you want, so for example I think that brands that are deeply utilizing Instagram and Facebook are going to have a lot of success versus the brands that are trying to build websites and getting people to move from them. It’s harder and harder to do that, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. But it doesn’t work like it did in 2008.

“The mobile web is not something which is working, there is a variety of forces as to why it doesn’t work, the primary one is Apple wants out to work in apps. When we look at app usage it’s concentrated in about seven apps with your phone, about 84 per cent of your time will be spent in some seven apps in our phone. Which seven changes from person to person, but what it really means is a small amount of app which are going to get a large amount of your attention, Facebook and Instagram are two of those.

“If you can’t be one of those seven apps on the phone you’re going to have a really difficult time to get people’s attention. You have to be inside those apps where people are spending their time and be valuable to them inside of that.”

Lax will be talking at Semi-Permanent event, a part of Vivid Sydney. Semi-Permanent is a two-day event which brings together internationally renowned artists and creative icons to explore the power and future of design.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Advertising Standards Bureau einsights Online ads Project Clever Buoy

Latest News

Flybuys And The Trade Desk Help Connect Online And Offline Sales With New Partnership
  • Technology

Flybuys And The Trade Desk Help Connect Online And Offline Sales With New Partnership

Flybuys and The Trade Desk have announced a first-of-its-kind partnership in Australia to provide advertisers with unprecedented insight into the impact of their online advertising campaigns on offline and online sales.   This partnership marks the first time that Unpacked by Flybuys’ de-identified sales conversion data, from Flybuys’ more than eight million members, will be made available […]

Young woman watching TV in the room
  • Partner Content

Household Targeting’s Role In The Cookieless Future

In this piece, Tim Sleath, VP of Product Management at VDX.tv, discusses household targeting’s role alongside other identity solutions and how advertisers can create an effective household strategy for their campaigns. As the advertising industry plans for the removal of third-party cookie support and moves toward adopting more privacy-centric solutions, marketers will need to identify […]

Partner Content

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Highsnobiety Partners With Citizens Of Culture To Help Lead Its Media Partnerships In Australia
  • Media

Highsnobiety Partners With Citizens Of Culture To Help Lead Its Media Partnerships In Australia

Culture-leading publisher Highsnobiety continues to evolve its local operations with the appointment of Citizens of Culture as its strategic partner across media operations within Australia.  Highsnobiety is a premium global brand dedicated to cultural pioneers, with work spanning across digital platforms, print media, documentaries, cutting edge events, a shopping platform and a full service creative […]

Investigation Reveals That Amazon Destroys Thousands Of Dollars Of Unsold Stock, Including Laptops, TVs And Face Masks
  • Technology

Investigation Reveals That Amazon Destroys Thousands Of Dollars Of Unsold Stock, Including Laptops, TVs And Face Masks

An investigation by British broadcaster ITV has found that Amazon is destroying millions of items in unsold or returned stock. The report specifically focuses on one of the 24 warehouses the company has in the UK. According to ITV News, the destroyed items are largely unused and new, either returned items or those which never […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Witchery Partners With GlamCorner To Boost Subscription Shopping
  • Media

Witchery Partners With GlamCorner To Boost Subscription Shopping

Australian fashion brand Witchery has partnered with B Corp GlamCorner as part of GlamCorner’s subscription box offering as the demand for everyday essentials soars. This partnership marks another milestone for the Australian fashion industry towards becoming more circular and introducing more paths to reduce textile waste. Customers nationally will be able to rent more of […]

Curry Club For COVID-19 Relief, Powered By UnLtd, Challenges AdLand To Raise $100,000
  • Marketing
  • Media

Curry Club For COVID-19 Relief, Powered By UnLtd, Challenges AdLand To Raise $100,000

The media, marketing and creative industries are being encouraged to host their own ‘Curry Club for COVID’ before 30th June to help meet the ambitious $100k target set by its organisers. Curry Club for COVID, which was conceived by long-time adtech executive Peter Bray, sales director at Impact, and is powered by industry social purpose organisation […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
UnLtd’s ‘Goals for Good’ Soccer Tournament Celebrates 10 Years
  • Media

UnLtd’s ‘Goals for Good’ Soccer Tournament Celebrates 10 Years

The UnLtd Cup is returning for its tenth consecutive year, marking a decade of soccer shenanigans that’s raised nearly $500,000 for children’s mental health charity, KidsXpress. On July 22-23rd, 28 teams from across the industry will battle it out on the soccer field in the two-day tournament at Sydney University Sports and Fitness Centre, Darlington. […]

Mobile Pnone Shopping Online With A Debit Card
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Ultra Commerce Acquires Vesta eCommerce

Australian-bred company Ultra Commerce has acquired New Zealand-based company Vesta eCommerce, a global software business providing leading product data management solutions. The recent acquisition is a significant move for the business, which is Australian born, owned, and headquartered, but has built out a global presence as it pursues rapid growth in the eCommerce market. Connecting […]