How Facebook's Design Process Has Changed Since Inception

How has the Facebook product design process changed since it was first introduced? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Ben Blumenfeld, Co-Director at Designer Fund, former Design Lead at Facebook, on Quora.

I left Facebook in 2012 so I can only speak to how it evolved over the first five years or so I was there. The reality is, early on we didn't really have a design process. We had some principles many of our designers bought into like "don't wireframe" and "use small teams of designers/engineers without PMs". However, depending on your product, the process might be very different from one team to the other.

For example, if Mark had a personal interest in the product you were designing, he might walk by and discuss the progress with you a few times a week. However, if you were trying to get something built that wasn't on the official roadmap, you might hide out in a room with an engineer or two and secretly work on your product until it was ready (you know who you are!).

As the team grew, however, the more organic approach failed to scale. More designers were adding their own visual flourishes that created inconsistency in the product, and designers grew frustrated as various stakeholders would swoop in with feedback at inopportune moments. One solution to this was having a couple of designers articulate our "ideal process" for shipping a product. It included what a typical team structure could look like, when specific reviews might happen, and how you might ship and iterate your product. The point wasn't to have every product follow this process but to at least get the team to agree on some baseline framework that was a point of departure. Even today I recommend teams early on define how they want products to get shipped to minimize thrash and frustration.

Around 2011, as the team and product grew, the process got a lot more robust (and rightly so). It was at this point that we added legal checkpoints, checkpoints with the customer support team, check ins with the internationalization team, formal Zuck reviews, and so on. To Facebook's credit, even then we shipped products quite quickly compared to many products/companies of our size.

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