Which FAANG is better for designers?

Intuit / Designcanary
Jul 27, 2018 24 Comments

I’m specifically curious to hear about the topics below:
• what is the the design culture like?
• what is design’s place in the org?
• do you believe your work has a strong impact?
• do you get recognized for your work?
• is it design-led or is design an afterthought?
• how empowered do you feel in taking risks?
• are you truly doing innovative work or just a pixel/small feature pusher?
• what is career growth like?
• what is work life balance like?
• what’s compensation like?

Discuss.

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TOP 24 Comments
  • Amazon / DesignD371Gn
    To address questions about Amazon design: it’s a culture of “good enough is way more than enough,” as compared to Apple, where good enough is nowhere near sufficient.

    Amazon’s focus has, is, and will always be on delivering things faster and cheaper at a lower price. Notice how nearly all Amazon innovations revolve around that—Prime, Prime Now, Prime Air, Go, Flex, etc. Design doesn’t register.

    Most UX designers at Amazon suck at visual design, which they’ll justify by saying data never proves that exceptional visual design is “worth it.” And that’s sorta the crux of the problem: design isn’t seen as being worth that much. It’s not regarded as worthless. It’s just...not regarded.

    Then to other specifics, the design/component library is ugly and is used poorly. AWS, which would benefit from great design and used to have pockets of really cool work in it, is mired in an increasingly bureaucratic process in service of another dog-shit design language.

    There are talented designers there in Devices, Kindle, and a handful of associated teams, but they rarely are given power to do much.

    It’s just disappointing, really. Such a smart, innovative company that shrugs at doing anything stylish, engaging, or magical.
    Jul 28, 20186
    • Intuit / Designcanary
      OP
      This is the best answer I’ve seen in awhile. Thank you for sharing. I don’t know many designers at Amazon but some of the points you brought up were things I’ve suspected or been concerned about because the web and mobile experiences leave a lot to be desired. I thought Kindle paperwhite was actually one of the better experiences

      One more point I’m wondering about: Do you see this same mentality apply to devices? (Alexa, kindle fire, etc)?
      Jul 29, 2018
    • Amazon / DesignD371Gn
      I think with Devices they try a lot harder—because most of the devices are pretty well designed. The Echo line is all thoughtfully done, and Kindle is generally strong. That’s partially why I think you see better interface work for those things, as well.

      I view Amazon as a place to go learn. As one of those people who worked for small, unknown companies, Amazon gave me a shot to join something huge. They responded when others did not. But it’s hard for any designer to come in there and accomplish a lot, even in the healthier parts of the company you still run into the same turf wars and toxicity that the place is known for.
      Jul 29, 2018
    • WordStream / DesignuvaM26
      how much experience did you have before applying and getting hired at Amazon? is there any design at their NYC offices?
      Aug 2, 2018
    • Amazon / DesignD371Gn
      Ten years total. Hired at L6, there are designers in the NYC offices.

      Just keep in mind, Amazon doesn’t hire for great design talent and output, they hire for being Amazonian and having enough design ability. I would not put it at the top of your list.
      Aug 2, 2018
    • Capital One / DesignETF189
      @D371Gn what do you mean by Amazonian?
      Aug 4, 2018
    • WordStream / DesignuvaM26
      ah. where would you suggest then? I want to move back home to NYC next year, I'll have about 2 years of experience.
      Aug 6, 2018
  • Airbnb / DesignHHIp88
    Two of Airbnb’s founders were designers, and we often refer to the company as “design-led”. What does that mean, really?

    Designers work really closely with PMs to build the vision for teams and projects. In some cases, designers are the POCs leading projects, and we have even a few designers who lead entire business units. We deal with a fair bit of ambiguity at Airbnb, so designers who do well in that environment fare better than those who don’t. The better you are at cutting through ambiguity and taking initiative, the more you’re recognized and can grow (I guess this holds true in most places and functions).

    Work/life balance is pretty good, but varies per team. It gets crazy around major launches, but that doesn’t affect every team. Compensation is average for SV.

    In terms of innovation, remember: Airbnb is a marketplace. It’s basically like Amazon or EBay for travel. Most of the fun stuff happens on the guest side, where the “innovation” is in how we make it enticing to book and plan your trip. The host-side product is a CRUD app.
    Jul 29, 20183
    • Amazon / DesignD371Gn
      Sounds pretty unique. I’ve seen many designers elsewhere take initiative and work through ambiguity and not get any recognition at all. Airbnb sounds like a smartly-run company.
      Jul 29, 2018
    • Airbnb / DesignHHIp88
      Depends on your POV if designers can or should be business leaders or not. I’ve worked at FAANG engineering-led companies and I consider those more smartly run. Too much optimism and not enough pragmatism from design leaders, IMO.

      YMMV
      Jul 29, 2018
    • Amazon / DesignD371Gn
      Sure, definitely understand and agree with that. But I find it’s easier to tone down optimism than it is to inject it outright. Raw passion can go a long way, leading to bigger wins and more resilience during down periods. There’s no “right” way though, just what people prefer. Amazon is one of the least inspiring places I’ve been, but it’s damn effective and successful.
      Jul 29, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng👑BEZOS👑
    Avoid Amazon at all costs
    Jul 27, 20183
    • Intuit / Designcanary
      OP
      Why?
      Jul 27, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng👑BEZOS👑
      Idk exactly why but Amazon just doesn't give a fuck about good UI/UX design as other companies
      Jul 27, 2018
    • Amazon djrwcjo
      Amazon focuses on technology and retail sales.Design will always be in service to those, never a priority or respected as a craft. Most VX work is a dead end production work.
      Aug 6, 2018
  • Bloomberg Whodeenee
    Why the fuck did you list alphabet and google
    Jul 27, 20181
    • Intuit / Designcanary
      OP
      Why not? They have Waymo, Verily, and X amongst others don’t they?
      Jul 27, 2018
  • Airbnb / DesignHHIp88
    Airbnb isn’t in FAANG. It’s not even a public company yet.
    Jul 28, 20181
    • Intuit / Designcanary
      OP
      Care to share your experiences as a designer there nevertheless?
      Jul 28, 2018
  • Amazon dxpS56
    LOL AMAZON
    Jul 27, 20181
    • Intuit / Designcanary
      OP
      Will anyone actually bother explaining why
      Jul 27, 2018
  • DocuSign GXsY60
    What's FANNG?
    Aug 1, 20181
    • Airbnb / DesignHHIp88
      It’s an acronym for top tech stocks.

      Facebook
      Amazon
      Netflix
      Google
      Aug 1, 2018
  • Capital One / DesignETF189
    Any comments here would be valuable!
    Jul 28, 20180

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