Facebook / Internet.org
Product Design Internship

June 2018 - August 2018

Photo:  Barney Moss

I was given the opportunity to intern at Facebook, specifically as a Product Designer under the internet.org, or Connectivity, team. Our mission is to create products that cultivate the outreach of internet access and importance of connectivity to parts of the world that do not yet have the level of internet integration that we benefit from today. While our designs are not a part of the typical platform experience, they have their own special class of considerations and restrictions, be it through the nuances of other languages, the viability of business, or the constraints of policy. What we produce must thread the needle of these specifications. This was a daunting, yet extremely fascinating set of challenges for me to audit, hypothesize, and design around.

As the inaugural class of FBU Product Design interns, I had the honor and pleasure of spending my time with a close-knit cohort of ten. In the eight weeks we had together, we tirelessly organized peer reviews to engage with in our free time, and advocated for the success of one another. I also worked with a deeply skilled team at Connectivity, allowing me to integrate myself into the work of not only fellow Product Designers, but Computer Scientists, Data Analysts, Content Strategists, and beyond as I developed my product. Throughout the process, I utilized Sketch, Origami, and a litany of collaborative Facebook internal tools.

Due to my NDA, I am unable to delve into the specifics of my long-term internship project at this time.

I can, however, walk through my short-term project.

We were given two days to sprint through a conceptual problem. Specifically, how we might improve the fundraising experience at Facebook and put the new design tools and methodology we were taught to the test. The question that I decided to design for was: How do we demystify the fundraising process and increase the number of donors on the platform? With that in mind, I readily delved into my process.

  1. Auditing & Setting the Stakes

I address the all-encompassing “why” of a problem. The high-level reasoning surrounding the issue, what users think and feel about it, and the circumstances that rest at its core. I immerse myself in product, empathize with its consumers, and parse the data at my disposal. They define my foundation.

For FB Fundraising, I must consider why users veer away from the platform. Do they not understand it? Not know it exists? Not trust it? I partition the reasoning into a matter of transparency, a lack of information over the donation process; and an unmet personal desire to see one’s contributions truly matter, something gravely important on a social platform. Therefore, my product must foster users’ trust and be personally compelling.

This becomes my north star ideal, something that strongly conveys transparency while playing to the tune of users’ own investment. The underlying feelings form the other stars in the constellation, then: trust, validation, and doing what Facebook does best and connecting communities.


2. Hypothesis & Wireframes

I coalesce my information into an initial solution and I begin to wireframe; a rapid iteration style that covers all my bases as I bring in constant rounds of feasibility testing and pick out what does and does not work.

Several ideas came and went, but I ultimately decided to bring in the concept of creating goals, or setting campaign milestones, as my product. Milestones serve double-duty in a myriad of ways. They not only help to organize and better convey the competency of amateur-run fundraisers, as are commonplace on Facebook, but emphasize to donors the concrete ways their contributions will take effect. This helps users from from either ends of a use case. Organizers better formulate how their funds will be spent, and potential donators gain information and a clear understanding of the fundraiser. This is my north star ideal, put into a workable solution.

Milestones are also a campaign strategy observed on other successful crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Given the short time span I have to research and hypothesize, a tried and true feature has proven effectiveness and mitigates risk.

3. Feedback & Iteration

Feedback is the greatest gift. It’s the motto I live under. I’m simply the sort of person who will never stop trying to improve of achieve greater heights. That rings completely true when it comes to my design work. I want as many eyes and opinions as I can possibly get. There is always something valuable to gain from a fresh perspective, no matter how experienced. So I take my designs to group critiques and individuals in specific departments alike. I run through my flows and iterate, iterate, and iterate still.

Time is also a constraint when it came to the design sprint, but I leveraged the tools and assets at my disposal to create a design that was viable for engineering and overall realistic to deliver. Some of the interfaces lack a certain sense of hierarchy and functional clarity that could still be refined upon, and remain as aspects that could be revisited.

Final flow.

4. Refining & Presentation

Through my process, I tirelessly seek out critique and consult cross-functionally with all other departments involved, making sure their considerations are accounted for. And then of course, once all options have been addressed, I’ve naturally reached the best possible product given my constraints. Along with this comes an extensive flow of the user experience, detailing exactly why each of my choices have come to be, and how each team’s concerns have been incorporated into the final product. In the event that I must present to the board, I frame my story around what matters to my audience’s interests and weave the design’s narrative, starting with the “why” down to the granular deliberations.

Due to the nature of our two-day sprint, the refining process was cut short, though I have plenty noted down when it comes to further improvements. At the end of this mini project was a short formal presentation. In this case, it was a formal talk for our Product Design mentors, so I framed my delivery around the concepts we’d gone over in design training. From questions I posed in response to the design challenge, down to my solutions, I employed their critical thinking teachings and ideation structure. I tell the story of how my design came to be, why it ultimately matters as a product, and how I’d absorbed my previous learnings.

Lessons Learned

Through my internship, I rapidly taught myself how to create flows in Sketch and complete prototypes in Origami. I managed my own Quip documents for the sake of market research correspondence, manicured my Pixelcloud profile, prepared presentation decks through Keynote, and maintained progress reports for my managers and team members.

These hard skills aside, I learned valuable people skills as a part of working in a novel corporate environment. Cross-team communication is key, applying a quality of empathy and leveraging my own multidisciplinary skills helps immensely when it came to collaborating. My game development background helped to related to Engineering and better explain the handling of my UI elements, my psychology background helped me play to the tune of Content Strategy. Along with business matters, this was a profound interpersonal lesson as well. Approaching others, both peers and supervisors, with a self-aware candor that welcomes openly addressing and working on matters that cropped up saw to a world of improvement and positive growth in my two months at Facebook. Overall, it was a valuable experience that bettered me as a designer, collaborator, and beyond.

Button designs to commemorate our inaugural FBU Product Design cohort.

Button designs to commemorate our inaugural FBU Product Design cohort.