A deep dive into our day-to-day: meeting cadences, rituals, and anything that helps our design team stay connected and efficient.

| This article is cross-posted from the Figma Blog

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A few weeks ago during a webinar on remote critiques, I shared a glimpse into our product design team’s process here at Figma, and subsequently linked to the deck on the Figma Community. I’ve since received a few messages asking for more content like this, so I figured it’s worth expanding more on how our team works.

Historically we’ve written about hiring and critiques, but haven’t yet stepped back to talk more about our overall design team process. So, consider this a deeper dive into our day-to-day: meeting cadences, rituals, and anything else that helps our design team stay connected and efficient. …

Learn about our six unique methods for design critique, along with some tips and best practices for running them effectively.

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This article is cross-posted from the Figma Blog

Design critiques are a key part of just about every design culture, and one of the few consistent rituals design teams share. Done well, they can leverage the unique superpowers of your team members to raise the collective quality of each individual’s work. Critiques should leave you feeling inspired, challenged, and empowered. However, in practice, it doesn’t always pan out that way. A poorly managed critique can cause your team to feel discouraged, overwhelmed, or completely lost. …

An inside look into who we are and how we got here

We couldn’t be more proud to announce 4 new designers — Tori Hinn, Lucyné Babayan, Bradee Evans, and Marcin Wichary — to the Figma Design team!

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Just under a year ago, we only had one full-time core product designer and a few of us chipping in part-time toward feature work. It was tough to keep up with all the engineers, and we knew we had to hire fast to maintain high quality designs. But we also wanted to make sure it was done thoughtfully. …

An attempt at refining my thoughts and values in the open

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🚧 I’m a work in progress, and always open to feedback 🚧

Early into working together, my first manager at Google shared with me his “User Manual” — a short guide he wrote about himself to put all his cards on the table and help people understand him. For example, his written communication was often very terse and succinct. Out of context, this might appear to some that he doesn’t think a lot about his responses or express enough care. But once you get to know him, you’d realize it wasn’t personal. Just an efficient writing style and an unfortunate case of carpal tunnel.

I found his manual fascinating. More than helping me understand his brief replies, I appreciated how it demonstrated self-awareness and made himself vulnerable, which encouraged me do the same. So it got me thinking about what I would write in my own manual. …

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I often get asked by friends, family, and acquaintances for advice on where to look to learn about design (what I do for a living). Even though design education has been around in various forms for a long time, the topic areas are broad — think interior, fashion, graphic, or industrial — and digital interface design remains a relatively newer trade.

Technology has rapidly changed the way we build products and services, and more and more it seems like learning on the internet is outpacing traditional education and schooling on the subject. …

Why I’m Joining Figma

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Illustration by the very talented, Peter Barnaba

After almost 2 years in New York, I am excited to be moving back to San Francisco to manage the design team at Figma. I couldn’t be more thrilled for my new home, where I’ll be working with an incredibly talented team building the future of collaborative design tools.

In this post, I want to highlight three things:

  1. Why I’m joining Figma
  2. A fun glance into my unique interview process
  3. Some thoughts on the future of design tools

Why Figma?

When I first met Dylan (co-founder and CEO of Figma) a few years ago, I was skeptical that a full-featured design tool could be built with browser technology. Since then, the team has quickly proven me wrong with their ability to keep up with modern design needs like design systems, responsive components, and prototyping — all the while inventing their own new paradigms like multiplayer and vector networks. …

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This month is my 2nd year anniversary becoming a product design manager. I’m still new to it. I didn’t go to school for management. I simply became a manager when I was campaigning to get more design help on the project I was working on. I asked my boss at the time who would manage that person once we found him or her, and he replied something terse yet packed with thoughtful context as he always did — “Why not you?”

Wasn’t there some process for on-boarding new managers? Didn’t I need some experience first? Sure I’d taken in a summer intern, but was I ready to grow a team? As most of us new to anything quickly learn, turns out you are never fully ready—sometimes you just need to jump off the deep end and give it a shot. …

Tips for new designers entering the industry

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Last week, I did my best to give advice to 24 strangers in a series of 30 minute one-on-one sessions over 4 days. It was one of the most fun / unique / rewarding / stressful / exciting / weird experiences I’ve had in a long time. Some quick stats before I explain further:

  • 21 were over Google Hangouts, 3 were in person at coffee shops in NYC
  • Folks dialed in from: India, Netherlands, Mexico, San Francisco, San Diego, Mountain View, Denver, Baltimore, Boston, and New York
  • ♂ 13 ♀ 11
  • Only 1 person was a white american male. Everyone else could be considered a minority in one way or another, which was a pleasant surprise and encouraged some great discussions around…

I wrote this back in college with my friend Rick in April of 2010 when we kept noticing how similar our mannerisms (and those of our classmates and teachers) were. More than 5 years later, it’s still reasonably accurate…

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If you watch closely enough, you can catch it. It doesn’t take any special binoculars or anything, you just need to know what to look for. We aren’t talking about a rare wild animal, but a more clever species… the designer. A certain few mannerisms have become a staple in everyday conversation between modern design consultants, professors, and students. Unfortunately once you begin to notice these habits, you can’t stop noticing them. …

Rafael Levin b. Vilna, Lithuania, 1905 — d. Pittsburgh, PA 1998
Eta Levin Hecht b. Kovno, Lithuania, 1938

Six unbelievable miracles that allowed my Grandparents and Aunt to narrowly survive the Holocaust.

This true story was written by my Grandfather, Rafael Levin, and my Aunt, Eta Hecht. It’s reposted here from a book with a collection of short stories from Holocaust survivors:

Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood During the Holocaust
Edited by Anita Brostoff with Sheila Chamovitz

As soon as the Nazis occupied Kovno, Lithuania — it was in June 1941 — they and the Lithuanians started to oppress Jews. From the beginning, Jews were ordered to wear two yellow Stars of David, one on the front and one on the back of their garments. Lithuanian partisans and Nazis entered Jewish homes and took clothes and jewelry, killed men and later women. …


Noah Levin

Design Director at Figma in SF. Previously led the UX team at ClassPass in NY, before that the iOS Google App in Mountain View. Carnegie Mellon Alum. ENFP.

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