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How Julie Zhuo Uses Data in Design: Early Facebook Days, starting Sundial

How Julie Zhuo Uses Data in Design: Early Facebook Days, starting Sundial

Julie Zhuo: Early Facebook Days, Leaving Meta & Building Data-Informed Products

Our conversation with Julie Zhuo talking Early Facebook, Design Leadership, AI, building data-informed products and leaving Facebook to start Sundial.

Julie Zhuo is a highly influential design leader, an early-employee and former VP of Design at Facebook and now, the co-founder of Sundial, a modern analytics tool to help companies understand the story of their data to make better decisions. Before that, she was the VP of Product Design for the Facebook app, where she helped scale the service from 10 million users to over 2 billion during her nearly 14 years there. She is the Author of The Making of a Manager, became an instant Wall Street Journal bestseller, and was selected as one of Amazon's Best Business and Leadership Books of 2019.

  • Julie’s advice for career development

  • Early Facebook lessons learnt

  • How Facebook design in the early days

  • How Facebook’s design evolved over time

  • Leaving Facebook to startup

  • Founding of Sundial

  • Building Data-informed products

  • AI’s impact on Design

  • What most people get wrong about using data on products

  • Career advice to being successful

Some key takeaways:

  1. "That sense of constantly being on that adventure and not knowing what will happen and taking some risks is one that I grew to seek out, and that is a lot of the reason why I ended up starting a company and trying to dive into the unknown."

  2. Building an experimentation platform and using AB testing at Facebook led to rapid learning and growth, making it a crucial factor for success.

  3. Reflection is key - it's important to take the time to reflect on your actions, whether they were successful or not, in order to learn and improve. Iteration, feedback, and talking to customers always grounds us and pushes the work to be better.

  4. Design and data are unified by a desire for truth, and the struggle lies in interpretation and where we are on a particular use case or metric. The truth of what's happening with users is very complex and multi-dimensional, but we can only see it in two or three dimensions, so we need to be cautious with data and metrics.

  5. The idea of taking risks and pursuing dreams only became a reality for Julie Zhuo when she was no longer too scared to do so, highlighting the impact of fear on decision-making.

Watch the full YouTube video today here.

Where to find Julie Zhuo:

Where to find more resources:

In this episode, we cover:

0:00 - Introduction

4:03 - Early Facebook

8:15 - Global reach of Facebook

12:51 - Unknowns of Design

16:25 - Biggest lessons

18:38 - Strategies for growth

24:46 - Data-informed design

34:00 - Data vs Opinion

37:08 - Opinion-based experiment

43:30 - New startup

45:05 - Leaving Meta to startup

47:20 - Culture of startup vs Meta

51:50 - Silicon Valley and India

57:30 - Tech Layoffs

1:00:29 - Future of Design with AI

1:05:38 - Final Advice

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View From The Top: Design | AI | Career
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