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A Summary of

Defining Product Design: A Dispatch from Airbnb's Design Chief

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First Round Review
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Weak marketing and education for design roles

  • Brand and marketing design is easier than product design.
  • A broader understanding of design functions will help designers to be more involved.

Nonstandard organizational structure

  • Structuring design teams in a relatively uniform way will foster design culture and career paths.

Role models

  • Few recognizable figures exist in design.
  • A function becomes more expansive as it produces role models and aspirational leaders.

Fuse engineering, product and design from the start.

  • Hire and unleash a design lead from the start.
  • Grow design’s headcount in step with engineering product hires.

Carve out career paths for Individual Contributors (ICs)

  • Level titles across teams
  • Promote ICs to the highest level without making them managers.

Improve the following

  • Retention of designers
  • Concurrent cohort growth
  • Mobility

Surface new tools and establish a vernacular

  • Designers need to experiment with their tools in order to construct something and achieve synchronization with tools.
  • Common language across the industry could go a long way to formalizing a design profession. 
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