June 10, 2015

Netflix Happy Hour & SF Design Week

It’s SF Design Week!

Well. I guess it’s more like a couple of weeks actually.

Anyway, I’m lucky enough to be spending the summer in the San Francisco Bay Area at Adobe. Adobe’s HQ is located in San Jose (south bay) and I’ve been living in Palo Alto. It’s nice because I can still get to the downtown SF pretty easily via the Caltrain from Palo Alto, and still get to San Jose for work easily as well. The whole area has a really huge & friendly community for designers and developers.

SF Design Week is a series of events around the area about design, entrepreneurship, and general awesomeness. I’ve signed up for a few of the events, including yesterday’s Happy Hour at Netflix HQ in Los Gatos. I met a few really cool people there, and I got to preview the new Netflix homepage that will be launching soon, as well as learn a bit about how Netflix’s designers work.

Here’s the SFDesignWeek website. I’m also going to be attending Quora’s event about “Designing Social Systems” (I <3 Quora, follow me) and Salesforce’s UXNight about Data Visualization later this week.

UX at Netflix

Although I didn’t really get to speak with many Netflix designers (the whole event was way less formal than I expected), I really enjoyed learning a bit about how they work. I’ve never worked on such a large scale application like Netflix, and it’s super interesting to learn about how they iterate on their UX. They are largely data driven, and focus a lot on beta testing changes. I believe we were told that on average we are each a part of at least 10 different beta tests, which can range from tiny changes like a different button or to large changes like an entirely new homepage. Newer users tend to get larger changes because it’s easier to present them with a new experience rather than switch older users. This way changes aren’t so jarring, and older users don’t have to see a large change that may not have worked switched back to what they saw before the beta test.

The Bay Community is Awesome

I also met a couple of people working at Facebook who were really awesome. Facebook keeps surprising me, their workplace culture has a great rep, and their open source contributions keep getting better. I only ever hear great things about working for them. I feel really good about companies with an “open” culture. I met a Product Designer from there at the event, and I was surprised (and delighted!) to learn that all designers at Facebook prototype their own work, primarily with FramerJS and Origami, and there is an expectation that you have some experience with coding. That’s really awesome, and great to hear especially from a big company that might have otherwise had a lot of people working as cogs in only one area (UX vs visual vs motion, etc).

I met a few people who studied Human Factors, one from a consultancy in Cambridge that was visiting California and one from Facebook. I’d never really heard much about the field, and it was interesting to learn about how it overlaps with UX and how the principles apply to their work. It’s largely similar except that their focus much less on digital interfaces and more with physical hardware, though it’s constantly evolving. They also do a lot more quantitative research than we do in New Media Design. I really hope our classes get more detailed in quantitative research for our senior year, I think it’s extremely interesting.

Tonight I’m off to UXNight from Salesforce to hear all about data which should be really awesome! I really love the bay.