Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg aren't the only Facebook leaders with big personal brands and large followings.
Thanks to some superb posts on Medium, with topics ranging from "A New Mother's Identity Crisis" to "The 5 Most Common Mistakes in Design," Julie Zhuo, Facebook's director of product design, now has 47,000 followers on Medium and 34,500 on Twitter. As Fortune pointed out last year, Zhuo, 31, was one of Facebook's first interns in 2006, when it was still mainly used by various colleges. A Stanford-educated computer scientist, Zhuo was leading the company's product-design team by 2009.
All of which is why her advice about design--and about leading a team in a fast-paced environment--is worthy of your attention. Earlier this week, she was the guest in a live chat on Product Hunt. Here are some highlights from the answers she provided.
What the average day is like for her: She gets in at 8:30 or 9am. "Then, I typically have a bunch of different meetings," she says. "Some of them to look at and discuss new design work, some to catch up with individual people on my team and figure out how I can help them, some cross-functional meetings to make sure design, engineering, and product are aligned on our strategy and the problem we're solving, and some to plan for growing and scaling a great team."
She usually leaves work at about 6p.m. and spends the evening with her family.
How to execute a successful design sprint: A design sprint is the process by which a design team attempts to quickly develop solutions to a given challenge. As the recently released book, Design Sprint: A Practical Guide to Building Great Products, points out, the length of a design sprint can vary radically, depending on the challenge.
For Zhuo's team, some design sprints are a few hours; others last an entire week. To teach new employees about its design-sprint methods, Facebook has a two-week program called "Design Camp." The program serves as an intro to design philosophies at Facebook, as well as a practical how-to session for the tools, software, and collaboration methods Facebook's designers use.
How she knows when a project is finished and ready for public consumption: Rather than basing this decision on whether a design outcome "could be better"--because the answer could always be yes--Zhuo prefers to use this question as a guide: "What is the most valuable thing we can do for people?"
That question helps her teams prioritize what's most important about a given project. It's also a question you can research by simply asking people--and gaining insights from their answers.
How she promotes her team's work internally: She sends out a weekly digest with highlights. In addition, the entire design staff meets every other week for "all-hands" meetings. This gives all the members a chance to share what they're doing and the lessons they've learned.
Advice she'd give her younger self: To ask for help more often. "I've been lucky to be surrounded with amazingly talented designers and builders, and I could have learned so much more from them earlier in my career if I hadn't been afraid to ask," she says.
How she finds time to blog outside of her actual job: She sticks to a strict schedule. Every three weeks, she blocks off a few hours of time on a Saturday or Sunday. Then she sits down and does it, no matter what.
She errs on the side of getting things done, rather than perfection. "The main rule is: just write the words and hit 'publish,' and don't worry too much about whether everything feels 'perfect,'" she says.