Our first global @design week

Thursday, 13 August 2015

This June we hosted our first Global Design Week, which brought together our entire design and research team in San Francisco to connect, collaborate, and celebrate design culture around the company.

Our design and research team has grown by more than 30% in the past six months alone, and 15% of us now work in distributed offices. In order to scale with the growing demands of rapid iterative product development, designers and researchers no longer work in a centralized space and are now embedded with their product and engineering counterparts. This comes with many benefits: speed, reduced communication overhead, and greater empathy for the unique problems engineers and product managers grapple with every day.

Our first global @design week

The Twitter design and research team

The one drawback to this approach is that designers and researchers don’t feel as connected to their colleagues across the company. Additionally, team members in different time zones may feel disconnected and miss out on social events and hallway conversations.

Maintaining and strengthening our design culture has always been of paramount importance to us. When you know and trust your colleagues, you can produce your best work. To nurture our culture around this embedded model, we hold a series of events — daily, weekly, and annually — to bring designers and researchers together in one place. Hence, Design Week!

We kicked off the week with a photo station and lighthearted competition to learn names and share personal facts. Everyone chose from a menu of events such as design presentations from product subteams, a talk on the advantages and challenges of working in distributed offices, a Giants game, and to top things off — Design Day, a full-day conference about inspiration, design thinking, and how we work together.

Our first global @design week

Mike Davidson starting up Design Day before the first speaker

Our first global @design week

Mike Kruzeniski and Ann Semeraro begin their talk Reaching Every Person

Our first global @design week

Kate Freebairn and Liz Ferrall-Nunge speaking about successful team collaboration

To kick off Design Day, we invited Joshua Davis to speak on stretching his creative process, and Nir Eyal to talk about how to build habit-forming products. In between, we shared high-energy talks about project collaborations and personal passions ranging from building your brand by writing to how counterterrorism methods can inform user research.

Our first global @design week

Designers Brittany Forks, Xuan WangAshlie Ford, Bernadine Lui and Anjani Bhargava taking a break between sessions

We also had people choose between three breakout sessions on prototyping, brainstorming, and design critique. A beautiful gallery space provided a fitting backdrop for both our creative sessions and a happy hour, which featured an animated GIF booth.

Our first global @design week

Jess Myra enjoying the closing keynote

The response to Design Week has been overwhelmingly positive. We all value the chance to learn from each other, share our thoughts and ideas on developing our careers and craft, and build empathy to work together as a global team.

Want to be part of Design Week next year? There’s only one way: join the flock! We’re always hiring.

Thanks to Lisa Hanninen, Martin Petracca and Kate Freebairn for their contributions to the post. Photos by Paul Stamatiou.