Facebook To Launch Design Team in New York

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Margaret Stewart
Margaret Stewart

In an effort to get closer to Madison Avenue and advertisers, Facebook has announced that it is expanding its design team into New York.

The charge is being led by Margaret Stewart, the company's director of product design, who is on the hunt for new designers -- including someone to lead the East Coast team -- in the Big Apple.

Ms. Stewart said the new team "will focus largely on the world of advertising," from creating compelling ad experiences for its users, to also innovating on tools that Facebook's business partners use to create and manage their own presences on the social network.

An east coast design presence stands to benefit agencies, provided that it brings with it a more hands-on approach. Mike Geiger, president-chief integration officer at JWT North America, said it would "definitely be helpful" if there is a local team agencies can work with, especially as a resource to let agencies know of the social network's limitations and guidelines. "It can be a struggle to get people [at Facebook] on the phone, because it's such a large organization," he said.

Adam Kerj, chief creative officer at New York's 360i believes it will help build a closer relationship between Facebook and agencies, but "it's a matter of integrating them closer into what we do every day, rather than working in silos," he said.

That's exactly what Facebook intends with the N.Y. design team, said Ms. Stewart. The design staff will spend more time in the field, going on sales calls and spending time with clients. "It will have additional access to the users we design for," she said. Facebook's New York office, which opened in 2009, has grown to 150 people, including sales, marketing and engineering talent.

New York's diversity and plethora of small businesses mean the design team will also be spending a lot of time learning about ad formats and tools for advertisers for a more varied group of users. "It's our human-centered design approach," said Ms. Stewart.

Currently the company is on the lookout for a core team of four people to start things off, from product designers with experience in product strategy and web applications, to advertising designers, regardless of experience in the space. There are currently 90 designers at Facebook in Menlo Park.

And if Facebook is looking for design suggestions, Mr. Kerj has a long wishlist, including the ability to customize brand presences in pages, and how content appears within the newsfeed. "Why no animated GIFs or "on-click" audio?" he said. "More flexible real estate for our tab designs would be nice," he added. "And dare we suggest: responsive design."

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