Facebook’s New York office has a different lineage than its corporate headquarters in Menlo Park. It opened in 2009 to be filled not by coders but sales staff. It wasn’t until 2011 that Facebook brought in engineers. And beginning in 2013, it will be home to four newly hired designers who will spearhead the first-ever New York design team.
Their mission? To serve as a bridge–or “conduit of data”–between the ad folks in New York and the designers in California. In reality, that’s a much more interesting, greater challenge than it may sound.
Since Facebook’s IPO, the social network has been tasked by Wall Street to become a profitable company. A lot of that pressure is falling to Margaret Stewart, the company’s director of product design.
Stewart told us that the New York design team would have their hands in both the front and back end of advertiser experience. Their primary focus will be collaborating with sales and agency clients, designing the tools that will enable advertisers to better design their own campaigns. “In a lot of ways, the tools companies develop for businesses don’t get as much design attention as things that address consumers,” Stewart explains. “We’re trying to raise the bar for business partners.”
The other half of the challenge, of course, is even bigger than pleasing businesses; it’s selling Facebook’s one billion users on more deeply integrated ads, convincing us all that connecting with a brand or product really can be as satisfying as connecting with a long lost friend. Stewart, however, is nonplussed by the undertaking at hand, again and again referring to her task as an “opportunity” rather than what most of us call it: one of the largest design problems in both advertising and social networking today.
“There’s an attitude in general that people don’t like ads. That’s not true. People love ads when they’re great,” she says. “You can see this across all types of social media. If you looked at the top 20 shared things each year, there are always ads on the list. It’s a thing that resonates with people, makes them laugh, hurt, animate, or fires them up. It’s great content.”
And if that argument puts fire in your belly, you can put in your application at Facebook NY today.