Facebook Ads Manager
When I first joined Facebook, our Ads platform was painfully fragmented.
Through customer feedback surveys, in-person user studies, and laboratory sessions, my ad interface team learned that the existing advertising tools on Facebook were more than challenging to use, particularly collectively.
Facebook had built separate teams, each responsible for independent parts of the advertising experience: from ads integrity, business management, and billing to ads creation, lightweight interfaces (managed by the Pages organization), ad editing, insights, and reporting.
Businesses had to rely on many different tools within Facebook to advertise effectively, leading to a distributed and often inconsistent experience, which in turn led to wasted time and money.
As one of three designers on the ads manager team, I worked with the many teams managing independent aspects of the Facebook advertising experience to understand the product experience and envision how we might improve it.
We knew from research that there were no single flow advertisers used when creating or managing ads on the platform—as my peer Matthew Rigodanzo elegantly illustrated with a simple visual map.
Our customers' diverse needs meant they would use our various tools in different ways, depending on a multitude of factors such as their team size, budget, seasonality, role, objectives, stakeholder management, and much more.
This highlighted the fundamental problem with how Facebook set up the advertising experience. Having many separate interfaces for everything an advertiser may want to do meant they had to open multiple browser tabs or windows to manage even the most basic tasks.
As a core team, we asked: what would happen if we consolidated much of the advertising features into a single interface?
Over three months, I worked closely with one designer, two product managers, a researcher, and a team of about 15 software engineers to ideate and iterate on what a consolidated, simplified ads experience might look like for Facebook.
We used whiteboarding sessions and team brainstorms to create concept sketches, which I then took into digital form to help make higher-fidelity concepts we could present to users for feedback.
Early signals were promising: customers liked being able to navigate their advertising accounts, settings, reporting, management, and creation from a single interface.
Feedback from users we showed design concepts to was that the experience felt intuitive, simple, and as though it would be a time-saver, all metrics we began indexing on as core to the project's success.
But we had to react quickly to feedback. Our product management lead had negotiated a year with Facebook executives to design, build, and ship the new advertising experience, and we were already 40% into our timeline.
Ultimately, we knew we needed to ship real features to real customers to determine whether our efforts would pay off.
I worked closely with more than three dozen different designers and engineers across the Facebook ads organization to create a consistent, cohesive, and simple interface experience for users.
After several months of collaboration, research testing, and iteration, our team was ready to begin shipping features to actual customers. But, because we were working on a product that would have tremendously costly implications for our business and our customers' livelihood, we knew shipping a complete product could lead to disaster.
We looked at our options and the data and landed on a 20% test to "middle of the road" customers: 20% of advertisers already on the platform who were not spending large or small amounts of money. We needed to target advertisers in the middle who could give us valuable feedback to make improvements, catch bugs, and ship incomplete features without catastrophic effects.
We also worked with several partner advertisers of medium-to-large businesses to help test an early "beta" program. And we launched an opt-in option for all new advertisers joining the platform. We used a simple dialog message to ask these new users whether they wanted to help test the new ads manager or use the old version. With results of the prompt landing somewhere in the middle: 50% of new advertisers joining the beta, and the other half opted to use the old version.
The metrics after launching showed an increase in positive user sentiment, and more advertising spend for accounts of all sizes, and fewer incomplete sessions across our advertising experience. We ended up launching to 100% just a few months after our initial trials.
Read more about the success of the launch from expert marketer Jon Loomer.
Facebook Profile and creative tools
After successfully launching a new Ads Manager, I moved to the Facebook Profile team to help with large, creative efforts there. On the Profile team, I lead efforts across a group of seven designers to help Facebook users express themselves and connect with others.
As one of the top three surfaces across all of Facebook, and with the social network becoming more and more ubiquitous worldwide, the team was beginning to see trends through data and research that were underlining a few core opportunities.
Specifically, we identified that Facebook users needed (in my own words):
- Reliable ways to validate who they connected with (as friends and across groups and events).
- More unique ways to express the unique attributes of their identity.
- A way to understand who could see information on their Profile, to protect from harassment and other possible issues.
I took advantage of Facebook's incredible research and data resources to evaluate user behaviors through international user research studies, variant testing, and lab studies. Then, alongside a product manager and engineering manager, I explored ways to help Facebook users feel more expressive, better connected to the people who matter most in their lives, and safer about the content they share on their Profile.
We subsequently shipped features I could not be more proud of working on, such as dynamic and artistic cover photos, an improved and more modern Facebook camera experience, and more explicit feed stories for Profile updates.
Around the time many of these features were shipping, the Profile product managers began noticing a trend wherein many global users would modify their profile picture with filters and frames from third-party websites.
Then, after a hackathon enabling anyone to use a custom "profile picture frame" to celebrate gay pride in the United States exploded into an overnight success, the team began asking: how might we enable people to express the issues, beliefs, causes or events, they cherish most through their profile picture?
The solution we envisioned was to build a platform that would enable anyone to create artwork that Facebook users could use.
We called this effort the Camera Effects Platform. I worked as the lead designer across Menlo Park, Seattle, and London teams.
I defined my mission early on in three parts:
- To understand creator workflows.
- Build a tool that would allow anyone to create flexible artwork to be used across Facebook (including augmented reality, or AR).
- And create a consumption experience that would make finding artwork to express yourself as easy as tapping a button.
The platform had to meet many different teams' needs. Yet, because of my work on the Ads Manager team at Facebook, I was already very familiar with collaborating best and understanding the diverse needs of various stakeholders and bringing them together into a singular experience.
I spent considerable time working closely with many designers in different locations to ideate patterns that would enable us to reach the goals the team and I had set out to achieve.
The soon-to-be-announced Facebook Camera would rely on the artwork created through the platform to stand apart from Snapchat. Plus, the Profile team needed an influx of new frames to enable more expression, and other teams across Groups, Events, and Pages were interested in what the platform would be able to do as well.
We used a series of rolling research sessions to test and evaluate ideas through concept to prototype before successfully launching the platform at Facebook's F8 conference in 2017.