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AMA: I'm Maykel Loomans, product designer at Instagram.

over 6 years ago from , Designer at Instagram

I joined Instagram as a contractor from October of 2011, and moved to San Francisco in March of 2012. During my time there so far, I've worked on just about all of the web products, the iOS 7 re-design, the Windows Phone app and many other projects.

Before Instagram, I was working as a freelancer in the Netherlands — a tiny little town called Maastricht. In 2006, I co-founded an agency called Airglow Studios, which I was principle designer at for five years.

Ask me anything regarding Instagram, product design, the web, or life. Or coffee. Or cocktails. Wine? Beer? Great Food? Photography? I'd love to hear from you!

— @miekd

Edit: Thanks for the great questions everyone! I'll be answering the rest of them during the day and maybe the weekend. Thanks again for having me. And if you ever want to have a coffee or a drink in SF, just reach out!

P.S.: We're looking for an awesome Communication Designer to join our design team. If you want to learn more, tweet me at @miekd or check out the listing: https://www.facebook.com/careers/department?dept=design&req=a0IA000000CyoZ9MAJ

76 comments

  • chris connollychris connolly, over 6 years ago

    What's your favorite dog account on Instagram?

    13 points
  • Matt AchariamMatt Achariam, over 6 years ago

    Hey Maykel, thanks for joining us. I'm an avid Instagram user and by extension a big fan of the work you guys do. I'll start things off with a few questions.

    1. With the endless list of things to do, how and what do you choose to focus on? What is the workflow like at Instagram?
    2. How do you collaborate with other designers, when there are strong opinions on design from very capable designers?
    3. What do you think is most under appreciated yet still critical to the field of user interface design?
    10 points
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Thanks, Matt! Glad to be here.

      1.

      Over time, our process has changed. For the longest time our team was very small and we had a series of products we wanted to ship. So everyone would focus on that.

      Nowadays we have multiple parallel projects at the same time. We have a general roadmap of where we want to be in certain increments of time, but we're still intentional and agile in case we need to sway from that and focus on something specific.

      When it comes to workflow, we start by making sure we have defined the correct problem and what questions come out of that. In all phases of the process, we're in conversation with Kevin, Mike, Peter etc. about which way to steer.

      With these questions we will do very quick iterations sketching and white-boarding to make sure we are all on the same page. From there it's a lot of explorations; both static visuals and interaction (we use Quartz Composer and Framer for interactive prototyping) The whole process is aimed at honing in on the exact, focused product we want to ship.

      From there on out we make a list of priorities of what would be the minimum viable product, which parts we would love to have when we launch, and which parts we think are too much for that version. And we're ruthless about cutting features.

      2.

      Our design team sits together. We're all very open to critique, even if someone just comes over to one of our desks and asks what something on the screen is. When there are strong opinions we discuss them, and try to resolve them in a rational way. Mostly with questions, suggestions and a whiteboard.

      3.

      Simplicity, sensibility towards engineers and learning from people who use your product.

      There are a lot of beautiful products out there that could have been built possibly simpler and faster.

      There is a lot of time wasted on getting everything exaaaactly right, where most of the time you're not even sure if many of the calls you make are correct.

      7 points
  • Jon GoldJon Gold, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    What was it like joining Instagram just as the aquisition happened and getting written about in the Daily Mail etc? Crazy timing.

    Did you ever expect that would happen when you were thinking of joining? Was it a big distraction from day-to-day work?

    4 points
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      It was definitely crazy. None of us were expecting that would happen. And obviously most of what was written was completely incorrect. I think for me it was a distraction for about two weeks.

      After that, it was really fascinating to see how focused we were again. We had work to do, products to build, a community to support, and we just kept on doing that. Like nothing happened.

      2 points
  • J.T. TrollmanJ.T. Trollman, over 6 years ago

    Hi Maykel! Long-time listener, first-time caller. My question is: how does the Instagram team decide what to work on next? How do you sort your priorities?

    3 points
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      There's a general vision of where we want the product to go in multiple timeframes, and what themes are set around those timeframes; 6 months, a year etc.

      From that, we break out what we can do in the next couple of months as a next step to attain that vision. Then, a lot of the design in it is actually trying to figure out what the problem is we are trying to solve, instead of designing a solution.

      Once we figure this out, we lock in and have a ruthless focus on what we should ship within what timeframe.

      2 points
  • Oliver ChankOliver Chank, over 6 years ago

    Are there any plans to easily manage multiple accounts?

    3 points
  • Tyson SoelbergTyson Soelberg, over 6 years ago

    Let's talk about the ancient iOS icon…what gives?

    :/

    2 points
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Prioritisation and brand equity.

      We're aware of it, but apart from sleeping better as a designer, there's not that much of a need there. We won't forget about it, though!

      6 points
  • Kevin LeeKevin Lee, over 6 years ago

    I figure everyone will have covered all questions regarding Instagram and design by now.

    My question is two parts:

    • How's the transition been from the Netherlands to SF?

    • How's the food compare? Is there anything you can't get your hands on in SF that you miss from back home (doesn't have to be food I suppose, but I might judge you a little if it isn't food ;) )?

    2 points
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      Haha, good questions!

      1.

      The transition has been pretty great. I was very reluctant at first to move across the world and leave my friends and family behind, but they have been nothing but extremely supportive. We try to stay in touch as best we can across a 9 hour timezone difference. This is hard at times. But the weather is great. SF has it's moody days, but that only happens 10-15% of the year.

      2. There's some dutch foods that are hard or impossible to come by: real good shwarma, a 'kapsalon' or just a 'frikandel'. San Francisco has a plethora of great food places, it's kind of ridiculous. I virtually stopped cooking after moving here, because the average food in restaurants is so good and very well priced. And then there's the great restaurants. There are so many of them, it's ridiculous.

      0 points
  • Cindy ChenCindy Chen, over 6 years ago

    kinda late to the game.. but hey Maykel! any chance for Instagram users to schedule when the post goes out? or post from the web ?

    1 point
  • Ben GoldBen Gold, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Hey Maykel,

    Just here to say I tried that cheese you recommended and it was fucking great.

    1 point
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      Haha! Awesome!

      Yeah, Mt. Tam is definitely one of my favourites. If you're in SF or ever visiting; Mission Cheese is a go to.

      1 point
  • Josh WilliamsJosh Williams, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )
    • How has Instagram influenced your approach photography?

    • Were you as passionate about photography prior to joining Instagram?

    • What's one of your favorite photos (your own or others) on Instagram and why?

    1 point
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      1./2.

      Before Instagram, I had been shooting with a DSLR since around 2004. The type of photography I was mainly focused on was performance related; live bands, DJs, parties etc.

      Because of Instagram I started to look more at the world around me and try to find the interesting shots in everyday things. And from there I actually started intentionally going out more, to explore and take photos I wouldn't have taken otherwise.

      3.

      Two of the favourites I took: - This OS X looking umbrella: http://instagram.com/p/foD436h0Nd/ - This crazy light: http://instagram.com/p/bNTUnwB0Kw/

      It's hard to point out a specific photo from others, but here are some photographers I enjoy a lot: @chrisconnolly, @danielkrieger, @danrubin, @davejohannes, @pketron and @throughthetinylens

      0 points
  • Daniël van der Winden, over 6 years ago

    How has being acquired by Facebook affected your work at Instagram? And, do you ever miss (working in) The Netherlands?

    1 point
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      1.

      Being at Facebook specifically hasn't changed the way we work a lot. Facebook has been very helpful in growing our team, but we've had to deal with this growth. Instead of being a tiny team that can only focus on one project at the same time, we can now focus on multiple. But that also means we needed some process in place to handle these multiple projects.

      2.

      I still absolutely love the Netherlands, and I wouldn't mind being there from May until September — weather wise. When it comes to work, I think I would enjoy being in or around Amsterdam, as there are some talented people and interesting digital product design related things happening there.

      Sometimes I miss it, but then I look at the weather report. ;)

      1 point
  • Jeff ShinJeff Shin, over 6 years ago

    How do you guys feel about people uploading non-square photos (cropped to square by adding white on sides) to Instagram? Do you feel that it throws off the consistency of photos? Are you guys planning on doing something to address the group of people that want to share non-square images, but have no option but to upload them to Instagram?

    1 point
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      One of our core tenets is to allow as much freedom to our community as possible, so we're okay with whatever they come up with.

      From a design perspective, we see some problems that non-square photos bring, especially with white letterboxing in grids. But it's hard to design against that.

      We don't have any plans to add any non-square formats or anything.

      1 point
      • Jeff ShinJeff Shin, over 6 years ago

        Cool. Yeah, I definitely wasn't expecting you guys to change up your iconic square format, but I wanted to hear what you guys thought of the letterboxing that's apparent on so many Instagram photos. Thanks for your response and I look forward to your guys' next updates!

        0 points
  • Armand GrilletArmand Grillet, over 6 years ago

    Hey Maykel, few questions:

    • How is organized Instagram? The Windows Phone app took months to come so I would like to know what looks like the organization between iOS/Android/WP teams.
    • You joined Instagram fairly early, when did you understand that Instagram was becoming a giant in the app industry (e.g. the day when you heard in a café two people talking about their Instragam feeds)?
    • What is your favorite photographer (on Instragram or not)?

    Thank you for this AMA!

    1 point
    • Maykel LoomansMaykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      Hey Armand, Thanks for having me!

      1.

      We're very flexible. When it comes to the type of work we do, our teams still sit together; designers sit with designers, iOS with iOS, Android, Web, Infrastructure etc.

      Apart from the type of work we do, we try to get our product teams together. So if you're working on a specific part of the product — like Direct — we have areas of the office that can be used just to focus on that. A combination of PM, Design, and Engineers will sit together for a (part of the) day to keep focus, but might split off again to do their own tasks.

      2.

      I think it was before I joined that I had the sense it was going to be pretty big. I actually joined the product in the first hour after they launched, and have used it pretty heavily since.

      The one moment that it really sunk in was the first time I saw someone at a concert take a photo with Instagram. And I looked at my former colleagues' — Jessica and Greg — faces and just couldn't stop smiling.

      3.

      Some photographers I enjoy a lot: @chrisconnolly, @danielkrieger, @danrubin, @davejohannes, @jayzombie, @moneal, @pketron and @throughthetinylens and then there are some awesome animal accounts like: @harlowandsage, @trotterpup, @winter, @ventusthecorgi etc.

      1 point
  • Julian NJulian N, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Hi Maykel,

    As a fellow Dutch Designer, I'd like to ask...:

    1. Would you return to The Netherlands? Why (not)?

    2. How did you get hired by Instagram at the time? Can you tell us something about how you came in touch and the application/hiring process? I don't mean this in a bad way, but why would Instagram hire you? How did you make the difference?

    3. How has the acquisition by Facebook influenced your work at Instagram?

    Dankjewel!

    1 point
    • Maykel LoomansMaykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      1.

      Possibly. I think the Netherlands is a great country, and it's been very fascinating to see the tech- and digital product design industry grow there in the last couple of years.

      But there's still a lot of conservative thought when it comes to digital, and a lot of naysaying. And that's not an environment I want to be in right now.

      And then there are two other reasons I love living in the Bay Area: 1. the insane amount of talented people out here 2. the weather

      2.

      It was fairly serendipitous. I was traveling around the United States, and was in San Francisco when I got an e-mail if I wanted to talk to Kevin (Systrom). So we got together in their tiny office at the time and we had a chat. We talked about the product, where it was at the time, where it was going. And we talked a little about what I'd been doing and my ambitions were.

      So then I started working for them from The Netherlands, and they seemed to like the work I was doing and I moved over.

      Why me? I think it was a combination of the body of work I had built up in the years before that as well as being able to design and do a lot of engineering.

      3.

      Being at Facebook specifically hasn't changed the way we work a lot. Growing our team has. We still work very autonomously within Facebook, yet being here has provided us with many resources and ways to quickly grow our team. And there are effects to this team growth that we have had to deal with.

      Instead of being a tiny team that can only focus on one project at the same time, we can now focus on multiple. But that also means we needed some process in place to handle these multiple projects.

      2 points
  • Louis NguyenLouis Nguyen, over 6 years ago

    What is your approach to manage multiple screens/views in Photoshop? A huge Photoshop file or splitting it into multiple files? Any strategy to sync up common/highly similar elements?

    Thanks

    1 point
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      Multiple screens generally get done in what we call a 'Map' PSD. Some times all the layers are in the PSD, nowadays I try to put them in Linked Smart Objects. But that's still a process I'm transitioning in to.

      Sadly there's little tools we have at our disposal now. I would love the ability to select a Layer Comp in a Linked Smart Object. Because that would allow you to have 1 PSD with all of your UI elements and different views into that PSD in your map file. :)

      1 point
  • Jason DinhJason Dinh, over 6 years ago

    The map view in Instagram app for iOS is still on using iOS 6 design, any particular reason for that?

    1 point
  • Corin EdwardsCorin Edwards, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Any plans for a 'series' or 'sets' feature for people like me that take pictures of the same thing over and over again?

    0 points
  • Afnizar Nur Ghifari, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    In the technology world, who your enemies are?

    0 points
  • Dominik SchmidtDominik Schmidt, over 6 years ago

    Did you study anything? If yes, what?

    0 points
  • Falko JosephFalko Joseph, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Hey Maykel, big fan of your work. Here's a few questions:

    1. What keeps you motivated, even when you're having a bad day?

    2. You're kind of a design "rockstar". When did you start getting major attention? And how do you keep up with such a reputation. Does it take it's toll sometimes?

    3. How would you compare living in the U.S. to living in the Netherlands? Is it being idealized by Western media or is it a dream worth chasing?

    4. What place would you recommend to foreigners first time visiting The Netherlands?

    Thanks for reading. Groeten uit België!

    0 points
  • Denis ShiryaevDenis Shiryaev, over 6 years ago

    Hi, Maykel! Don't you think that function like "direct" is outdated and anyone use whatsapp now and don't want to do a messenger from instagram?

    0 points
  • Dan LeveilleDan Leveille, over 6 years ago

    What's your / Instagram's thoughts on Instagram for the web? Last year, you guys launched the feed for instagram.com, but it doesn't seem like there have been improvements to it since. Is anything coming soon or are you guys focusing only on the app?

    0 points
  • Chris GriffithChris Griffith, over 6 years ago

    Hi Maykel, I lived in Holland when I was younger (in Elementary school) for three years and it was one of my favorite places that I lived! (I moved around a lot) I'm now a designer and front-end developer in the Bay Area as well, but I would love to live in Holland again - my question is, do agencies in Holland consider applications from other countries or the United States?

    I speak some Dutch, but it's fading quickly! Dankjewel!

    0 points
  • Tim Hendriks, over 6 years ago

    Hi Maykel,

    Did you attend ‘designschool’ before starting your agency, or were you self-taught?

    What are your thoughts on (design) education in general? How important is a college degree when looking for designtalent at Instagram?

    Also: do you still celebrate Sinterklaas? ;-)

    0 points
    • Maykel LoomansMaykel Loomans, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Hey Tim,

      In college, I did Communication and MultimediaDesign in Maastricht. While I definitely created some critical thinking during the course, much of what I know, love and do nowadays is self-taught.

      At it's time, the course was pretty behind in it's curriculum and had a hard time catching up. So during projects I would always try to find some new pattern or technology to learn instead of adhering to the technical guidelines of the project.

      I think that in many cases digital design education is lagging behind a lot. The reason for this is that much of the industry is moving forward so fast, that it's hard for schools to even stay on part with them. The college degree for me was important because it got me my visa. But I haven't used it at all apart from that.

      And at Instagram and Facebook we don't specifically look for a degree. You don't need a degree to be a good designer and or product thinker.

      Tangentially related: the speed at which our industry moves, while being a problem for the education systems, is actually a great blessing for people who want to learn at their own pace, at their own times.

      2 points
  • Laurie CaiLaurie Cai, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Hi Maykel,

    Any advice for potential interns interested in joining Instagram?

    0 points
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      Hey Laurie,

      Thanks for reaching out!

      We're working together heavily with the Facebook recruiting organisation for that. I expect us to start looking for interns in the next cycle. I'm not sure if we will look for interns specifically for Instagram or if one or more from Facebook will be allocated to us.

      Hope that helps!

      0 points
  • Jenny MaJenny Ma, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Hi Maykel,

    Thanks for AMA-ing! I love Instagram (a personal favorite shot I posted: http://instagram.com/p/lYtUBNByQV/)

    A few questions:

    1. Who are your top three to five favorite Instagrammers?

    2. During what part of the workflow at Instagram do you search out user research?

    3. Do you seek out user research consistently throughout project milestones?

    4. How do you collaborate with UE researchers, or do you conduct your own research?

    5. Any funny anecdotes about Instagram users or unexpected uses of Instagram?

    Thanks! Keep up the amazing work.

    Cheers, Jenny

    0 points
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      Hey Jenny,

      Thanks!

      1. @chrisconnolly, @danielkrieger, @danrubin, @pketron and @throughthetinylens (but there's way more...)

      2. Depends on the project! For some of them, research is a part of the process from day one. Research might actually be the reason why we're doing the project, and we'll dig deeper with more research as we work on the problem.

      When it comes to research studies for new products or features we're building, we try to get to a usable state as fast as possible and get people into the lab as early as we can. We have learned a lot about that in the past, especially when we were working on Photos of You and Video, and it's been invaluable.

      Getting in touch with a solid research team has been one of the best parts of joining Facebook.

      3. Yeap! Research is engrained in the design process.

      4. We have an awesome research team at Facebook that we tap in to whenever we need any help, and we're building out our own team under the leadership of an awesome guy named Andy Warr. We're actually looking for a Qual Researcher now! https://www.facebook.com/careers/department?dept=design&req=a0IA000000CzHP8MAN

      5. The ones that have been really meaningful to me are @dguttenfelder in North Korea and @syriandeveloper in Syria. And then there's @sonyayu who can make just about any dog pose for her. And @robinmay who found her husband through Instagram. Oh, and @joselourenco who makes crazy (instagram themed) art.

      1 point
      • Jenny MaJenny Ma, over 6 years ago

        Thanks, Maykel!

        Re: 2. I'm lucky to understand the joy that comes with a solid research team as well. Are Photos of You and Video features that were inspired by Instagram users, or ideas validated by users? Instagram Video is so well-executed.

        Re: 4. Uh-oh. Guess we're competing for Qual Researchers

        Re: 5. Definitely following these Instagrammers. Why wasn't I following the Instagram blog before, either?!

        Cheers, Jenny

        0 points
  • George ChenGeorge Chen, over 6 years ago

    Hey Maykel,

    Mostly comments and feedback for your team. Not so much on questions. I hope the feedback will be useful:

    • Earlier this week I got an email from Instagram to be a part of a user research. Unfortunately, the survey monkey form failed mid way... your team might need to look into that....

    • I don't mind "ads" in instagram, but please make sure the ad content is REALLY relevant to me: just because I follow and like off-road vehicles doesn't means I'm interested in luxury automative like Lexus. In fact, I hated that brand so I feel a little offended when I see a fancy Lexus photo in my stream (that I do not follow in the first place).

    • Lastly, with the advent of Vscocam, they did such a good job with their filters you need to look closely at where you guys are heading. The built in instagram filter seems very dated now.

    Best of luck and thanks!

    0 points
    • Maykel LoomansMaykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      Hey George, Thanks so much for your thoughts.

      1. We deeeefinitely need to fix that, thanks for the heads up.

      2. We are learning a lot from our very first campaigns and we're very much focused on making sure the advertising experience will be the best possible one for people who use Instagram.

      3. We're always very excited to see people build and use tools that allow more creativity on Instagram, and are always looking at how we can improve and empower people that use Instagram.

      2 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 6 years ago

    What is your design process? from "we want this" to the deploy. How many people is involved? and who says "ok this, not to this"?

    0 points
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      A lot of our design process starts with what our goals are. From there we try to define what problems we see the need to solve to hit these goals. A lot of the design work that we do is discovering and defining these problems, so we can make sure that we're designing the right solutions.

      When it comes to the amount of people that are involved, it differs. There's large and small projects. On matters of figuring it what direction we should go in; we have design reviews to decide those. Sometimes a lot of them, sometimes little. We have learned to be very flexible in this process.

      0 points
  • Jonas Maaløe, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Hey Maykel

    1. Instagram new features very sparingly. What does a typical design/decision process look like for a new feature, and how have you avoided "bloating" the service so far?

    2. Many Instagram users are using #hashtags as a way to supplement or comment on their images more than just adding them to a stream like on Twitter (#WearingMyThinkingHat #IllustratingAPoint #WowSoDeep). I've made this into a serendipity game of sorts where I try and guess how many images from strangers match a long and descriptive hashtag in my stream before I tap it, or I try and predict what type of pictures/subjects are hidden behind a generic-yet-specific hashtag (like #Blessed, #CantStop or the like). I guess my question is: What's the most interesting hashtag you've stumbled upon on Instagram?

    0 points
  • Ahmet SulekAhmet Sulek, over 6 years ago

    Hey Maykel,

    It's a great thing that you're doing this AMA.

    My question is from which sources do you get your daily inspiration and are you using a tool for it?

    0 points
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      Hey Ahmet,

      Thanks!

      Daily inspiration comes a lot from experimentation nowadays. I used to spend a lot of time scouring the internet, but a lot of digital product design is more about defining the problem and it's possible solutions. Once there is direction on potential solutions, you can do research for information in a very focused way.

      0 points
  • Daniël van der Winden, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )
    • When it comes to product design (or the product design process), are there any mistakes you regularly make and just can't seem to avoid? Or, what's the biggest mistake you've ever made in the product design process?
    • How do you feel about the state of digital design at this moment? Who should we be following and why?
    • Do you ever miss working for clients? I'm asking because I can imagine that the variety of working on different websites/products could make for a nice change of 'scenery'.
    0 points
    • Maykel LoomansMaykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      1. Never try to cut corners. And don't ever think you're right the first time around. Even though you are some times. Finally, make sure you're solving a problem. Design for design's sake is rarely a good idea.

      2. I think that we're in a very interesting place. A place where we are getting new tools, or are using them differently (Quartz Composer, Framer, Origami, Macaw, Sketch etc.) I'm pretty excited around the stuff that Koen Bok is doing with Framer. The stuff around Origami. A lot of the open source stuff that FB is doing in front-end web, like React and Flux. Pete Hunt is the guy to follow in relation to that, although he might be a little hardcore on the programming side.

      3. I absolute love product design. Client work is great for it's variability, but I really love diving deep into a product, discovering and defining problems and trying to figure out the best solution. And be proven wrong and having to figure out a different one. :)

      1 point
  • Jayna WallaceJayna Wallace, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Excited to read all of your answers! Loving this thread...

    1) What was the rationale behind switching from FourSquare's location service to Facebook? (I lost a good number of locations that I visit and post from every day.....) Is there any chance Instagram will revert to using FourSquare again?

    2) If time and money were no object, what would you be doing right now?

    3) Hamburger menu on iOS - yes or no?

    0 points
    • Maykel LoomansMaykel Loomans, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Hey Jayna,

      Thanks for the support!

      1. I can't answer that with 100% assurance, but I think a lot of it has to do with performance and reliability.

      2. I'm really happy with what I'm doing right now! I feel very lucky to have found something I was passionate about and get to do that as a job. Apart from that: I'd probably do some more traveling and make photographs all over the world.

      3. I think hamburger menu's have their place. But it's a small place where they actually make sense. If you get into a place where you would be looking at using a hamburger menu, you should ask very hard if there's a need to scope down the product, or if there isn't another way to configure the functionality.

      1 point
  • Account deleted over 6 years ago

    Thanks for the AMA! What was the most and least exciting things you’ve done this month?

    0 points
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Most exciting: Spent a week working from the Facebook office in NYC, got to know some of the awesome people there and got to enjoy the city thoroughly.

      Least exciting: Meetings and e-mail. Definitely those.

      0 points
  • Ryan LeFevreRyan LeFevre, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Hey Maykel, two questions:

    • Being an early employee of Instagram, what was the growth process there like in terms of employee size? How did it affect how things were accomplished around the company?
    • What are your favorite beers right now?

    Cheers!

    0 points
    • Maykel LoomansMaykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      Hey Ryan!

      1.

      Early on, we weren't really good at growing our team, which is why the team was only thirteen people when we were acquired. As we joined Facebook, we slowly started growing. We were being very intentional about our growth as we knew it would come with growing pains.

      And we definitely experienced those, as we tried to put more process into place the first time, and then again, and then again. More product reviews, less product reviews, a fixed time for product reviews, design product whenever deemed needed etc.

      I think that we are now in a place where we are comfortable with the review process. But we're still learning how to grow our team, yet we've become better at it.

      From a design perspective, the iOS 7 redesign also gave us some license to think about our design language, and set up a system to work with going forward.

      2.

      I will forever love Trappistes Rochefort 10. Next to that I'm a pretty big fan of Pauwel Kwak and Damnation (which to me is an american version of La Chouffe). Wherever they have a 'rotating handle' I will try whatever is on tap, though!

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      • Ryan LeFevreRyan LeFevre, over 6 years ago

        Cool, I'm always curious about how companies make that transition from small to large. There's definitely a tipping point, which I think is around 15 employees give or take, where you suddenly have to change your process because it's no longer viable.

        We do weekly demos every Friday, and now that we're up to 12 employees, it's on the verge of becoming too time consuming and too much of a hassle. We're half remote so we have to wrangle with Google Hangouts every week.

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  • Jeff MartinJeff Martin, over 6 years ago

    Thanks for the AMA! How long (on average) does it take for you or a team to finalize a design? Whether it's a small redesign or a design of a whole new product/feature like Direct? Also related, are there a lot of iterations and feedback from outside of the design team?

    0 points
    • Maykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      Hey Jeff,

      The amount of time a design takes can vary a lot. From a couple of weeks to a couple of months.

      When we look at designing and building product there are three roles at work: Design, Engineering and Product Management. Some times one isn't needed as much, other times one is blocked by the other. And all of them give feedback to each other.

      We have some very talented engineers with good sensibilities towards design that will hack a way a little just to show us what they would want to add and change. Which is a really awesome rapport to have.

      A lot of our process is based on iteration. In many cases, the design process is more about discovering what the problem is we are trying to solve than actually coming up with the final product.

      3 points
  • Jared KleinJared Klein, over 6 years ago

    Hey Maykel! How'd you end up at Instagram which was an infamously small company?

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    • Maykel LoomansMaykel Loomans, over 6 years ago

      I was traveling around the US, and was in San Francisco when I got an e-mail if I wanted to talk to Kevin. I think the company was six people then.

      So we got together in their tiny office at the time and we had a chat. We had some small talk, talked about the product, where it was going, what I'd been doing and my ambitions were. After that I met up with Shayne, who was the first engineer hired and had a chat with Mike.

      From there I got a contract to work remotely for them as a freelancer. Which meant that I was doing my workday 11AM-7PM and then I would do another work day from 8PM-3/4AM. They seemed to like the work, so I was asked to join full-time. 2011 was a pretty easy year visa wise, so we got the visa pretty quickly and I moved! :)

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