Facebook's Internal Design Manifesto

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To get where it is, Facebook’s design and user interface team certainly has done something right (they have also made a few very public mistakes).

Here’s the principles they used to design the look and feel of the fastest growing global social network (h/t to Facebook’s design team):

As with any design organization, there are certain beliefs we hold at Facebook, certain qualities that we strive for in our work. It’s what enables us to debate whether something “Is Facebook” or “Isn’t Facebook,” it’s what allows us to evaluate whether anything we’re designing could be improved. It’s our Design Principles, and today we’re excited to share them with you.

Those of you familiar with Facebook’s design over the years will likely not find any of our principles surprising. All the same, we’ve found it helpful to have these defined and written out in words, to tell the story of how our design team works and how it may be different from other design organizations. Over time we hope to go more in-depth into each principle listed here and give examples of how we’ve used them in our day-to-day.

The following are our Design Principles. At Facebook, our design is…

Universal

Our mission is to make the entire world more open, and this means reaching every corner, every person. So our design needs to work for everyone, every culture, every language, every device, every stage of life. This is why we build products that work for 90% of users and cut away features that only work for just a minority, even if we step back in the short term.

Human

Users return to our site to be surrounded by friends and other people near to them. This is a central promise of our product, that the people you care about are all in one place. This is why our voice and visual style stay in the background, behind people’s voices, people’s faces, and people’s expression.

Clean

Our visual style is clean and understated, to create a blank canvas on which our users live. A minimal, well-lit space encourages participation and honest transparent communication. Clean is the not the easiest approach to visual style. To the contrary, margins and type scale, washes and color become more important as we reduce the number of styles we rely on.

Consistent

We invest our time wisely, by embracing patterns, recognizing that our usability is greatly improved when similar parts are expressed in similar ways. Our interactions speak to users with a single voice, building trust. Reduce, reuse, don’t redesign.

Useful

Our product is more utility than entertainment, meant for repeated daily use, providing value efficiently. This is why our core interactions, the ones users engage daily, are streamlined, purged of unnecessary clicks and wasted space.

Fast

We value our users time more than our own. We recognize faster experiences are more efficient and feel more effortless. As such, site performance is something our users should never notice. Our site should move as fast as we do.

Transparent

Users trust us with their identity, their photos, their thoughts and conversation. We reciprocate with the utmost honesty and transparency. We are clear and up front about what’s happening and why.

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8 comments

  1. Yolanda Ma

    Hey Thomas, thanks for your sharing at HKU today! It was inspiring and a great show of Ogilvy spirit. The debate was very interesting, and I was more on your side to be more optimistic about social media and online stuff. I've added your blog to my reader and will keep an eye on the changes in the industry!

  2. Yolanda Ma

    Hey Thomas, thanks for your sharing at HKU today! It was inspiring and a great show of Ogilvy spirit. The debate was very interesting, and I was more on your side to be more optimistic about social media and online stuff. I've added your blog to my reader and will keep an eye on the changes in the industry!

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