Workflowy is hiring a UX designer 👩‍🚀 💭 🚀 🌔

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May 18, 2021

I’m looking to hire a UX designer who understands the core ideas behind Workflowy. Until now, I’ve been primarily responsible for design, with some outside help. We’re growing our engineering team, though, and need a designer to keep up.

You will serve as a thought partner for me, while also making independent decisions for the product. I believe we have a chance to do some exciting things in the coming year, and I think you’ll have fun being a key part of it.

If you’d like to apply, just fill out this form. Please read on to understand what I’m looking for.

Note: If you want to help design Workflowy but aren’t looking for a job, consider becoming a Workflowy Design Advisor. What is that? We’re not 100% sure yet, but we want to give the designers who use Workflowy a chance to influence the product.

Responsibilities

  1. You will help me flesh out and iterate through ideas. They will come from many sources: me, you, our team, our users.
  2. You will help engineers execute their work on a day-to-day level
  3. You will research, define and visualize problems users are facing
  4. You will gather feedback on the ideas we’re developing (we will also work with specialized researchers)
  5. You will establish a practice of designing in public
  6. You may, depending on your personality and experience, be responsible for design process and hiring a design team.

Qualifications

You should be a UX designer, concerning yourself with all aspects of user experience. The components of UX I care most about for this position are interaction design and user research.

In terms of experience, I’m pretty flexible. I’m open to designers early their careers who have a ton of potential and enthusiasm. I’m open to senior people who have lots of hard won skills and knowledge. I’m open to everything in between.

Compensation

Salary

We have an international team spanning the US, Eastern Europe and Latin America. We pay competitive local rates (at the top of the range in less expensive locations), and will consider candidates in any location.

Growth Bonus

Additionally, we have a growth bonus paid quarterly, which is a cash payment based on our month over month growth during the period.

Design perspective

I’d like your design perspective to overlap with mine, at least to some degree, so I’ll outline that here.

I’m biased toward the IDEO perspective and human centered design. To me this means:

  • Focus on solving a problem not shipping a solution
  • Fast, low fidelity exploration/iteration
  • Lots of direct observation and feedback from a diverse set of real people.

Here are some of my opinions:

Opinions on product

1. The product should disappear

When you are using pen and paper, you aren’t aware of the pen, or the paper. You are just writing. My ambition is to build a similar experience, where the thinking tool becomes an extension of you that you are barely aware of. My ambition is to expand Workflowy so that even complex, highly structured thought processes and ideas can unfold while maintain this feeling of effortlessness.

2. The fewer the features the better.

Make the features you have as powerful as possible, and then make sure they combine synergistically. When thinking about features, attempt to think about all the things you want to enable the user to do, and then think of the minimum number of features that can most elegantly enable as many of those things as possible.

3. Our product shouldn’t shout

I want to respect people’s attention. I do not think every new feature needs to prance around in a feathered costume. Rather, the right feature should be easy to discover and use when needed.. 

4. Details matter

Making something delightful takes a lot of effort. I want the product to be a joy to use, and am willing to go through a lot of effort to make it so. There is a balance here, though, between getting all the details right and moving quickly, and you should be comfortable finding that balance.

5. Our product should solve real problems, or produce joy

We should remember that we are trying to solve problems and create joy, not just produce features. We shouldn’t build features just because people ask for them. We should understand the problem that led them to ask for the feature, and think about the most elegant way to address it.

Opinions on design process

1. Feedback trumps ideas.

We can’t know what’s going to work before it is real. For this reason, it is good to work through prototypes early and see what works. And it’s important to get feedback from real people as early as possible. If we ship without gathering feedback, we can’t make something great. At least I can’t. And if we ship and don’t integrate feedback, we’ve missed the biggest opportunity to shift a product experience from good to great.

2. Don’t argue against the bad parts of an idea. Understand the good parts of it and build on them.

I find that myself and others often latch onto the weak parts of new ideas. We interrogate the creator about those, guiding the conversation in a defensive rather that generative direction. I believe a more creative approach searches for the core insight first and elaborates on it.

Most ideas in their early phases have more bad parts than good parts, yet at their core there is usually a need, observation or idea that is truly valuable and needs to be nurtured.

3. It’s okay to throw it away

Once we prototype an idea, sometimes it just doesn’t work. It’s important to evaluate our ideas honestly once they come to life. We need to be willing to throw out the parts that don’t work, even when they’re the parts we were most excited about. Sometimes that’s the whole idea. We also, obviously, need to build on what does work.

4. There’s often no right decision, it’s all about tradeoffs

I have been struck throughout my career with how often there really is no good choice for a product decision. There is just a tradeoff, with good and bad outcomes on either side. A significant percentage of people will be unhappy about either decision I make. Making a good decision requires thinking deeply about the purpose of our product, the feature in development, and its context.

5. Be okay being wrong

This is super important to me. I’m okay being wrong, I’m happy to change my mind. It can be painful sometimes, particularly when I was really excited about an idea, but I shift. I need people I work with to have a similar mindset.

6. Talk to users

This is non-controversial at this point in history, and is embedded in everything I wrote about feedback above. But it’s worth saying again. I want someone who doesn’t understand how you can design without feedback. Feedback and design, to me, are the same. You design so you can get feedback. You get feedback so you can design.

How to apply

Look no further than this handy application form

Apply her

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Derek J Fiedler
Derek J Fiedler
4 months ago

What a joy to read your design philosophy. I don’t think I’m the best fit for the job, but I certainly enjoyed understanding the intention of you heart and mind.

Now and again, a new note taking or knowledge management app comes along and entices me with slick features. Inevitably, I stick with Workflowy and its stable yet adaptable platform. Thank you and your team for your diligence and commitment to making a great experience.

One more thing that would make Workflowy even better would be moving to a self-hosted, locally stored, open source product. I tremble at the thought of all the years of inputting my personal and work information vanishing because something happened and Workflowy is no longer. I want something that my great grandchildren can access as seamlessly as I do in Workflowy today. The cloud certainly has its advantages. I use the android mobile app often. I can share lists with my non-tech Wife. It’s awesome! But being dependent upon a browser and internet connectivity is troubling. It’s why I didn’t jump on the Roam Research wave. Embracing https://logseq.com/ principles + Workflowy design would be the best. I’m not a code developer. Is it even possible to have local storage privacy + cloud functionality?

I hope this feedback inspires your design, so the design will inspire more feedback 😉

+ Derek J Fiedler

alecos.papadatos
4 months ago

I agree. Obsidian is such a “private and safe” solution, as every note is a unique md file and pictures and pdfs are saved also in the common “vault”. But it is no… Workflowy 🙂

Мурад Рогожников
Мурад Рогожников
3 months ago

Encription and backup to plain formats – it might be a great features for the lifetime-choice.

neo7bf
neo7bf
3 months ago

There are 36 muscles in the face. It is a complex mechanism and represents about 80% of the communication of our emotions. It is effective, natural, we do not notice it. If something works naturally it becomes invisible but indispensable. I will treasure your opinions and keep them in mind in my next projects.
Alessandro Forcuti

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