Geoff Teehan is a Product Design Director at Facebook working on News Feed, Interfaces and Feed Ads with his teams. Previously, he was one of the co-founders of the influential Toronto-based design agency Teehan+Lax. Recently we had the opportunity to chat with Geoff about his current role, what he's learned in the year since shutting down Teehan+Lax, and some of his philosophies for maintaining a productive work environment for him and his teams. Geoff is a refreshingly candid individual and offers great insights for both product managers and young designers.
Tell us about what your current role is and a little bit about what that encompasses?
I’m one of the Product Design Directors here at Facebook and I’m in charge of three main groups: News Feed, Interfaces and Feed Ads. Interfaces is our way of keeping standards and guidelines across all of Facebook. It’s the group that looks holistically across the entire experience. There are other teams–like Search, Profile, Notifications, etc–that are in charge of some very specific areas of the application. As a result there’s not one group looking after the whole platform outside of Interface. Its role is to create standards and guidelines and make sure that the experience is great. There’s a design manager that I have working with me on that, as well as a team of about 10 or so designers.
Feed Ads is the advertising experience that you see on the News Feed–the design manager on that is Jessica Watson–and she has a team of about 6 designers. Then there’s News Feed. I act as a design manager for that as well as the director and I have about 8 designers on that team. In total, my whole group is about 25 people and we oversee a lot of the bigger parts of Facebook. Since I act as design manager on News Feed, it’s where I spend the bulk of my time. I’m involved on projects inside of that group, and other groups, but primarily the bulk of my time is spent inside of News Feed. As a little side project, our team works closely with the Interfaces team and we have been publishing a lot of design resources, tools and files that help the broader design community outside of Facebook.