Tell us about your role and journey so far at DoorDash.
I’m a product designer on the Consumer team, which means I work mainly on our customer-facing products, like the app and the website. I work closely with the Engineering team, and I partner with a product manager. I came from a design agency background where I would work really hard on something and never really see how it got implemented. I joined DoorDash because I wanted to build things people would use, and then adapt the design and change the output based on user feedback. As part of the core team, I work on the infrastructure and details of the existing app experience, and I focus on improving that experience for our customers in areas like ordering, store, and checkout.
When I started at DoorDash three years ago, I was one of five designers, and I was the only person working on our entire consumer product. As we’ve grown, the number of people I collaborate with has increased as well. Growth presents an opportunity to hear more perspectives and to balance different kinds of feedback from a range of stakeholders. Right now, we have a “best of both worlds” situation—DoorDash still feels like a small company with startup energy at times, but we’re also setting up more systems to prepare for long-term success and growth.
Right now, we have a “best of both worlds” situation—DoorDash still feels like a small company with startup energy at times, but we’re also setting up more systems to prepare for long-term success and growth.
What are you working on right now?
This week, we’ve been redoing the cart and checkout processes. Checkout is an interesting challenge because so many of our teams touch this area and the stakes are higher—if customers can’t check out, then the entire system fails and our business doesn’t work.
We’re collaborating across a range of different teams—Engineering, Operations, Strategy, and Legal—to build new architecture and completely refresh the design. We want to build the cart in a way that helps customers understand exactly what they’re ordering, how they’re getting it, and what it costs. A big part of our role is to align around what customers need, then walk them through potential designs and get their feedback on our prototypes.
What are some challenges and opportunities you’ve encountered?
Early in my time at DoorDash, I would get a lot of pushback on design changes, and I didn’t understand where the feedback was coming from. After talking to stakeholders and understanding their perspectives, I realized that small changes to design could have a large impact on financials—the amount Dashers, Merchants, and DoorDash as a company earned on a given transaction. That impact is especially apparent on the pricing screen, where a Dasher’s tip could be directly affected by the way we lay out the page. Now that I understand how small changes can have a ripple effect, I’m able to integrate feedback more effectively. If you’re close to a problem, it’s really helpful to dig into all of the details that affect design decisions.
I also love customer research and finding new opportunities as we learn more about the different needs of our customers. It’s easy to focus on the city use case: “We live in San Francisco; I order in San Francisco.” But we design for so many types of customers, and people who live in the suburbs or more rural areas have really different needs. As we expand internationally, we need to consider how we keep all our customers in mind. We ask ourselves, “What are the norms we need to design for to make sure we’re building things in the right way?” For example, we have to consider including different languages. Those challenges are another chance to think creatively about how to build DoorDash and think of it more as a platform, not just as a one-off product.
One customer we spoke to recently was interested in bundling multiple orders from multiple restaurants, because he and his partner often couldn’t agree on what they wanted for dinner. A lot of parents ask to see the ingredients in a specific dish because their kids have allergies or are picky eaters. That’s a fun challenge for me because I was super picky as a kid. I didn’t eat anything, and I always wanted to know every single ingredient on my plate, so I can really empathize there. As we grow, we have a lot of room to design around those specific use cases.
What do you love about the Design team culture, and what do you think is important for potential candidates to know?
On the Design team, we try to bring empathy to every interaction with Customers, Merchants, Dashers, and of course our colleagues, too. Everyone here has ideas and wants to be part of the collaborative process—we do our best to listen to everyone and integrate their suggestions when possible. When we launch a new feature, for example, we open up a Slack channel and ask employees to give us feedback. Everyone from Sales to Operations to Strategy shares great product feedback, ideas, and new feature requests.
On the Design team, we try to bring empathy to every interaction with Customers, Merchants, Dashers, and of course our colleagues, too.
One thing that’s been amazing to me is just how much everyone at DoorDash cares about their work. Every single person I speak to has a different story and a different desire to make things better here, and that attitude is really motivating. Everyone can be their authentic selves here, and I think that’s influenced how happy I am at work. I have my quirks and I’m definitely a weird individual, so being able to nerd out with my team is really fun.
When candidates ask about our culture, I usually say it’s more important to be able to work and learn quickly than to have the best design skills on the planet. We work diligently and get things done, but not to the point where anybody is freaking out. That faster working style may be something for people from bigger companies to get used to. No one here is content with the way things are. We rarely say, “mission accomplished, we’re done.” We’re always looking for one small detail that could make a product a bit better. The opportunity in our industry is always growing, so there are constantly new verticals and areas to work on.
What challenges or opportunities are you looking forward to as DoorDash grows?
Over the past year, I’ve noticed a bigger sense of community, not just in San Francisco but across the country. As a company, we’ve focused on supporting local businesses, especially while so many businesses can’t host customers indoors. I love asking Merchants, “How do we make an experience that matches the one a customer would get at your restaurant?”
So much of our design is about trying to tell the stories of our various restaurants, including the history behind the owners and the many iterations they’ve taken to get where they are today. We have a huge opportunity to incorporate those stories while providing an amazing experience. When a customer learns the restaurant’s backstory and supports their local community, they feel connected. Those connections may not be business metrics we can track, but they make an impact. I’m excited to continue creating good experiences for everyone who uses the app. I’m always asking, “How can we design that better?”