The Year of the Looking Glass


The Year of the Looking Glass is the title of a collection of essays by Julie Zhou on Medium. There is no shortage of design-related essays on Medium, many of them quite useful, but Julie’s essays really stand out, and if you are like me, once you have read one of them you will probably want to (and should) read them all. She is the Product Design Director at a little company you may have heard about called Facebook, and many of her essays are based on real-life situations that she has run into at work – it’s tremendously useful and interesting to see how she approaches things like managerial accountability and how to deal with difficult conversations for an elite design team at a company the size of Facebook. There is also some more directly design-related writing, like the excellent, thoughtful chart in her article What Kind of Design Work Should I Do?, which I think should be mandatory reading for any design student…The real appeal, however, is in how she writes – she has a lot of heart, humor and empathy in her work and it is a delight to read. She understands that actually being a competent designer is only half of your job, the other half is understanding people and roles and organizations and frameworks and processes and expectations – a lot of very important stuff that is not necessarily taught in design classes. You can really feel how much she cares about this stuff, and that she wants to help her readers be better at their jobs. There is a lot to learn from her, and we are lucky that she has taken the time to share with us.