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On going where few designers have gone before

Some of our most meaningful connections in life come down to a single circumstance: You had to be there.

Shared time and place deeply affect our experiences. Friends who get the inside joke and nations that remember when they heard about culture-defining events share a common thread: everyone knows where they were. Places so tightly bind us, that we fear missing out because we know we can’t fully understand parts of our world when we aren’t present.

In other words, the FOMO is real.

Often times, we just can’t be there for all the moments we care about because of…

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Blind by Design is a series focused on addressing systemic biases within design. Join us.

On ethically designing language for conversational products

“Do you want ketchup, mustard, or none?”

Amidst all the tech announcements about artificial intelligence and virtual reality, it’s almost ironic that the most fundamental form of human communication is the tech du jour.

With the rise of messaging platforms, chat as a service, and the discipline of content strategy, language is shaping up to be one of the largest investments the tech industry will make in 2016. Likewise, a few folks have asked me my thoughts on best practices for bot design.

I didn’t know, so I explored by attempting to make a simple bot to help my family…

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By Stephanie Engle and Chen Ye. Contact us

A list of stories and essays promoting inclusion by design

Blind by Design is a series focused on addressing systemic biases within design. Join us.

Anyone who has read my prior articles will notice a common thread among some: empowering the ‘outsider’ designer.

The outsiders I address tend to be those without formal design training, in part because I don’t have that experience myself. I’m naturally sensitive to the unique struggles of designers whose path into the field isn’t apparent because I identify with those circumstances.

But while I’m an outsider to design by experience, I’m not by race, socioeconomic status, age, learning abilities, and many more characteristics. These are…

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Cut the Slack, don’t shoot the Messenger. Appreciate my puns.

Scattered thoughts on Slack and Messenger’s latest announcements

Disclaimer: I’ll be working for Facebook soon, but these thoughts are my own and do not reflect those of my employer. My twin sister will be at Slack. These thoughts don’t reflect hers or Slack’s either; just an amusing aside.

As the U.S. election heats up, so too does another race to command — Command Line in Chief, that is. Slack and Messenger have emerged as the forerunners in this particular race; with their announcements this week, they each professed strong signals that they were jumping into one another’s territory.

At a glance, the history of the command line is…

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Matisse’s take on the Icarus myth

Deconstructing barriers that breed complacency and keep people out

The other day, a member of the HH Design Facebook group posted the image below to the community. A single glyph provoked a heated discussion about gender, symbols, and inclusivity.

From Paul Graham’s essays

“Outsiders should realize the advantage they have here. Being able to take risks is hugely valuable. Everyone values safety too much, both the obscure and the eminent. No one wants to look like a fool. But it’s very useful to be able to. If most of your ideas aren’t stupid, you’re probably being too conservative. You’re not bracketing the problem.”

“Up till a few years ago, writing essays was the ultimate insider’s game. Domain experts were allowed to publish essays about their field, but the pool allowed to write on general topics was about eight people who went to the…

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What democratized investment advising could be

NOTE: I have no professional affiliation with Wealthfront; I’m just a customer who’s generally happy with the product and optimistic about what it could be. This is simply an opportunity for me to exercise my design and writing chops (but not my math skills —ignore those 😁).


Wealthfront is in pursuit of making quality investing advisory accessible for the masses through its low-cost robo-advisor platform. With the help of technology and experienced advisors, Wealthfront’s platform makes investing easy by automatically distributing and rebalancing funds across diverse investments. …

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On seeking out design and making it happen

The other day, I wrote an introductory article on Product Design. The most frequent follow up question has been, “How did you get a design job at Facebook?”

This article indirectly addresses this question by highlighting the challenges I faced as someone who had little experience with design starting out, and how I overcame them. I hope it’s useful for others in a similar position!

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When “Everyone’s stories and ideas” doesn’t cut it

The other day, my mom asked me about “my blog” and told me her friends loved it. Unaware I had one, I asked, “What blog?”and she sent me a link to a Medium article I had written.

More than a blog, or even “everyone’s stories and ideas”

Medium, I know you just revamped your brand and identity, but I‘d like to tack on a few more things to your definition. Because honestly, most days on Medium, I find myself feeling like I snuck into a party I wasn’t invited to, or like I ended up in the editor’s room at some editorial.

Here are some of the other metaphors I…

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What is it? Why is it important? How do you do it?

NOTE: This post is based on a talk I gave for HackDuke. You can find the original presentation here. Please feel free to adapt any of this material for your own teaching setting (and let me know if you do!). All visuals credit Google Images, Facebook, and Airbnb. None of this work represents any individual or company’s view but my own.


Anyone can become a product designer

Hi, my name is Stephanie Engle.

I’m a Public Policy major who can’t draw and is generally afraid of Adobe software products. This past summer, Facebook trusted me to help redesign your Profiles.

I’m telling you this is because…

Stephanie Engle

Designer at Airbnb, Cruise, Facebook VR. And other redeemable qualities.

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