Today on tap on insta5 we have Geoffrey Brown. Geoff is a product designer at Twitter. Geoff is really interested in making interfaces that are easy, simple, and very effective. I was so happy that he agreed to do my interview.
Q. What is it like working for Twitter?
A. Working for Twitter is an opportunity to genuinely help change the world. Rarely does someone have the ability to help ship a product to millions of people, living anywhere from San Francisco to Shanghai. Millions! And because of that (and for many more reasons) I feel really lucky to be here. I’m thankful. Design and engineering embody huge responsibilities, and knowing that actual human beings will someday use what I design is, well, in the actual sense of the word: awesome. More interesting, however, is the opportunity to help power some of the important conversations that are happening across the planet; whether those conversations are about pop stars, political movements, art, technology, social justice or whatever: Twitter is part of the social undercurrent. Included in all of this is the opportunity to work with brilliant people at the top of their game. As I said, I’m lucky. Working at Twitter is humbling, because its very fabric is people. You and me.
Q. What is the future of Twitter?
A. We all collectively define the future of Twitter, just by participating. Let’s keep making that happen.
Q. If you were the head of twitter for one day what would you do and why?
A. [REDACTED] but I would definitely keep buying Redbull. The sugarless kind. That, and never stop ordering bacon ;)
Q. Why/How/When did you get in design?
A. I found design late. Later then most, I’d suspect. I had about exactly one art class in high school. Growing up, I didn’t know anything about design, and it never factored much into my day to day life. But I always loved simple things. Book covers set only in type, shirts without logos. Straightforward things. In fact, I never really considered design as a career until I accidentally fell into it in college, when my assigned-to-me roommate got differed from film school and was placed into the emerging New Media Design & Imaging program at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I was a business marketing person then, thinking about microeconomics. I hated every second of it, and it showed. I remember watching my roommate churn out animations of balls bouncing in Macromedia Director 8.5 (which had just come out!) and being amazed that this time-based stuff was happening with code. This experience sparked my passion to really create things for the Web. I learned a lot about Paul Rand and Jan Tschichold. I found my way to David Kelley. Hillman Curtis was a hero. I read “Flash to the Core,” and watched “The FWA” daily. I lived it, and I still do.
Q. What do you think is the key to great design?
A. Jack Schulze nailed it in his interview with Kicker Studios from a while back: “Design is about cultural invention.” I couldn’t be more on the same page. Great design is paving our way towards a supernova of a bright future. We need to invent and innovate as we go. Design is about looking up. Less is more is a fallacy. Just enough is right. The best solution is the solution with the most appropriate restraint for the opportunity at hand. A lot has been written about what makes for great design, so I won’t drone on. But! If there is something that I fundamentally believe, it’s that a key to great design is understanding human beings. We as designers have a responsibility to uncover human motivations, and design towards what we discover. Then rip it all down, and start again. Do it better next time. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Here is what I drew up for Geoff.