Below is a list of frequently asked questions about Automattic Design.
Have a question that isn’t listed here? Get in touch!
How many steps are there in your recruitment process?
The hiring process consists of asynchronous, and synchronous conversations. If these go well, we’ll invite you to complete a paid trial project.
The trial project is something you can work on as you have time. It’s an opportunity for us to see how you approach a problem, and for you to understand how we communicate and collaborate here at Automattic.
What does the design trial look like? What level of commitment are you asking for?
Design trials take place on P2 (our internal blogging system). You’ll receive a brief outlining the project and its goals. You’ll also be assigned a buddy who is an Automattic designer. Your buddy is responsible for providing feedback and guidance during the trial.
The trial brief breaks the project into different stages, one for problem definition and solution exploration, another for wireframes/flows, and a final one for high fidelity/prototyping.
We suggest limiting your time on the trial project to one week, putting in about 8-12 hours total. Exactly how and when you schedule that is entirely up to you.
Read more about our trial experience here.
Which team or project will I be working on? Are you recruiting for a specific product?
Designers at Automattic are hired in a centralized fashion, meaning we’ll assess you for every open position to find the best match. Based on the results of your successful trial project, the hiring team makes a recommendation that best aligns with your skills, experience, and goals. We believe this is the best way to set you up for success at Automattic.
Do I have a say in what team/product I work on?
As mentioned above, we’ll assess you for every position and find the best match. If, after six months on a team, you don’t feel like it’s the right fit, you can ask for a rotation to another team, or a team switch.
Rotations, which typically last 3-6 months, are encouraged at Automattic to build experience across teams and products. Team switches offer reassignment to another team that needs your skills.
How are teams built? Is it geographical? Or by time zone?
We assemble teams to best serve the goals of each business unit, taking into consideration the talent and capabilities of each designer. As/when business goals change, we reassess the teams to ensure we have the right complement of designers. Since we work remotely, in a distributed, and asynchronous way, geography and time zone usually do not play a large role in how teams are assembled.
How many designers work Automattic, how is the team structured?
There are currently just over 80 designers working at Automattic. Designers work on teams and/or squads within business units that typically align with a product, or collection of products. At the moment, we have nine design teams, with varied squads within them.
Automattic Design is led by our Design Council (DC): Pablo Honey, and Kelly Hoffman. They are the design leadership team tasked with guiding team/squad leads, and bettering the impact of design for Automattic as a whole.
Automattic Design is supported by the Designer Experience team, tasked with providing a strong onboarding experience, rich learning/professional growth programs, and fun and inspiring culture and community programs. Read more about the Designer Experience team.
How we work
What is the typical day of a designer at Automattic like?
Everyone at Automattic is encouraged to set up their workday to best suit their individual needs, while providing value and impact against our goals. We expect designers to spend most of their time doing design work, and keeping a steady pace of shipping projects. In this article, you can read more about how one of our designers organizes their daily work.
How does the design team collaborate?
Design teams typically have a weekly call to review work and give feedback to one another. Teams also have their Slack channels where they share in-progress work for feedback throughout the week. Design iterations are posted on P2, our main communication tool, for further feedback. Anything shared on P2 is open to collaboration and feedback from anyone around the company, in fact, it’s encouraged.
Within the Design Org we’ve implemented “Design Snaps”, where, every other week, each team posts their recent work. It’s a great way to understand what all teams are working on, and to recognize and celebrate contributions.
Some suggested reading about collaboration: Diversity in Ideation, We’re Stewards, Not Owners: User Experience and Open Source.
How does the team communicate usually?
Communication is oxygen at Automattic.
Generally, we communicate asynchronously, in written form, as much as possible given that most teams have people spread across many time zones around the world. Even standups are often done async in Slack. Weekly synchronous video calls are used to discuss projects, priorities, and to get to know one another.
Some suggested reading about communication: Diversity in Ideation, How to Be a Neurodiversity Ally, Build effective remote design teams with the right communication model.
Are the teams usually working in sprints? How are projects managed? Are there project managers?
Teams organize their work in various ways to best suit their projects. Some teams employ agile methodologies, while others have developed their own custom approach. Roles on teams are equally varied based on team needs.
Are designers working with data? Do we have data analysts?
We expect all product designers to have a basic understanding of how to use and manage data to inform their work as/when necessary. Many methods and tools are available, and teams define their use from project to project.
The design organization does not currently employ dedicated data analysts. However, Automattic employs many data professionals with whom collaboration is encouraged.
How do designers work with the users regarding interviews and testing? Is it also async? Do we have a research team that supports Designers?
Teams run user testing sessions with their preferred methodology and tools. Sometimes teams conduct 1:1 interviews, and sometimes they conduct surveys, or use other quantitative methods.
The design organization does not currently employ a dedicated research team. We are considering expanding the team with a research squad.
Some suggested reading about design research: We’re all ears, Building a Process for Design Research.
How do you share feedback? Do you have specific design crits or structured feedback sessions?
Each team has its own rituals. For example, some teams have product focused design critiques (weekly) and team-level critiques (weekly). We also promote async feedback, where people can share work in progress on Slack or P2 to get additional feedback.
In general, we have a very strong feedback culture where anyone can share their voice. In Design, we post iterations to P2 for our colleagues to provide feedback. The expectation is that you will give your teammates a fair amount of time, ideally within 24-48 hours, to review your work and provide feedback. There’s no expectation of receiving feedback immediately, as you would in a synchronous environment. The result is that feedback is meaningful and considered, not knee-jerk and reactive.
Design careers and growth
What kind of career opportunities are there at Automattic? What can I achieve during my career in the Design team?
Automattic is a ‘choose your own adventure’ workplace where work that makes an impact is most important. It’s not about what your title says, but about what you do. You’ll have lots of autonomy to shape your career and your contributions to best use your talents and skills.
Opportunities to learn and grow abound, from team rotations, mentorship, coaching, peer learning programs, or professional development through books, training courses, and workshops.
Does Automattic have a formal career ladder or path for designers?
We don’t operate with the traditional career laddering approach, and maintain a very flat organizational hierarchy. This means that we’re adaptable, and nimble, able to quickly adjust teams to take on challenges. As we continue to grow, we expect to have opportunities for anyone to take up lead positions, to lead projects and initiatives that have strategic impact.
Does Automattic provide guidance to progress into a leadership role?
Yes! Automattic provides professional career coaching to all employees to help set and accelerate professional goals in a confidential and supportive environment. The Designer Experience team also offers a design mentoring program that pairs designers in a thoughtful manner that benefits both the mentee and the mentor.
Our internal Learn team also offers myriad courses, coaching, workshops and training on many topics, including leadership.