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Figma Product Design Ladder

There are 6 levels as a Product Designer at Figma. As we're still a small company, there are no official titles yet. We’re all just “Designers”, just as Engineers here are all "Engineers". There are however expectations at different levels of seniority in your career that we recognize with appropriate pay scales and responsibilities. We do not yet have a separate manager track, or a communication design track yet; hierarchy is simple and flat. There are 6 themes that we use across each level to adequately recognize the breadth of responsibilities we have as Designers, plus room for one additional focus area:

Skills chart

SkillsLevel 1Level 2Level 3Level 4Level 5Level 6
🧠
Product Strategy
You ask good questions to clarify objectives of the project. You understand basic project goals.

You partner with more senior product / eng / design leaders to ensure you’re on the right track before getting too deep into a project.

You properly research the product landscape, and validate needs through our customers (via channels like helpscout, twitter, in person interviews)
You can read and interpret product requirements, and present multiple paths forward early on

You occasionally proactively identify gaps or improvement areas in the problem definitions you are working in

You understand the voice of the customer, and leverage research to make well-informed product decisions. You justify ideas based on real evidence vs just intuition

You’re starting to understand and recognize industry patterns and trends
You deeply understand the current tooling industry and landscape, rarely missing a beat on how your projects would fit into existing customer workflows

You know when to focus on the big picture vs zoom into the details

You’re deepening product and domain expertise, regularly participating in research
Can handle complex product challenges, often involving a strong understanding of technical, development, or business aspects

Rapidly understands project requirements, frequently filling in gaps of understanding or accurately listing trade-offs

Recognizes if consensus isn't being reached, and able to help start guiding it and narrow in from diverging directions using a thorough product and customer understanding
Able to consistently build consensus amongst peers and stakeholders on product decisions to drive projects forward

Deeply understands qualitative, and quantitative reasonings and can apply them appropriately to help make product decisions.

Not only helps ensure your core team is working on the right thing, but catches opportunities in other product areas
Clear subject-matter expert on our product, and strong intuition on what’s needed to move objectives forward.

Provides substantial input on project requirements, and has an excellent judgement on how the team could effectively spend their time

Frequently looked to for guidance on strategic direction.

Able to lead and conduct appropriate research and interpret analysis effectively into designs
🛠
Craft & Quality
Your work demonstrates awareness of existing patterns

You seek feedback from more seasoned members of the team to ensure adherence to Figma’s design principles

Gestalt principles and fundamental hierarchy is clear. You strive for simplicity.
You take the time to understand our design system and lean on existing patterns

You understand and adhere to Figma’s design principles with a decreasing need for guidance
Your work is crisp and thorough — very few pixel-artifacts, misalignments, or issues with gestalt principles

You have a keen awareness of existing patterns bias toward leveraging familiarity over novelty

Your work is a great example of adhering to Figma’s design principles, and others are starting to leverage your work
Designs are consistently a shining example of completeness; people rarely need clarification on design details like hover states, edge cases, and screen sizes.

You deeply understand industry patterns, and can identify how and when they are effective. You only create new ones as needed, and you validate them with research.
Sets the bar for quality at Figma. People look up to this persons work, and often follow their patterns or examples.

Everything is pixel sharp, perfectly aligned, and in line with Figma Design Principles when needed.

Influences the completeness of other projects
Consistently produces designs that raise the collective quality bar — in some cases raising the industry bar

Makes meaningful contributions to design patterns that others leverage regularly

Has a keen eye on maintaining quality across the entire product, not only their realm of responsibility
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Communication & Collaboration
You share your work regularly (~1x a week) in design critique

You take feedback graciously

You are able to explain what the goals of your project are when presenting your work, keeping context clear

You actively listen to your respective engineers and PMs, and engage in dialog constructively with respect and an open mind
You are comfortable presenting work to broader stakeholders with clear communication

You document your decision making in a way that’s clear and easy for others to understand

You demonstrate receiving feedback well, rarely getting defensive
You care less about “being right” and more about helping your team move forward

Can easily explain rationale for design decisions within a larger context

Regularly share design work and directly clue in XFN partners when needed to encourage an open design culture

You document your thinking in a way that’s accessible and easy for others to digest and provide feedback on
You are able to delegate with ease and comfort if a project requires it

You can comfortably engage any stakeholder and provide clear context on project status and rationale

You are a model recipient of feedback — not only handling it constructively, but actively modeling it to help others
Regularly shares context and information rather than hoarding knowledge to ensure both immediate team and other teams understand project work

Undeterred by setbacks, setting an example for positivity and forward-progress during conflicts and challenges

Demonstrates confidence without arrogance
Actively promotes company culture and values — seen as a role model for collaboration.

Despite seniority and expert knowledge, always acts with humility and without ego

Finds ways to improve process and communication to improve the way information is shared

Can present and represent project work confidently before company
🚀
Action & Impact
You are able to meet project deadlines, not holding up engineering for too long

You check in with your PM/Eng to ensure you’re helping keep the project on track

Your work ships into the world, and you ask questions to understand its impact
You are able to meet project deadlines, occasionally ahead of schedule

You help follow-up with your teams bugs regularly, actively unblocking your team

You ship work regularly, and you understand it’s impact on the business
You understand perfect is the enemy of good, and push work through

You file bugs actively on a regular basis

You are consistent and reliable, always following through

You focus on projects that are of utmost importance to moving the company forward
You set an example for producing work. People see you as a “doer”, and can depend on you for getting things done

You’re able to break down big problems into smaller achievable ones to make forward progress rather than getting stuck in the abstract

You prefer to focus on high business impact projects — staying focused on initiatives that truly help our customers or bottom line
Drives to not only be on schedule, but consistently ahead of schedule

You work on highly impactful projects, and help encourage others to keep that same relentless focus on what's important

You’re among the most frequent bug-filer, constantly creating positive impact on multiple areas of the product
Your impact is felt in multiple areas of the company

Lead by example — you never hesitate to get your hands dirty, filing bugs left and right and guiding others toward positive action

Frequently suggests and executes extra projects outside of core duties
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Leveling Up Others
You participate in hiring processes as needed

You refer candidates you are interested in working with
You regularly participate in design team meetings, critiques, and events

You seek to provide actionable feedback to others projects when possible
Provides clear actionable feedback actively and regularly during critiques

Seeks opportunities to help others — offers assistance outside of their standard set of projects

Can start to help facilitate critiques if needed
You can comfortably run and facilitate design team processes effectively

Others actively seek your feedback, and listen to your guidance

You've offered improvements to team processes like critiques and team meetings
You inspire the team and attract top talent to the company

Regularly coach members of the design team

Help educate others outside of the design team on the value and processes of design

You've implemented improvements to team processes like critiques and team meetings
Incredibly strong leadership and coaching abilities — regularly being sought out for mentorship, as well as proactively providing it to improve others ability to work

Demonstrates the value of design, helping non-designers understand its impact. When you work with others, they consistently learn from you and bring those learnings to other aspects of their work.

Learning from you is a reason some employees cite wanting to join the company

You've implemented and sometimes defined team processes like critiques and team meetings
👌
Independence
You are able to take on tasks with some amount of supervisionYour work is starting to require less oversight from the team

You begin identifying opportunities on your own, and bringing them to your team
You are consistently able to “unblock” self so as to never be stalled or idle

No one feels they need to supervise your day-to-day
You are self-sufficient and motivated to get things done on your ownYou are completely trusted to identify what needs to get done on a day to day basis, and push forward on your own as neededNo oversight required — consistently trusted to get things done independently

Excellent judgment on how to spend time in ways best for the business

Individual Level Breakdown

Exported from Notion. Last updated: Jan 2020