For Chloe Park, design lead at Lyft’s bikes and scooters division, tech wasn’t always in the cards for her. Instead, journalism and a career in media were always top of mind for Park, first as an extracurricular activity in high school, then as a major in visual journalism in college.
After graduation, Park joined USA Today at a time when the future of media was murky. But after a casual visit to see friends in San Francisco, she ended up taking a “leap of faith,” moving to the Bay Area and joining a design consultancy called Curio.
“It was the best way to jump into the tech scene because it provided such a quick overview,” Park said.
Park moved to San Francisco in 2012 at a time when Silicon Valley was bright and full of startups all clamoring to become the next Google or Facebook of the world. She did design work for brands like Shyp, Spin and Sidecar. Her proudest efforts are some of the most visible work that’s still out there, such as the OpenTable iOS app. Park was part of the team that redesigned and launched the app at the same time as the release of the new iOS 7 software. The app’s redesign was featured by Apple’s App Store and part of the iOS 7 release keynote. She also gets to see her design work at OpenTable whenever she eats out at a restaurant that’s using the iPad app.
“Still having the imprint of that color in the code base today is a funny thing to be nostalgic about,” Park noted.
Despite Park’s career moving past journalism, she says it’s still a big part of how she’s landed her other jobs.
As she thinks about her future on this path, she wants to figure out a way to coach designers into becoming great design managers—instead of solely great contributing designers.
“I care a lot about building a story and building empathy for the user, and that’s often the role of a researcher at a tech company,” Park said. “It’s about taking the design system and pushing things further and being able to talk through and evangelize your ideas. That’s what really differentiates a good and great designer. If you can’t communicate ideas, you can’t get there.”
Park starts every new job with a list of new ideas and how she wants to improve the company. But it’s not always received well because it means she hasn’t taken the time to first listen to existing employees, she said.
“Have your ideas on what you need to improve and especially while you have fresh eyes,” Park said. “But remember you’re the new one. Take the time to listen first and build those relationships so you can gain leverage when you do give your feedback properly.”
How She Got the Gig
She reconnected with Katie Dill, vp of design at Lyft. Lyft’s growing tech leadership, largely made up of women, was another aspect that attracted Park while she was a product designer across different teams at Facebook.
“At the end of the day, being a great designer is being an effective storyteller,” Park said. “Just as a journalist goes through the process of crafting a good story, designers should use stories to bridge the analysis and synthesis of data. By talking with users, or interviewing sources, we’re able to relive similar journeys, but interpret different takeaways, which ultimately should inspire the best design solutions.”