As a product design snootern on the Live Team, I designed and shipped features for Reddit Chat across 2 sprint cycles. I collaborated with product managers, engineers, and designers to ideate new live and core chat experiences across mobile and desktop.
Mentors: Robinson Scott (Staff Product Designer), Donny Guy (Design Director), Inga Hampton (Product Designer)
Duration: June to August 2022
Role: Product Design
My time at Reddit was spent rapidly designing and iterating upon features to be shipped for Reddit's Live Chat and core Chat products. While most of my work is still under NDA, 3 of these features have since been developed and shipped as shown below.
But First... What is Reddit Live Chat?
Live chats are real-time conversations where redditors can discuss and react to each other live. Examples of live chats include live events (e.g. game day matches, episode premieres, tech launches, news) or casual conversation lounges for redditors to connect with one another.
1. Alerting Users of New Reactions
How do we notify users that they can react to messages within a chat and thus increase engagement within synchronous conversations?
An integrated redditbot comment to alert users they can react to messages within the chat.
While he tooltip (left) and popup message (middle) were attention-grabbing, they ultimately felt too fleeting or distracting. I based the redditbot comment (right) on the design of a new pinned messages feature for chat we were also creating at the time. The comment felt well-integrated within the chat and also had the benefit of not quickly disappearing after further screen interactions, unlike the other solutions. I thus iterated upon this third design.
2. Core + Live Chat Merger
How can we design a way for users to engage with all their synchronous conversations in one surface?
Previously, there was no easy way for Redditors to return to all their live chat conversations since each of them could only be accessed through its respective subreddit, fragmenting the live chat experience.
A new way for Reddit users to return to all their synchronous or asynchronous conversations within the mobile and desktop chat tab.
3. The Live Discovery Page
Given the redesigned chat tab, how can users more easily discover live conversations they're interested in and differentiate between conversations they have already joined versus have yet to discover?
A new way for users to discover both live chats and talks within the chat tab.
I also created dark mode specs for this feature.
One important aspect of designing this feature was exploring how various types of Reddit conversations, such as talks and direct messages, could fit in the redesigned chat tab alongside live chats. Thus, I initially designed the Discover Live screen such that users could find all currently live and upcoming conversations and set reminders for when an upcoming conversation would start.
Further iteration resulted in the removal of the Live and Upcoming filters in favor of Chat and Talk. To ensure better discovery of new conversations, 3 subcategories were added per filter: Communities you follow, Recommended, and Popular, giving users the ability to easily find new and trusted sources of synchronous engagement.
Additionally, I continued to experiment with the styling of the chat and talk icons, filling in the logos in order to increase their visibility. I also eventually moved the icons into the profile image space so as to reduce crowding on the metadata line.
Designing at Reddit also gave me numerous opportunities to hone my product thinking skills. Here are some of the most valuable lessons I picked up:
Meeting vs. Exceeding the Spec
It's important to design according to a PM's requirements, but great product designers also push for more ambitious or creative solutions to show what’s possible for a feature. Providing PMs with multiple designs that can meet and exceed the spec is invaluable to product teams.
The ability to build on top of other people's ideas and not just defend your own as a designer is essential to collaboration. Design teams work together most productively when they recognize the value of each other's ideas, even if they still require further adjustment.
It's essential to know engineering limitations as a designer, and the best way to ensure your designs will be implementable is to communicate early on with engineering partners. Ensuring engineering is involved early on within the product cycle prevents wasted design efforts and can help inform smarter creative decision-making.
Reddit taught me so much about what it's like to design for a business that at its core has always been about fostering community. Over the 17 years it's existed, Reddit has undergone immense visual and product design transformations, and its users have often been critical over these changes. However, Reddit's dedicated fanbase and unique attraction among netizens is still indicative of how deeply it pays attention to making something that people love. As a designer, I couldn't have asked for a better place to grow and receive mentorship my final summer before graduation.