November 11, 2020
Hello my name is...

Kathy Zhou

• Product Designer @ Zoom by day ☀️
• Collector of plants by night 🌙

Favorite Emoji:
🌵
Current Color:
Sand
On the Playlist:
Chill pop, Lofi, EDM
Go-to Food:
Boba 🙈

Hi Kathy, care to share a little bit about yourself?

Hello 👋 I’m an Asian Canadian designer based in San Francisco. I’m a first gen immigrant and have spent chunks of my life in Vancouver, Beijing, Chicago, and SF. I’m easily excitable. I’m an ENTJ and a Taurus. I’m into yoga, plants, sourdough + earthy tones. I studied chemistry and computer science in college, but found my space in design. The best way to learn is to just do it! Designers can come from anywhere.

Can you tell us what you do as a Product Designer at Zoom?

At Zoom, product designers figure out how things should work. When our users run into a problem — whether it’s a teacher who needs a seating chart in a Zoom classroom or a surgeon who needs to look at tissue samples remotely over Zoom — we analyze the problem and develop a solution. We work closely with Product Managers and Engineers to spec out a solution. We design the flows and information architecture. We iterate, test, identify edge cases, and, whenever we can, we go back to the original users to figure out if our solution really does solve their problem. When the direction is finalized, we provide high fidelity mockups and prototypes to help our engineers implement the solution. After shipping, we monitor metrics + user feedback, knowing that there’s always more to do in the future.

How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?

I was lucky to have had 3 pivotal people who helped me get here.
• F founded a design studio in our school, where I first learned the tools and trends (back then it was Adobe MS5). Those years made me realize good design is *everything*.
• B saw my work and suggested I apply for a design fellowship program in his hometown. The KP fellowship helped me find my way in tech and gave me an amazing community of friends & mentors.
• S hired me at Zoom and gave me the opportunity to lead big projects. He helped me discover my strengths and gave me the space to exercise and grow them.

Surround yourself with good people and good things will happen.

What made you interested in design?

It’s the perfect field, no? You analyze problems and figure out how things should work like a scientist. Then, you execute the solution like an artist. All the while, you stay grounded in very real, human matters, because, at the end of the day, you are solving human problems!

Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?

Portfolio - it doesn’t matter whether you use SquareSpace or build it yourself. As long as it’s easy to navigate, has good information architecture, clear/concise insights, and is representative of your visual style, you are good!

Interviews - spend less than 2 minutes on process, focus on the design decisions you made in the high fidelity mocks. Make the interview a conversation, navigate it in the direction you want it to go in. Don’t wait for questions to be asked. Proactively tell the interviewer the key things that make you a great candidate.

Know the product - do your research so that in the interview, you can impress your interviewer with your take on the product they think about every single day.

3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field

Empathy, persuasion, and ability to break down complex logic.

Most difficult thing about your job?

Making trade offs. There’s no one right answer in design. You have to use the limited information you have to make the best decisions you can.

What would you like to say to your younger self?

Finding your fit takes time. Be patient, take risks, reflect on what you like and don’t like. Trust that the right thing will come along and when it does, you will know!

Best advice you've received/heard?

Spend your time on problems that are worth being worked on!

Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn more about Product Design?

Reach out to fellow product designers, read case studies, and critique everything you see for practice :)


Check out some more stories!

View all Beans