Mission driven

Company size

  • 2,200


  • San Francisco, CA


  • Social Networking
  • Software

If having a strong design culture can be a superpower, then Pinterest has it in spades. With designer Evan Sharp on their founding team, they’ve created a designer-friendly culture that emphasizes humility and a focus on the user and the product.


We look for really humble people who aren’t here for the IPO, who are here for the users.

Meredith Black

Head of Design Operations, Pinterest

But it’s not just the design team that believes in the power of design. The whole organization believes in working cross-functionally when creating new features or products. They also trust in the power of showing work before it’s done: “We show work when it’s raw,” says Meredith Black, Head of Design Operations at Pinterest.

We also spoke with Black about how this emphasis on a design-driven culture has additional benefits, like with recruiting and employee retention.

Attrition here is super low, because people like each other! It’s all about right people, right culture.

Meredith Black

Head of Design Operations, Pinterest

Pinterest focuses not only on creating a great product for their users, but on creating a culture that celebrates design and nurtures design talent. By providing alternate, non-managerial options for career advancement—like the Creative Director role—Pinterest has been able to grow rapidly and maintain a reputation as a great place for designers to thrive.


Business priorities

Design always starts with a cross-functional team, and every project has a brief. All along the way, the research team ensures there is a connection to the needs of the customer.

Design starts with the business priorities that the company needs, then narrows down into the product teams.

Meredith Black

Head of Design Operations, Pinterest


Sometimes, projects begin with IDEO-style workshops to test new ideas or get teams moving forward when they are stuck on an challenging problem.

Our team is currently using InVision in a one-week workshop to communicate the final presentation to our cross-functional partners.

Meredith Black

Head of Design Operations, Pinterest


Prototypes are created to quickly validate concepts.

This week, one of our designers used InVision to prototype a new audience insights interaction.

Meredith Black

Head of Design Operations, Pinterest


The team tests new features by rolling out to a percentage of users experimentally. A combination of qualitative and quantitative metrics are used to gauge the success of these experiments.

Roll out

Features that pass the experimental phase are gradually rolled out to the user base.

Org design

A hybrid approach, which is common in large enterprises, blends multiple organizational models and run different models in parallel. In hybrid structures, an organization might position designers in a temporary cross-functional team to work on a focused project with a clear deadline. When they’re done, they return to the centralized design team.

Design at the top

Designer and co-founder Evan Sharp reports directly to the CEO.

Advancing without managing

Pinterest's “north star” is the creative director, which is a role for people who want to advance but don't want to manage people.

One of the most important parts of our org structure is that while we hire generalist product designers, we also know that some are stronger in certain areas than others (i.e. someone may be stronger in visual design, and another might be stronger in UI). When we set up the teams we make sure that we have members that can complement each other and their skill-sets, so that they work together on the best possible outcome.

Meredith Black

Head of Design Operations, Pinterest

Another common hybrid model strategy is to distribute designers in cross-functional teams, but pull them back together for design reviews, stand-ups, and fireside chats, which helps designers maintain peer connection even when isolated in teams dominated by engineers.

Many large companies position the design system team as the hub of design culture, where embedded designers return for discussion about creating a unified customer experience across platforms and products.


  • Provides flexibility to tailor org structure
  • Team can meet immediate needs of the organization


  • Hybrid org structures can get complex
  • Can be hard to operationalize process
As we scale and grow the team, we are finding that titles are important; we want to make sure there are clear paths/goals to achieve these roles.

Meredith Black

Head of Design Operations, Pinterest

How Pinterest uses InVision

  • As a reference for the engineering team when building products
  • Socializing designs with other teams
  • For user research, to connect with customers and get feedback
  • Creating prototypes to quickly validate concepts
Overall, the majority of our Partners use InVision on a daily basis. We use it to prototype designs and show interactions and transitions throughout a page or a multi-step design. It's used mostly to help communicate to engineers, PM, and marketing how a design will look and feel before it's built. It also has served as a reference for engineers when building, to understand the interactions and to build it properly. We’ve also used InVision in a number of research sessions as a low maintenance way to prototype fast and get iterative feedback

Meredith Black

Head of Design Operations, Pinterest

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