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October 16, 2018

So You Want to be a Product Designer?

Before you click APPLY, start here. 

One of the most common questions we get asked is: 

How do you become a product designer at MetaLab?

Our hiring team has been reviewing design applications for almost a decade now and we've distilled the top 5 things we look for in a successful candidate. Whether you've applied before, are flirting with the idea—or if you're looking to join another company building amazing products—read on. 

Here are our top tips for anyone looking to dive into the wonderful world of product design.

1. Product design from start to finish

At MetaLab, we've seen the strongest product come from removing the distinction between designers who only do UX or only UI. Sure, there can be specialties, and over time people will find their areas of strength, but the best Product Designers are involved in the entire design process. Through research, low-fidelity wireframes, high-fidelity design, and animation prototyping. An interest and experience in end-to-end design is a must

MetaLab's product designers using sticky notes to do experience mapping for a zipline park

2. Show us your (design) skills 

To build world-class products, designers have to be adaptive and show an ability to think strategically for users but also get into the weeds on small details. All while keeping things simple. Here's a rundown of the qualities we see in the strongest design candidates.

  • Fundamentals. You've mastered design essentials such as color theory, typesetting, visual hierarchy, and layout
  • Intuitiveness. Your products are designed to be used with confidence—the purpose and function of each feature is clear
  • Simplicity. You place focus on the important design elements and refrain from anything that could distract the user
  • Accessibility. Your products are designed with all people in mind—you ensure they are usable by anyone, anywhere, anytime
  • Delight. You inject personality into your designs to create a memorable experience for users
  • Motion. You use movement to enhance the experience and guide the user through their intended journey

3. Culture fit 

Okay, so everyone says this, but we truly put culture above all else when screening candidates. Which is why MetaLab's culture is one of the best parts of working here.

Two of MetaLab's product designers collaborating at the Victoria HQ

There's no cookie cutter fit, but successful candidates should hold these values:

  • Collaborative. We rarely work on solo projects here. You must be comfortable working in groups, taking feedback and learning from teammates of all levels of experience
  • Communicative. We are a largely remote team so you must be a strong communicator. It is wildly important that you feel confident in engaging with colleagues and clients across a variety of platforms
  • Adaptable. Things are in a constant state of flow around here so you need to be open to change, transition, and ambiguity within your projects
  • Honest. We don't expect you to be perfect, we do expect you to be honest. We appreciate when people are transparent about their flaws, clear about their misses and always share where they are at when it comes to work and life outside our four metaphorical work walls
  • Modest. We appreciate folks that can have a good laugh at themselves. If you've ever identified yourself as the best designer in the room, you probably won't fit in around here. This is so important we’re going to make it point #4.

4.  No place for ego 

While we're framing this around working with our team, we've found this mindset serves designers well no matter where they're working. We're always focused on producing the highest quality work, we never take ourselves too seriously and are looking for teammates that are as fun or goofy as they are talented. MetaLab doesn't care about titles or awards—we're looking for good humans who just want to do good work.

5. You give a damn 

It's much harder to create great, world-class products when you don't give a damn. We're looking for people who are as passionate about beautiful, intuitive products as we are. It's one thing to be talented, but we're here for designers that are lit up by what they do. If the challenge of creating quality products gets you out of bed in the morning, there might be a MetaLab shirt with your name on it.

So that's it. The big 5. We get a lot of questions about what makes for a great application at MetaLab specifically so we thought we'd end this with a lightning round of the top do's and don'ts when you submit your application:


  • Ensure your portfolio is product-focused  
  • Include product case studies
  • Explain the role you played on the products in your portfolio


  • Assume your LinkedIn profile tells us enough about your product design experience
  • Only link us to your Dribbble or Behance page. While nice to have, this only really gives us an idea of your general aesthetic
  • Send us complicated, convoluted UX journeys. Instead, share concise, informative case studies. The ability to clearly showcase your work is a must-have

Alright, ready to show us your stuff?  We can’t wait to see what you’re working with! 

Celebrate little wins
Embrace the scroll
Coach them though big ideas
Embrace the scroll
...make sure anyone can use it
Give them one task at a time
Teach by example
Create a 'consumer-friendly' feel
Focus on the most common user needs, but...
Start with mobile
Principles we
can use today