Tencent, a low-key team, used 15 years to change the design

In the earliest development of QQ, it was always after the product was fully developed and ready to go online. Tencent’s designers were called out to draw an icon, a skin, and a logo for QQ. This also made them often used by colleagues. It's called "artist", a title that sounds trivial.

"At that time, as long as they called us an artist, we would not accept demand," said Chen Yan, Tencent's first full-time interaction designer and user research engineer, with a smile.

Even though China's Internet has been magnificent for 26 years, Tencent has gone from a start-up company in 1998 to a world-class Internet company. The Tencent people behind this group of products are still very low-key.

But soon, you will hear their names in more and more places-Tencent CDC.

▲ Group photo for the 15th anniversary of Tencent CDC

Tencent CDC, the full name of Tencent User Research and Experience Design Department, is one of the oldest design teams in the domestic Internet design industry.

In addition to the design of Tencent's internal products such as QQ, Qzone, QQ Music, QQ Browser, and Tencent Video were born in their hands, this team, like a hidden volcano, has extended its energy to finance, government affairs and people’s livelihood, smart cultural tourism, and social welfare. , And build an inclusive design and research tool platform.

In their eyes, design is no longer just design itself, they have also spent 15 years redefining "design".

If the time is adjusted back to 2003, this "ambition" for design has already been blown out in breaking the rules at first.

Say goodbye to "artists" and influence Tencent

In April 2003, Tang Mu joined the UI design group of Tencent's basic product department as the earliest employee. QQ2003, QQGame, and TM1.0 were all designed by them.

In May of the same year, Chen Yan joined the team as Tencent's first full-time interaction designer, and now she is also the general manager of Tencent CDC. At that time, there were only two positions in the team: interaction designer and visual designer, and Tencent CDC had not yet been established.

The first thing they changed was the positioning of "artists."

▲ Early veteran employees

In 2004, the team made a complete reverse adjustment in the overall process: first design planning, and then product development.

When the design is "front", the problem comes again. The design that the designer likes is not necessarily the design that the user likes, especially when facing such a large user group as Tencent.

So in 2005, they established the first user experience observation room in the domestic industry and added user researcher positions. This allows the team to use a more scientific method to understand the real needs of users and their judgment standards. After all, products are ultimately used by users, and maximizing user value can also maximize commercial value.

In addition to understanding users, Chen Yan said that they have another layer of work, which is to lead the trend. This requires the team to explore the cultural roots of the lower level, and then understand the direction of the development of things, combined with the basis of the masses, and the designer's understanding of the future, and finally a comprehensive design of a good product.

It was not until May 18, 2006 that Tencent CDC was formally established. At this time, there were more than 30 team members, divided into three types of positions: interaction design, visual design, and user research.

▲ The first group photo after the establishment of Tencent CDC

This year is also the year Tencent's company-wide transmission of "user-oriented" product research and development ideas. The concept behind it is called "Customer Engagement (CE)", that is, from Tencent’s product manager to designer, from front and back office development engineer to operation manager and testing and other roles, we must actively interact with users from the beginning to the end. Finally understand the user’s voice and solve the real pain points of the user.

Tencent CDC also followed Tencent, starting from the "root" to establish a standardized system for design and user experience. At the same time, they will also regularly hold CE salon activities, establish an internal CE platform, and deliver knowledge and professional information to more colleagues, and also formulated a set of The assessment and evaluation to check whether the CE work is effective.

From here, we can already see the shadow of Tencent CDC now vigorously creating a social tool platform. It was also at that time that they made the design and user experience intertwined and brought together, and simultaneously promoted the formation of Tencent's corporate culture.

QQ was undoubtedly the core product of Tencent at the time. In 2008, QQ had close to 100 million users. However, the entire structure of QQ has never changed.

This time, the design and application research are at the forefront. The user portrait and overall plan design of QQ have been designed. This "transformation" has also been recognized by many users.

Until 2011, Tencent’s CDC business became more and more. They began to transform from a professional line to a product/project line. That year, the team size had reached more than 200 people, who were basically responsible for the company’s business. A business was a separate service team. , Spanning software to hardware, from tools, entertainment, to social networking and almost all fields.

With many social teams and many projects, it is easy to become chaotic, and after more and more products of Tencent appear, they have to face an increasingly complex market environment.

In this context, Tencent CDC connects all independently developed products within the company, such as QQ, Qzone, QQ Music, Tencent Video, etc., with a unified system, such as the upgrade of the company’s entire major brand and the establishment of different The auxiliary rules between brands, such as designing Tencent blue, Tencent font, Tencent LOGO, etc.

This will not only allow the company's underlying forces to better assist the front-end products, but also strongly increase users' perception and trust of Tencent, reflecting the quality and service Tencent should have.

At the same time, they began to think about their true value.

"Why are you willing to leave the products to us? Why do you believe that our output can meet their expectations?" Chen Yan said, "After analysis, I think professionalism is our core value."

After that, they no longer use the project team as the entity to operate, but the professional as the center of entity operation to ensure that they can do deep in each professional field, and can continue to accumulate, and will not be caused by different products and projects. Split.

This is also the difference between their team size and other design companies-Tencent CDC does not focus its growth goals on product or project data, but positions its value and goals on a professional, so that everyone can When encountering any project, you can learn quickly, practice quickly, and settle quickly.

They built a "Design Whampoa Military Academy."

Build a "Design Whampoa Military Academy"

Turning the operation of a company team into a campus model for in-depth research is rare in the entire design industry.

Based on the experience of the past ten years, Tencent CDC has organized its own working methods and practices into a "design education system."

▲ 2020 Tencent CDC TALK

First of all, the personnel training adopts the "partnership growth mechanism".

Tencent CDC also has a complete set of training procedures, including what kind of courses new employees should take, and what kind of seniors will quickly impart experience, but the difference is that no matter new or old employees, Tencent CDC will give them a senior The mentors can not only discuss work together, but also provide professional assistance to grow up together.

Secondly, it is to establish a consideration mechanism for learning and growth.

Every member of the team should have a brand new improvement in their profession every six months. In the end, when debriefing their work, in addition to the achievements of the project, there is also a very important part of the content, which is what kind of progress they have made in their profession and understand What new knowledge points have been learned and gained.

Finally, employees need to write essays for professional promotion.

Just like submitting a thesis after graduation, Tencent CDC also adopts this method, but unlike the school where there are only tutor reviews, they have a 360-degree thesis review. For employees whose professional level is lower than that of the employee, they need to finish reading the thesis. There are gains; employees at the same level should feel refreshed after seeing it; employees at a higher level should feel valuable and worthy of further promotion after reading it. Employees at all levels are qualified for interviews.

"Only technology and professionalism can accompany a lifetime career. When we were young, our parents or teachers taught us this way—knowledge is something that others can never take away," Chen Yan said.

▲ Tencent CDC night school, Chen Yan shared the scene

In addition, Chen Yan also has strict control over the scale of Tencent’s CDC with more than 150 people. She has built the team into a "small and refined" model, which is full of expert or senior talents, and will also cultivate some talents. Potential students.

At the same time, in this relatively small team, the employees are very diverse, including design, psychology, sociology, asset marketing, and even a PhD in nuclear physics. Employees with professional backgrounds also have multiple professional skills. They also have to understand how to raise requirements, sort out requirements, make product planning, and even go to the front line of the business to make proposals and so on.

This has also allowed this "Design Whampoa Military Academy" to cover a wide range of fields and diverse backgrounds, and it has brought more sparks to design research.

Since 2013, Tencent CDC has begun to organize their work methods and experience into a book for publication. As of 2020, the third volume of the book series "By Your Side, Designing for You: Tencent's User Experience Design" has been published. Up.

▲"Design for you by your side: Tencent's user experience design approach" series of books

Tencent CDC not only hopes that it can deliver more design talents, but also hopes that its design experience can be transferred to more industries in a more universal way.

Regarding how Tencent's design education concept adapts to different industries, Chen Yan believes that there are two words that can summarize their confidence in this.

The first is that different paths lead to the same goal. The underlying logic of studying all knowledge is often the same.

The second is to be integrated. Although they are in the Internet industry, they often seek experience in other industries such as fashion, architecture, art, and economics, because the growth logic in many fields is also the same. This is also in the recruitment of talents from all walks of life. You can get a glimpse of it.

When the first book was published, Tencent CDC had created an independent closed loop, and this independent closed loop is of great reference to the current design environment and industry in China.

▲ CDC TALK share content

Last weekend, Tencent CDC held the 3rd Service Innovation Conference (2021 SICC), focusing on cultural conservation and cultural innovation. They hope that in the future, they can continue to think and explore, so that more good designers can work together for industry development and social value. Make a sound and form a good and healthy design ecology.

And one of them must be mentioned is the technical force that provides the backbone for this.

The initial stage of Tencent CDC's establishment in the first 10 years is the first stage of development. Most of Tencent's products are incubated internally, and the main thing is to do preliminary exploration work, and then incubate after the product is stable. In the next few years, Tencent's CDC positioning is to ensure the coordination and unity of the company's internal underlying operations on the one hand, and to conduct forward-looking exploration in new areas.

At this time, R&D personnel have become the largest group of Tencent CDC, but many R&D staff can do design by themselves. Employees in many product positions are also doing R&D before. They will explore some new areas together, and they will also develop some new products. , Dabble in some new directions.

In recent years, in the second phase of Tencent's CDC, the biggest change in the department has been further "instrumentation."

Use "instrumentalization" to inclusive industries

In the early days, Tencent CDC also made some internal efficiency improvement tools, but "instrumentation" only accounted for 20%-30%. Now the tools and projects in the entire team are almost parallel to each other.

When a new project demand is released, no matter how many designers, how many front-end developments, and their relationship, as long as the tool platform is built, they can respond quickly, and then use existing technology and design materials to quickly build The ideal experience interface.

▲ Company basic service support

Thanks to this model, Tencent CDC has also established many laboratories with various Tencent business teams, such as advertising laboratories, financial laboratories, etc. When Tencent CDC wants to explore a new field, they can also use these tools and The platform quickly selects the right people from the organizational structure, forms a new team, and then carries out pre-incubation and even subsequent continuous operations.

Fan Junhao, head of the Luban studio of Tencent CDC, introduced to Ai Faner that from studying user samples, collecting data on user behavior, public opinion, industry, and product scale, to data processing, and finally generating research results, there will be corresponding steps at every step. The tool settled down.

Now, they are gradually opening up these tools and platforms to change the traditional design industry.

At present, Tencent CDC's tool platform is mainly divided into two categories: Yongyan Cloud and Design Cloud.

The first tool Tencent CDC opened was the Tencent Questionnaire. The first tool was used for internal research work. Later, they discovered that this demand was common and common to everyone, and then opened it up. Now Tencent Questionnaire has become a one-stop research service that includes questionnaire design, delivery, and analysis, with more than 3 million daily active users.

▲ Tencent questionnaire

The second open tool is "Rabbit Nest", which is mainly used to help the company's development, operations, product managers and other members and users to communicate directly. "Tu Xiaochao" is also a community, which directly converts the ideas and methods of Tencent's user research methodology into tools for external transmission.

This tool is also a platform for Tencent CDC to "substantiate" its advantages in the field of user research.

▲ Rabbit Little Nest

The tool platform on Yongyan Cloud is the market and user research results accumulated by the company for many years, while Design Cloud is an experience design platform that includes design collaboration, design resources, and design management.

The earliest concept of Design Cloud was to enable various positions to better handle a large number of products and projects. So they made ProWork to help everyone manage projects and resources. Now this tool is the same as Tencent’s other product demand management tool TAPD. As well as Tencent's internal code management platform, Worker Bee, have all been used.

▲ Tencent ProWork

As a result, the entire workflow from demand management to design, resource input, and code can be visually presented through the design cloud, allowing employees to intuitively see where the problem is.

In addition to design management, they have also developed a one-stop high-efficiency product design collaboration platform CoDesign, which can help design and upstream product managers and downstream development to facilitate work docking, convenient management of materials and reuse of materials, thereby improving design and development The effectiveness of.

▲ Tencent CoDesign

In the future, Design Cloud will continue to plan tools to solve designers’ pain points, such as better management of materials and copyrights, to ensure that they do not use other people’s copyrights indiscriminately, and to ensure that their copyrights can be protected. With the rapid development of AI , Tencent CDC is still exploring more intelligent design tools, such as automatically generating LOGO, icons, fonts, etc., which will reduce more and more work for designers.

As for the research cloud, Chen Yan said that in the next one or two years, their direction in the use of research tools is to further instrument the ability to process big data, or the ability to manage the entire research process.

For Tencent itself, they can not only provide designers with better work efficiency, but also enable Tencent CDC to serve more industries and fields with higher efficiency. After these tools and platforms become more and more open, they will improve the service level of the entire design industry.

Compared with other research tools and platforms in the global market, Tencent’s more than two decades of Internet product experience, experience in serving a large number of users, and one-stop, full-process services in the field of product design are the unique advantages of Tencent CDC.

Tencent CDC has been able to export products completely independently from the initial "auxiliary" products. It has also turned its own experience into a tool platform process, allowing more peers and non-peers to see the value and possibility of design.

Now, they also extend and influence more and more industries with their own values ​​and possibilities.

Diversified cross-industry, Tencent CDC changes and unchanged

From the PC Internet to the mobile Internet, the "consumer Internet" in the mobile Internet has now turned to the "industrial Internet". Tencent's strategy is constantly changing with the times, and its products are also starting from the C side (consumer side) to the B side (supply side) ) And the G end (government end).

For Tencent CDC, this is both a new challenge and a new opportunity.

Since 2014, Tencent has been in the financial industry and started to integrate the development of the traditional financial industry with the Internet. For example, it took the lead to establish the first domestic Internet bank-WeBank, and Tencent's insurance agency platform-Weibao .

▲ WeBank and WeInsurance

Tencent CDC no longer only focuses on the company's internal products, and runs in parallel with the development of the company and the industry. From here, it starts to "cross-border", helping WeBank to build a design team from 0 to 1, and complete the experience design of the entire product system; Weibao has carried out a full set of design from brand positioning to LOGO logo, official website and several products, and then to the follow-up survey of the insurance industry.

It is not easy to change the experience design of traditional banks. They not only pay attention to user experience, but also deeply study the brand and think about how to best present the product, because in the bank’s genes, the most important thing is legal compliance and stability, and balance Is the key.

This is also an earlier exploration in the industrial Internet.

After that, Tencent CDC began to "cross-border" government affairs in serving the country's strategic direction.

The first thing Tencent CDC tried was the Digital Guangdong project, which was to help Guangdong upgrade its e-government affairs. The Guangdong Province affairs were born. An electronic license can become the entrance to the service. In addition, digital platforms such as Guangdong Business Communication and Guangdong Zhengyi The residents of Guangdong moved their fingers to bid farewell to the cumbersome offline work process in the past and handle all kinds of people's livelihood events in one stop.

▲ Guangdong Province

Tencent CDC used new technology to advise government departments to integrate and open up inter-departmental businesses or projects, which helped the government improve work efficiency and made people's lives more convenient. In fact, this was also why Tencent was paying more and more attention to social value at the time. Manifestation.

▲ Digital Guangdong business

Another area that is also very close to the people's livelihood is cultural tourism.

Culture and tourism account for a large proportion of people’s lives. Under the consensus of the local Yunnan government and Tencent, Tencent CDC deeply participated in the experience design of a mobile phone tour in Yunnan. Later, Tencent CDC also carried out the digital cultural preservation design of "Traveling in Dunhuang" , Let people embark on an immersive "journey" of exploring, visiting, and protecting Dunhuang on their mobile phones, as well as the K11 GO applet that young people like to visit, the UCCA online exhibition hall, etc…

▲Travel Dunhuang Mini Program

When a company is getting bigger and bigger, the number of users is bigger and bigger, and the influence is bigger and bigger, the society's expectations of it will be higher and higher.

Now, they continue to think: As a technology company, how can Tencent use its own technology to better reflect its own technological value for the sustainable development of society?

Therefore, in recent years, they have also participated in and supported the establishment of Tencent's charity platform. Tencent's science and technology public welfare program guided by "Good Fortune" helps organizations build a volunteer platform and help Tongguan Village to design cultural conservation services to retain the traditional culture that has been blown away by time.

The next stage of Tencent CDC's positioning is also to build a technology public welfare platform.

This allows technology and design to be combined to better solve more social problems. They hope that their design and application research capabilities can not only manufacture products, but also integrate various social problems, then solve social problems, and then serve the society.

▲ 99 Charity Day, Tencent Volunteer Charity Sale

For example, Tencent CDC’s recent exploration of information accessibility is to make it easy for everyone to access information; there is also an emergency service system in the field of life and health, which tries to connect people in danger with equipment and society through Internet technology. There is a faster reaction mechanism between the response systems…

Chen Yan believes, "The Internet is no longer just an industry or a field. It has become a new productivity. Just like we invented steam engines and electricity before, it is the internal driving force that can help many industries."

They also started to investigate the development status of Chinese design talents in the previous year, hoping to discover some possibilities, and tell people in design professions and fields that they are not just the hands of others, they draw a better picture, or more Know your users and you can do more.

Many social problems are not solved properly because of the failure to use design thinking. Design thinking can be applied to many fields to solve more social problems, achieve more social value, and produce greater influence.

▲ Joy, an employee of Tencent CDC, joined the "Special Needs Children's Art Therapy Charity Alliance", with a slogan on the top floor of the school

In the course of historical development, technology is often at the forefront. But how to use technology, how to better serve the society and people, this is where designers use their abilities, and it is the key point to promote technology to better solve social problems.

Tencent CDC spent 15 years influencing Tencent's corporate culture, continuously incubating design talents, exploring new research tools and platforms, and transferring these experiences to the design industry and more fields.

These changes will continue to be new and unchanging, but always make the design based on the person itself, like a globe, constantly rotating around the axis.

Since then, the design has also had the most powerful starting point and destination.

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