eBay probably isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think about companies that are really nailing design.
In fact, until little over a year ago, designers from eBay’s different properties — like Marketplace, PayPal, and StubHub — didn’t interact at all. The company had no common voice or design culture.
Now, that’s in the process of changing.
“We’re going through a big transformation,” Dave Lippman, eBay’s VP of design told Business Insider.
Once the company decided that it needed a more cohesive design strategy, it started by defining a new bar for quality and what product launches should really look like.
“There were no bad intentions, but products were being made that were solving business problems, while customer problems would get lost,” Lippman said. Now, eBay puts much more of a focus on making sure that both business and customer problems get addressed equally (for example, eBay’s recently relaunched iPad app is much more intuitive than previous versions). A big part of making progress towards better products comes from amping up eBay’s overall “design culture.”
Apple is a good example of what a successful “design culture” looks like.
Before joining eBay last year, Lippman spent more than three years at Apple, as a creative director of its online store.
“Apple is exceptional at craftsmanship at scale,” he says. “And so much of it comes down to the culture that it has. There’s the ability to execute as a craftsman, but it’s the culture that supports it and makes it happen. If Apple didn’t have a culture of perfection across all of its businesses, they wouldn’t have products like they do. You cant have one without the other. If you had a bunch of designers pushing for perfection but didn’t have the business that believed in that, you would never get it.”
Under Lippman’s leadership, the process of refining eBay’s definitive design philosophy continues. One way that the company has tried to address it is by putting all the designers from across businesses into one building.
“We have seven buildings on our main campus,” Lippman says. “When I got to eBay, there were designers in every single one of those buildings. We moved them all to the same building. I had grand plans of getting them all on the same floor, but instead we’ve created shared spaces — design theatres — where everyone to see what everyone else is working on.”
Here’s a look at eBay’s new iPad app: