My first three months at Monzo as a Product Designer

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I joined Monzo in August 2021 as Product Designer, currently working in Personal Banking, the squad that looks after the core parts of the Monzo experience.

It's been a really special first few months and I wanted to share what my experience has been like, I'll be upfront and say that I'm having a great time, but I'd like for the person reading this to get as fair an account of what it may be like to be a designer at Monzo as possible—so here's my view on what the first few months were like.

The culture is inclusive and very collaborative

Having been a customer since Monzo was Mondo, I'd been following the journey quite closely, as a designer observing from the outside it seemed to me like so many different parts of Monzo worked so well. I remember using the app and being impressed at how emotionally intelligent the product was, and it seemed that was reflected in the way data was used in social media campaigns, from their writing tips on LinkedIn to their data-informed tweets about how often we all go to Greggs.

There was a big part of me that was hesitant to join and be unpleasantly surprised with how the sausage is made, but after three months, I can safely say it's not a sausage—it's more like a delicious rainbow layered cake, even more impressive on the inside.

A sign on the back of a toilet saying:

It’s okay to… Be wrong. Cry. Say you don’t know.
Have a tough day. Ask for help. Fail. Take a mental
health day. Have a different opinion. Take a break
when you need it.
It’s great to… Ask questions. Put your hand up
when you make mistakes. Go home. Be ambitious.
Go for a walk to clear your head. Switch off
completely during holidays. Work from home or a
coffee shop some days. Give away your Legos.
Please… Be kind. Be helpful. Be mindful of your
own limits. Share knowledge. Ask people how
they’re doing. Bring your dog to the office.
Remember there are no silly questions. Leave
things better than you found them.
You should… Talk to people about doubts and
concerns. Be yourself. Give candid, timely
feedback. Be honest, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Try to… Soften the edges. Be hard on problems,
not people (including yourself). Put your ego aside.

Monzo's culture is represented in each individual that you interact with, the company values seem to align so well with the values of the people who work here.

The people you meet are motivated to default to transparency, be hard on problems not people, put their hands up when they make a mistake... the list of values goes on, but you really really feel this holds true and these foundations have made for really wonderful collaborative experience.

Design at Monzo feels original, evidence-based yet super creative

Design at Monzo means user research, brand and product design as of writing this we're a team of 25-30 designers and researchers, we continue to grow and hire new folks. Every designer is working on an important challenge for our customers and the business.

Our designers are talented, empathetic and wear multiple hats

The Monzo Design team - about 15 people - sitting on some wooden steps in the office

I'll start with product design specifically, I can only describe our product designers as multi-faceted, highly talented and capable of navigating the depths of both UI and UX very comfortably.

Where this hiring decision is really strong is that designers can veritably work end-to-end, from working side-by-side with our UX researches to truly understand the problems that we're trying to solve to being able to articulate compelling solutions in collaboration with their teams and working with engineers to build products as they were envisioned.

We're fortunate to work with really talented engineers, that's a real treat and motivator for creating delightful experiences.

Staying focused and organised has been really important

First principles thinking is a big part of how Monzo operates as a company, which basically means starting from the most fundamental truths and reasoning your way up from there. It’s a delight to solve problems as a team in this fashion, you won't hear anyone here say "that's just how we've always done it”.

Where working at Monzo can be a bit challenging as a designer is that you need to remain very pragmatic and organised with your time, your squad will continue to move quickly and the momentum remains fast-paced as everyone does their best to move us closer to our goals, in your first couple of weeks this might a feel a little intense—particularly paired with the constant streams of consciousness that are all the Slack channels.

It’s a real joy to collaborate with folks at Monzo

I was fortunate to be told by multiple people in my interview process to assume positive intent and trust the people I work with, a few days from joining I had enough evidence to believe this is true. Everyone really wants you to succeed and the design team are a rare combination of high performing and high empathy for each other as well as our customers.

A sign in the Monzo office that says "making money work for everyone" surrounded by various money-related icons

Our brand design team are a joy to work with and observe in action, they work really closely with product designers on shipping features, in-app marketing and what the world outside of the app get to see too. My experience so far has meant I've worked closer with Pam, someone who can only be described as a design powerhouse, a super talented designer capable of animating, illustrating, ideating at a pace unlike anything I've seen before.

User Research is embedded in every collective (group of squads), and I distinctly recall praising Katherine our head of user research for her hiring decisions, every UX researcher I've spoken to at Monzo, I've learned something from, and this continues to be true.

There are all the tools a designer could dream of

We primarily use Figma, of course! Not only that, but we use it really well, we have a very very comprehensive design system (don't worry this doesn't make anyone less creative) and it's been incredibly well technically structured (really clever uses of components and instances) by our design system in-house wonder Sam. We also use Figjam for virtual workshopping, we have a really lovely office for IRL workshopping whenever restrictions are eased.

If you're like me and every now and then you need to put something together in After Effects, Illustrator or Photoshop, we have that covered too. Our product architecture continues to scale, and more broadly there are areas we need to continue to work on to make sure our customers can find the useful features that we're adding more easily.

We ship often—which is fun, but initially the pace can be daunting

Monzo is the fastest moving company I have ever worked at, and the culture of learning through shipping value to real people, measuring the impact and remaining intellectually honest about the result is reflected in every product squad and every part of the business.

I worked with my team to quickly set up an experiment within my first few weeks of joining and immediately started learning from real customer data, more recently I've helped ship a pretty sweet referral programme that celebrates each time you bring someone over to experience the Monzo magic.

Two phones showing some screens in the Monzo app of the newly redesigned referral flow

My squad at the moment is a combination of client engineers (iOS and Android), backend engineers, product, product marketing, design, data science, UX research and QA—though not all of these disciplines are equally embedded in the squad, some move around between squads.

I've been spending the past month or so speaking to customers, looking at data, running workshops, shipping features and collaborating with my squad to look ahead into the opportunities we have to essentially make money work for everyone—I wish I could say more, but it's one of those things you'll have to find out if you decide to join or if you're a Monzo customer and can you experience it first-hand.

There are so many opportunities to do great work at Monzo, the challenge is to narrow-down which are the most important priorities to focus on at any given point in time, I perceive this as a good problem to have.

An animation of a screen in Monzo that says "Hannah just joined Monzo" with two Monzo cards overlapping to form a heart shape

I’m biased, but it’s a really great time to be at Monzo

It does truly feel like we are trying to solve pertinent problems in people’s lives, their ability to achieve more and be better with their money. I feel very priviledged to be a part the mission here at Monzo.

Beyond the longer term work from my squad, I'm really excited about how we can take cool products like Flex even further and help people pay for important things in their lives over a period of time that doesn't leave them out of pocket, seeing Trends continue to give customers a unique view of how their money is being used, as well as the various ways in which we're making it easier for businesses that bank with Monzo to run smoothly and get paid quicker.

If you read this because you're considering joining Monzo, check out all our open roles.