We might as well start with the elephant in the ride-share, Uber has had no shortage of PR issues recently. I do not know exactly when Uber launched the site uber.design to showcase various aspects of its design work and team but I found it during the last bout of negative headlines.
Maybe it was launched to personalize a team that has felt under siege, to showcase the things they’re doing right and the diverse group of people that contribute to their enviable and unmatched growth! If it wasn’t launched for this purpose, it’s hard to not see it in this light now.
I would argue that Uber is the defining company to have emerged in the post-Facebook tech generation. Others of course include Stripe, Airbnb, Lyft, Spotify, Snapchat and many apps we use every day but Uber is a class on its own. They are pioneers in creating the ‘sharing economy’, have shown the power of a phone or app to the average user and expanded into new geographic markets so fast that they left traditional industries and politicians feeling spurned. You can attribute positive and negative things to this amazing story of growth, and since everyone else is already busy doing that I’ll speculate how this new uber.design site fits into their current strategy.
As you’d expect from any design team and a .design site, it is a beautiful site and experience. The scrolling is natural and the animation is both fun and subtle, showcasing that they are a detail oriented company even in just a quick scroll.
They showcase some of their more interesting experiments, like Uber Ice Cream, as well as events that their team is hosting or participating in. However, it’s pretty clear that the site, like many .design sites from major companies is for recruiting. This is clearly a trend, facebook.design, booking.design, airbnb.design and atlassian.design do similar things with their site.
However, with Uber, I can’t help look at the team profiles and smile, because the little videos of the team are smiling back at you! I notice the number of women and minorities they have chosen to be brand ambassadors on their .design site and I must assume this is them responding to the prevalent narrative and statistics about their staffing. Going through their uber.design site I get the sense that they want to switch topics and focus on their incredibly talented and diverse staff, their work and to just create amazing stuff and change the world without all the PR noise. I think this site does an incredible job of that and I would assume that many designers that still want to work for challenging and exciting teams would continue to aspire to working with Uber after having read through and experienced the uber.design site.