Lara Mendonça built Bumble’s product design team during the pandemic. Her strategy contributed to a wildly successful IPO.
Key to Mendonça’s overall design philosophy is putting women—whom she describes as “vulnerable users”—first. That might sound like a strange characterization, but consider how excruciating it can be to use dating apps as a woman. “Most of all, it’s a women-first app. We don’t hide that. It’s part of our mission,” Mendonça says. “Solving problems for women is something that will solve problems for everyone. Part of that is a principle that I believe in that when you choose a vulnerable user, instead of an average user, you are designing for more people and designing a product that will be better for people in general.”
For Mendonça, UI design is a way to advocate those values in a tangible, practical way. “Design is very good about embracing values,” she says. “The app is celebrating that women make the first move and men take a passenger seat. That sets us apart. And that’s a design decision.”