On Thursday, October 9th, 2014, Vox Media held our first product-focused event at our DC headquarters. Entitled All Aboard: A Discussion on Shipping Digital Products, we invited designers, developers, and managers from various DC-based companies to come discuss their teams, process, and how they celebrate.
While the projects that everyone works on day-to-day differ quite a bit, they provided a lot of similar advice for the audience.
"Timelines are fake" is definitely the wisest thing said at #allaboard panel so far— Mike Curse (@MikeACase) October 10, 2014
Whether the projects they were working on had quick or longer term turnarounds, one common suggestion was to build time for chaos. Niv Shah, Product Manager of Ad Products at Vox Media, mentioned that the biggest timesuck that many of his team's projects face is the stuff unaccounted for when creating a timeline.
"News doesn't stop, apparently [...]. No matter what, a product has to ship" summarized Emily Chow, Graphics Editor at Washington Post. Ensuring that you set aside time for unexpected chaos provides leeway when the team is faced with new requirements or changing deadlines. Wes Lindamood, Senior Interaction Designer at NPR, conceded that the temptation to dive in on making a project without clearly defining the problem and its potential solutions can be a huge source of inefficiency.
The importance of communication was further underlined by Laura McGuigan, VP Design at TrackMaven, who gave further emphasis on being able to outline the details of a project early so that everyone can be on the same page throughout the process. Specifically, if you dive into a project without adequate discussion, you might waste a long time solving the wrong problem.
Young Hahn, Engineer at Mapbox, discussed the critical nature of giving the appropriate people recognition for their work through promoting and empowering them when they handle their own projects. Julia Beizer, Director of Mobile at The Washington Post, underlined the need to try to outline goals early on and ensure that such goals are measured and met.
Across the panel, the importance of celebrating a team win after shipping was very apparent. Whether it was a simple high five, burgers at shake shack, or a bottle of bourbon - recognizing that the resources for a project are in fact people and appreciating them is paramount.
Thanks again to everyone who came to see these people chat about their processes! If you'd like to learn more about our speakers make sure to reach out to them:
Julia Beizer - Director of Mobile at The Washington Post
Emily Chow - Graphics Editor at The Washington Post
Young Hahn - Engineer at Mapbox
Wes Lindamood - Senior Interaction Designer at NPR
Laura McGuigan - VP Design at TrackMaven
Niv Shah - Product Manager of Ad Products at Vox Media
If you have any feedback at the event, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (or both). If you weren't able to make it, don't worry! We'll be planning more events in the future, including Pixel Punch, our design showdown, on October 23, 2014 at the Vox Media DC office.