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Doing It live: Lessons from Vox Product’s 2017 Summer Interns

This summer, not only did Vox Media’s Product Team interns work on many different assignments on their individual teams, but they also collaborated on a summer-long, all-intern project. After spending some time coming up with potential project ideas, we decided upon creating a dashboard for analytics from YouTube live streams.

We then met with stakeholders from the different editorial brands to determine possible use cases, and useful information to display for streamers. Graphs showing most frequent words, most active users, and overall chat activity were found to be the most important. After doing some initial sketches, we worked together once a week for ten weeks to bring the project from concept to reality.

Today, the project concluded with an internal company presentation. Below are our answers to some questions about our experience this summer:

Q: What was it like coming up with a project idea and then working to bring it to life with the other interns?

Nasita Haque: Coming up with an initial idea is always the most exciting part of working on a team project; this is especially true at Vox, where the intersection between media and tech is always evolving. We started out with a few different ideas including creating a video clip highlighting tool which we felt was not as complex as we wanted it to be, but one of the interns had an interest in Polygon and their live streaming service. Our project transformed into a data analytics tool for Polygon's YouTube live streaming. It's been really great working with all the interns and coming up with interesting ways to analyze live streaming data. Everyone had a role to play in the project and being able to balance each other's work and bounce ideas off one another helped us get closer to our end goal.

Q: What was the most challenging part of the project?

Michael Martinez: Streamers already have a lot to pay attention to. Between the game, the people they are playing with, and the live stream chat, it would be a lot to ask of them to pay attention to other things. When we were trying to come up with an application to aid them with understanding the chat, we realized that adding another screen for them to look at would probably disrupt workflow. When we decided to augment the things they were already looking at, we found it hard to figure out what to show and how prominent each component should be.

Bernard Decelian: In my opinion the hardest part of the project was choosing what metrics to display to the streamers; it’s difficult to tell what has the most impact at any given moment. When we decided to switch to using tabs to hold the graphs, we asked ourselves things like: “What’s more important? What people say, who’s saying it, or how often they say it?”

Q: What is some advice you would give to someone else working on a project like this?

Leslie Manrique: Be adaptable and have fun. When talking to the Polygon team we realized that our initial ideas needed to be changed and we needed to welcome new ones. We also had to accept that many of our ideas couldn’t be completed in the time frame that we were given, but nonetheless we had fun working on it together and discussing our future aspirations for the project.

Q: What was it like doing mini-interviews and discussing the product with stakeholders? How did that inform the final product?

Jon Moss: Meeting with stakeholders turned out to be very useful for us. By hearing out their different concerns and ideas, we were able to focus certain parts of the application on addressing those needs. Communication between end users and those developing the application was key in the idea phase of the project.