Spotify at Shopify: a content strategist’s playlist

To start, no mom and dad, Spotify and Shopify aren’t the same thing. Note the “Sp” and the “Sh” at the beginnings. Although people’s eyes bug out slightly more when they mistakingly think I spend all day organizing music libraries, I do get to work on a pretty cool product that helps people become entrepreneurs.

Regardless of where I roam, being a content strategist and information architect is hard. There are few official degrees in existence for this line of work (especially in the realm of product content) so days involve a combination of online detective work, a push for culture change, and a healthy dose of imposter syndrome. To make it through this uncharted territory of digital information structures and consistently repeating, “No, I’m not here to write all your copy,” I need to make sure my mental faculties are charged. HELLO sleep, hydration, exercise, mindfulness training, a supportive team, and… a killer playlist.

I hope these tracks provide enough musical motivation to get you through to 5pm, and maybe help you tweak that messaging hierarchy just one last time.

Feel free to share your favourite playlist in the comments below!

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A.M. shower tunes

Set the tone for the day! I tend to enjoy peaceful mornings in silent solitude, but waking up on the wrong side of the bed requires a music shake down.

Have a Great Day! by Spotify

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The bus

Walking to work is ideal , but not in -20C (-4F). To maintain my winter sanity on a cramped bus, I enjoy observing people’s grouchy morning faces and reactions to the smelly guy against the backdrop of Banana Pancakes.

Don’t Worry. Be Happy. by Spotify

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Reading time and to-do lists

Nothing like a quiet office, soft lighting, a Montreal bagel (thanks Shopify kitchen), and a cup of tea to plan the day.

chill.out.brain by Spotify

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Mind mapping

Sorting out notification types by urgency level takes smooth concentration. Hence, jazz.

Focus: Jazz by Jonathan D. Hart

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Metadata

Looking at a spreadsheet of search metadata and visualizing how multiple results are surfaced together when the word “help” is entered takes zenlike concentration.

Deep Focus by Spotify

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Content audit

Until I get to the analysis bit, content audits can sometimes feel like a giant copy/paste exercise. I like to get into a flow. Instrumental hip hop and RJD2 make spreadsheets feel badass.

Artist: RJD2

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Voice and tone

Rewriting Shopify’s voice and tone guide with Zachary Kain was a pairing exercise made in heaven. I still get flashbacks of, “That’s a good point, but have you considered…” and “Ahhh you’re right, let’s change that.” A 3 day back and forth of strong opinions weakly held. Then iterate, iterate, iterate. Minimalist ambience for editing.

Music for concentration by Spotify UK

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Train to Montreal (office)

I LOVE working on the train. VIA rail has wifi! Not knowing French (I know, I’m a bad Canadian) allows me to concentrate on my work while enjoying the timber of Edith Piaf. Don’t forget to pre-download your songs — no streaming available while in transit!

Les classiques francophone by Spotify Canada

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Hosting workshops

Education is a big focus for our team. We have to scale our efforts by teaching FEDs, designers, and devs to write their own great copy. Combined with a power stance in front of the bathroom mirror, Royal Blood is a steroid for confidence.

Artist: Royal Blood

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Blogging

I started this blog off with another instrumental mix and switched to Run The Jewels based on my coworker’s recommendation. Sorry Dan Rosenthal, I’ll save the hardcore beats for my next Toronto office road trip ;)

An instrumental Sunday by Spotify

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Learning GitHub and terminal

The ability to work with GitHub and make content changes through terminal are essentials for product content at Shopify. It gives us the control and efficiency we need to make quick edits and govern copy. Pro tip: If you’re learning Git too, try out Octocat’s cute tutorials.

No music. This shit is hard.

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Headin’ home

Winding down blues to switch off my “Shopify brain”. Work/life balance ❤

Blues to you by Selene Hinkley

Blues to you by Selene Hinkley

And let’s not forget the most grounding playlist of all: sweet, sweet silence.

Thanks for listening!

Now for something a bit more craft specific: For an in depth insight into solving information architecture problems, check out Virginia Start’s blog on Architecting for simplicity and meaning.

Illustration by pen-wielding Meg Robichaud.