My first 100 days

What I plan on doing in my first 100 days at Etch

I’m 35 days in and counting. I’m loving what I’m doing and I’m taking on more and more, but what I’m lacking is a strategy. I loved reading Simon Mottram’s plan for the year at Rapha, and it worked pretty well for Obama, so here’s my plan for my first 100 days at Etch.

Some of my amazing colleagues (including a very bendy Nicolas Cage!). Not sure who took this photo.

Nail down our product design offering (and go deeper)

We’re a digital products team, so we need to be the best we can to deliver the most amount of value to current and future partners.

How do we do that? Plotting out how we currently run projects should help identify areas to improve.

This is especially exciting for me, because I can start instigating all the things that I have been reading (and collecting on my weekly newsletter!). Design sprints. Jobs to be done. How might we’s. Crazy eights.

Why nail it down? I think if we’re consistent, we can improve over time. To be consistent, we need to map it out. And once it’s nailed down, we can communicate it consistently.

One of our users this week testing a prototype we coded in html. I’m putting scenarios to her. We’re testing specific jobs and comparing between the current site and prototype. That way we can prove we’re starting to hit one metric — time of task. The test took 15 minutes, so we spent the remaining 15 minutes chatting with a cup of tea and a slice of cake! Photo credit: Will Ayling

Build a framework for training product designers

Acquiring talent in Southampton is getting harder and harder as modern product design gets more and more specialised. I reckon the only way to grow is to train in-house, ensuring that we retain and nourish our current designers, but also change the way we recruit.

The landscape has changed and is always changing. Content-heavy websites can be prototyped in code. Mobile apps can be prototyped in Framer. Testing with users needs to be frequent and frictionless.

Also, designers that I have talked to expect a level of on-the-job training. If we had the right people that followed a framework and they understood their track to becoming awesome designers, I think we’d be on the right track.

Components for one of our partner’s websites. Designer, producer and developer working together, just how it should be.

Work in pods

Once I’m back from holiday, we’re going to try working in pods on every project. Our pods (usually made of 3–7 people) will lead the product experience. As fellow lead designer Matt Jackson puts it:

These folk are dedicated to a single project, collaborating at pace to ideate, iterate, prototype, test and ship. These pods are able to work using the ‘sprint’ methodology because sprints enable us to shortcut the endless-debate cycle and produce tangible, testable products, fast.

We’ve trialled it on a few of our partners and the focussed work has benefitted us all, from setting expectations to reducing context switching and maximising productive time. Fridays are left for retrospectives, business development and all those maintenance tasks which only need a few hours to complete.

Side note: I’ve been talking about getting more bunting around the place — was happy to see this — thanks Tim! Work should always look like a party.

Create content to drive awareness of Etch

Believe it or not, I’ve been a fan of Etch for many years. Having started work though, I’ve noticed that it’s far more awesome inside than from the outside. People need to know!

I’ve had a few ideas besides the basics on how to do this, and it’ll take me firmly out of my comfort zone, which is fine by me. The right way to do it though, like the work we do for our partners, is to start, and iterate, and iterate and iterate…

^ Once it’s done, you can perfect it!