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Topic: Work

An easy way to keep distributed teams connected

Keeping design teams in sync around the world.

At New Relic, our product design team is distributed across three offices spread across the American west coast and Barcelona. We’re always looking for new ways to work together better across this geological and time zone divide. It’s crucial to our shared user experience vision that designers collaborate frequently, but it’s sometimes difficult to know who to pull in to what conversations or who to keep in the loop on what. Each designer is continuously learning and as the team grew in the last year, relying on word of mouth to share those experiences was breaking down. Plus, we were missing out on the shared team culture that comes with having us all co-located in one office, seeing each other every day.

In short, we needed a way to build a passive awareness of what everyone was doing, without adding too much overhead, new tools, or new process that might disrupt everyone’s work.

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Three things that save meetings from wasting time

How do you run efficient & effective meetings?

Picture this: you’ve been sitting in a meeting room with eight other people for an hour, talking in circles about an issue that was supposed to be solved 45 minutes ago. Two of the people in the meeting are looking at Twitter because this conversation has nothing to do with them, but they have other topics that need to be discussed. No one can move forward because this decision needs to be made, but the person who can really make a decision had a conflict and left 20 minutes ago.

Sounds kinda awful, right? This isn’t a great way to get things done yet it seems a lot of meetings end up this way. Where do things go wrong? How can they be better? I’ve been told that I run pretty okay meetings (a point of pride, to be honest!) so I decided to share what works for me.

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Finding a place in tech without writing a line of code

"What if I love being in tech, but don't love writing code?"

A short while ago a student asked me “What if I love being in tech but don’t love to write code? Is there a place for me?” It reminded me that there’s this perception that developers are the most valuable people on a tech team, but building a successful product definitely takes a village. There are a ton of different things that people do in tech to help make the digital products and services that we use everyday possible. Some of the non-programming jobs focus around design and content, others are more directly linked to development like quality assurance and technical management. Having at least a high-level understanding of each is super helpful no matter where on the team you sit, so I thought it might be helpful to look at a few of the more common non-development roles.

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Happy Monday

Lovely watercolor by Natalia Tyulkina

Lovely watercolor by Natalia Tyulkina

Monday, Monday, Monday, here you are again! Last week was unexpectedly busy at work (hello 12 hour days! It’s been a while!) hence the quiet couple of days. Luckily my weekend was slow and peaceful, the perfect breather after a super busy week! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to tackle whatever is in store for this week. How about some good links to get the day going?

  • Apple finally announced a smart watch! It’s definitely interesting, from an industry point of view, but I’ll personally be passing on this version. This piece does a great job of voicing my own issues with the new device. It all boils down to this: the Apple Watch feels like a computer you happen wear on your wrist, not a watch that happens to check my email.
  • Use Your Interface is hands-down the best gif-based interface collection around. Definitely check it out if you haven’t come across it before!
  • Need some designy retail therapy to really get Monday going? I love this charming (and appropriately named!) script font Monday. Check out those pretty loops, swashes, and ligatures!

Voice vs. Tone

Voice vs. Tone

I picked up Nicely Said a few weeks ago and am seriously loving it. It focuses on writing for the web and covers everything from writing for communities to making interface elements easy to understand. Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee make everything super approachable with common sense advice and reusable patterns. Basically, it’s great! The chapter on defining a writing style has been extra helpful since I’m starting to write here more often. This quote about voice vs. tone stood out especially; I’ve never really considered the difference and have probably used them wrong in the past. Now I know!

I’ll be sharing more quotes and things I’ve learned in a few weeks, once I finish reading. In the meantime, you should pick up your own copy and let me know what you think!