All together now

The WooCommerce design team is five people strong. At any given time, we have at least that many projects in development. As you may guess, this means that all designers aren’t working together on a single area of WooCommerce. Instead, we each lead a product or project and meet frequently as a team to discuss, share, and give feedback. This ensures we are all aware of each other’s work and that our overall customer experience is cohesive.

There’s a team outside of the WooCommerce division at Automattic working with the greater WordPress community to make a new post and page building experience called Gutenburg. The goal with Gutenburg is to make writing rich posts effortless so you don’t have to know any code at all. Progress on the new editor is moving along really fast. It’s full featured and intuitive, but there hadn’t been any work done into how this will integrate with WooCommerce.

How do you handle adding a high priority item to everyone’s already full schedule without burning your team out or lowering morale? There’s probably many ways, but here’s what we did:

Instead of discussing it separately with each member of the team, I brought it up in one of our team’s twice weekly video calls. This allowed us to discuss it openly as a team. We all ended up agreeing it was part of our responsibility, was of importance, and was worth putting our time into. Time-boxing was brought up as a great way to approach something like this. Since it was summer and there were a few vacations coming up, we decided to have the due date be in one month.

I put up a sticky post on our team’s internal blog and tagged each person on the team so they were all notified. A day before the due date, we each commented on the post with our ideas. That was yesterday 🙂 Today we all met on a video chat. We all started by sharing our experiences we had testing out Gutenburg. For many of us, it was our first time using it.

Then we took turns presenting our ideas. To do this, we simply “went around the room” and took turns sharing our screens so we could walk though our thought process behind our sketches and flows. We didn’t specify a deliverable so we saw pen and paper sketches, Mural boards, high fidelity screenshots, and clickable prototypes. We then gave feedback to each person before we moved on to the next.

At the end of the call, we remarked on how this was such a treat that we all got to work on the same thing together. It was really fun to see how my teammates approached the same problem and it made me excited to go back and iterate. My goal is make these group time-boxed design problems a more regular occurrence on our team.

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