Work Notes #29

Ahead of this work note, I cleaned up the projects I mentioned since I started this quasi-diary. To give me a reference point on current projects, I’ll list them again:

  • Diamond – All about driving registrations
  • Dialogue – All about incremental improvements for commenting
  • Newsletter – All about the development of our newsletters
  • UX – All about changes in our design and user experience

Of course, there are other projects, but I’m either not allowed to talk about them yet or just included on a low level. However, to structure these notes a bit better, I’ll create subheadings for the projects.

Helpful Exchanges

My work week actually started somewhere around Saturday afternoon. I was notified that Blick.ch would receive recognition by the media quality ranking 2020 as we improved the most since the last rating in 2018. Therefore, I was asked to write a short article on the matter.

On Wednesday, we had a call with some of the product managers at the German newspaper BILD. I’m not a fan of their journalism. However, the exchange about their product development, their struggles, and their successes was very insightful. We decided to continue the conversations regularly.

Later that day, I joined a handful of fellow Hyper Island students in a video call. It was refreshing to see their faces again and talk about our lives and the challenges we face with our Industry Research Projects.

Diamond

After almost a year, the project Diamond is about to be concluded. There are still some tasks left. I’m waiting on the full integration of Hearken in our CMS. It’s the only thing left that’s in my responsibility.

Nevertheless, some commenting features couldn’t be developed as planned. Luckily, the comment sections will have a dedicated development budget for 2021.

Dialogue

I finished the acceptance testing for our next improvement. The feature is called ‘buckets’ and allows our comment moderators to distribute all the pending comments evenly. As there are four buckets, four people can moderate simultaneously. The bucket functionality finally enables us to work together without getting in each other’s way.

Furthermore, I found time to discuss roadmap 2021 for Dialogue with my team. We have many intriguing ideas on how to improve our commenting functionality. However, quite a few will need a complete refactoring of the architecture.

Newsletter

I realized that I never mentioned in any of my work notes that we’re in the middle of switching the newsletter provider. The past week involved many calls around that topic. We nearly put the project on hold since the process was sincerely annoying for the developers: Every other day, new requirements popped up. But in a clarifying call, we decided to give it a last push since we already put a lot of effort into it.

To be honest, this project causes me more pain than anything else. So I was delighted that our UX designer decided to work on the new newsletter templates. On Friday, I got them approved and could send them to development.

Also, on the positive spectrum was a call to discuss a new standalone newsletter. I like the concept a lot, and we’re looking into possible sponsorships right now. Hopefully, we’re able to find a suitable partner.

UX

We had progressed on two fronts in the UX project. We sent out small variants of a new video teaser to our user testing group. The results were split, and the difference wasn’t significant. However, we’re continuing with the winner.

I also enjoyed participating in a developer meeting to split our ideas for the new header and navigation in small, deliverable chunks. Since there are many other big projects, we have to manage expectations while still delivering visible changes.

The Big Disruption

On Friday, the big bang came for most of us unexpectedly: It was announced that the CEO of Blick-Group would part ways with the company after just about nine months. The reason: different perspectives on strategy.

Now, there’s uncertainty spreading. What does this mean for our current projects and priorities? And as it always happens with these kinds of leadership changes, it feels like everything and everyone is on hold for the moment. I find this a difficult situation since we’re in the middle of many meaningful projects. Also, there’s a lot of work that has to be done to incorporate the new product managers (yes, that’s also me) in transparent processes.