As a lead-up to UX Cambridge
, this week we’ll be putting up a series of posts about what it’s like to be part of the UX team at Red Gate. And what do you know, we’re currently hiring
for two UX positions. Today we’re featuring a Q&A with our Delivery division, which is where our new hires will most likely be located. If you’re intrigued, stay tuned to the blog and, as always, feel free to get in touch
1. What projects are you currently working on?
Delivery is a really exciting place to be right now. Our bigger-picture goal is to link our individual tools into a streamlined, cohesive workflow; on a project level this means we’re doing everything from updating our older products to use newer technologies (for example, moving towards HTML5) to overhauling our UIs to putting together two teams focused entirely on improving user experience. I’ll talk about a few of our projects to give some specifics.
SQL Source Control: Source Control is a key part of the Delivery cycle, and we’re aiming to turn it into a mature product that bigger customers can rely on. We currently have 10 dev/testers working on the team, and we’re looking to balance working on some tough technical challenges for new features versus delivering some crowdpleasing features our users have been clamouring for. Technology-wise, we’re exploring tooling for new source control systems like git and hg, and we recently released an HTML5 interface to improve the evaluation experience.
Deployment Manager: Deployment Manager is a relatively new project, but it’s the next logical piece that connects the other portions of our Delivery cycle. It’s in its relative infancy, but we’re devoting a chunk of our resources to it; we currently have 6 dev/testers on it. The team has released every two weeks since November, and we’re looking to keep that pace up. It’s an ASP.NET MVC project, and we’re particularly interested in getting some experienced frontend developers on board as well.
Customer Joy: Pretty much what it says on the tin, this project is all about improving the customer experience. It’s a small team at the moment, but we’re hoping to deliver a mix of quick wins, minor feature updates, and bug fixes, driven very much by customer demand. This team is in close communication with sales and support in order to figure out which features and bug fixes will please the highest number of our users, but otherwise it’s quite an independent team.
These aren’t the only projects we’re working on in Delivery, but they give a good overview of where Delivery is headed and the kinds of projects we’ll be continuing to work on in the future.
2. How significant are these projects to Red Gate?
These are all VERY significant projects. About a year ago Delivery’s focus as a division moved to integrating all of our products into one incredibly big, incredibly useful workflow; these tools are used by hundreds of thousands of users around the world, and their development is critical to Red Gate as a business. This also means the work involves everything from improving longstanding products to working on very new areas, so there are a lot of different areas and technologies to work in.
3. How are teams structured on projects? How do team members work together?
The teams are a cross-functional mixture of a few devs, a few testers, a UX team member, a tech comms person, a product marketing manager, a project manager and a product manager. They sit together and collaborate closely; everything is done as a team. The team areas end up plastered with designs/post-its/testimonials/usage graphs.
As far as the UX team member specifically, each UX member is embedded in a team. The UX member is integral to the team and typically leads design efforts, works with users, conducts research, and more! UX is done as collaboratively as possible and all teams regularly have sketching sessions and run usability sessions.
4. When someone joins a team, what will they be doing? What will their first couple of months at Red Gate be like?
Induction schedules at Red Gate are usually tailored to the individual joining, but there are a few general objectives that just about every new hire will get. The first couple of weeks are usually more scheduled than normal, as we like to make sure you’re introduced to your project team, the rest of the UX team, and that you get a grounding in the other major functions within the company. It’s also company policy that for your first week, you’re sent home by 5:00 P.M. at the very latest!
By week three, you should be getting into some actual project work. Many new hires will start with a couple of shorter-term projects during their first three months—one recent example of this was a project on rebranding and improving an acquisition to ensure its next release was recognisably Red Gate, and up to Red Gate’s UX standards. This involved working with the Agency, our marketing/creative department, to create a rebranding brief; performing an expert review of the tool; conducting usability sessions to identify and prioritise usability problems; producing some designs for UI improvements, and presenting them to the project team. Future projects will probably look totally different, but the general idea is to give a new hire a project that’s tailored to their skills and interests, that will involve working with the rest of their team, and that has very clear progress and development goals.
By the end of your first three months, you should be integrated fully into your project team, have completed a few smaller-scale projects, and be an active member of the UX team!
5. And lastly: what’s it like working in Delivery?
Obviously it’s awesome working in Delivery! Things move pretty quickly which means the job is pretty varied – an average day might include running a UX session with a customer to show them a new feature, mocking up some new designs for a prototype, calling customers and doing some research about who they are and how they work, pairing with a developer who’s implementing some hifi UI tweaks, and more.
We’re responsible for a huge number of tools which until now have collectively been just a bundle of unconnected tools – our challenge ahead lies in tying these tools together into a cohesive Delivery story. We’re also looking at moving away from desktop apps and winforms towards web and HTML5, making our UIs more streamlined and beautiful. Above all we’re all about the user (we’ve got two teams working on Customer Joy!) and understanding their problems and doing what we can to solve them is what we’re most passionate about.