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Following on from our look inside marketing design at Dropbox, in this episode we zoom in on HelloSign and learn how it functions as part of Brand Studio after being acquired, as well as the things Berenice has learned from the acquisition. Plus, we learn about how the HelloSign team uses our season sponsor Webflow for their marketing site, and why the switch to Webflow is one of the projects Berenice is most proud of.
0:00 - Introducing HelloSign
1:55 - The early days of design at HelloSign
5:50 - Design at helloSign after the acquisition
7:55 - How Berenice and HelloSign fit in to the Brand Studio team
13:20 - Creative review meetings & design collaboration
17:30 - The HelloSign brand
20:10 - Project planning & kickoff
25:20 - The landing page design process
29:00 - Using Webflow for the marketing site
31:00 - Collaboration with Marketing
34:25 - How Berenice's role has changed over the years
37:15- Metrics & responsibilities
41:20 - Advice for a designer getting acquired
44:45 - Moving the HelloSign site to Webflow
50:00 - Do me a favor?
Charli: Welcome back to inside marketing design everyone or just welcome in general if you new around here. I'm Charli, I'm the creative director at ConvertKit and I started this show to learn from my peers in the tech industry about the processes and team structures that they have in place to make great marketing and brand design work happen at their companies. Today, I'm speaking with Bernie St. Mendez who is an associate creative director at Dropbox working on HelloSign specifically. Now HelloSign is an eSignature service and it was acquired by Dropbox in 2019 but Berenice has been on the HelloSign team since 2015 when the company was made up of only around 25 people. So, she's seen a lot of like team structure and process changes over the years throughout the company growing, throughout the acquisition and I was excited to talk to her about it and learn what it's like for a designer when your company gets acquired and then mergers with a new company. Our season sponsor Webflow is especially relevant today because the HelloSign team uses Webflow for their marketing website. Webflow is a no-code website building tool and allows designers and marketing teams to ship well-constructed sites and easily make updates without writing lines and lines of code. It is super intuitive for us designers to use and for startups especially, it's a great tool for getting updates shipped quickly. You can check it out at InsideMarketingDesign.co/webflow and we'll hear more about Berenice and her team's web design process in this episode.
So let's get into it and take a look inside marketing design at HelloSign. Welcome to the show Berenice, we're excited to have you here and to dig into this other side of design at Dropbox essentially but you know HelloSign being a separate product and a separate brand and things like that. Welcome to the show.
Berenice: Hi Charli, super happy to be here, very excited.
Charli: Let's start by talking about your quick history of your time at HelloSign because I mean, things have changed a lot since you started, you joined when the company was a lot, a lot smaller and when it was independent company, you've been through this acquisition. Talk us through what brand design was like before the acquisition maybe.
Berenice: So, yeah, I joined HelloSign in 2015, brand new to the Bay area, young designer full of hopes and dreams. And I joined a very tiny startup called HelloSign. At the time I think I was employee number 28, 29 maybe. And I was the second designer. There was one designer and she was doing all the product design and I came in to pretty much help with all the brand work. There was a lot to do and all very fast because, as you know started to move very quickly and as you kind of get more feedback from users and as you develop more features, you are also like trying to find your place in the world, And like the voice and the tone that you wanna be speaking. But something that we kinda always knew, it was that the product needed to be simple and the brand needed to be reflective of that. So when I joined, yeah, I mean I joined in and I helped design everything from all the time like pitches for investors to our early banner ads, white papers, things for all the conferences and all the events that started to tend to. And yeah, definitely started like working on the website as well. Yeah, it was two designers, very tiny and yeah I started growing as startups very, very quickly and obviously the work got definitely more intense. I definitely found that there wasn't enough time to do absolutely everything with the level of detail that I wanted to.
Berenice: That's when you kinda start thinking about how does kinda scale yourself and then you start kinda bringing in process.
Charli: Is that when you started maybe hiring other designers as well, or has the brand design team at HelloSign always been you?
Berenice: It's always been tiny and I can tell you what happened. So the designer who hired me, a year after I joined, she left. So, then I was the only designer.
Charli: Oh no.
Berenice: And it was really interesting because obviously I still love the company, I still have the team. I still find it very exciting, but it really required me for a short amount of time while we kinda like hired like the product design team to take some of this product design responsibilities. And I guess it was very illuminating for me to realize that I definitely wanted to stick to brand design, my opportunity to like perhaps like pivot or explore. But I said, this is work that it's very, very important and it's definitely... My brain isn't necessarily wired that way. But yeah, so we started growing out of the product design team and then, yeah, I hired another designer who was also an illustrator and back 2018 at this point. And yeah, we're pretty much at the time we have like, a style guy would have like voice and tone and we have an illustration style and the product is relaunching new features. We have launched a new product at the time and come 2019, I think is January. We just get an email that pretty much giving us the news that we are now part of the Dropbox family. And yeah, things have been moving pretty fast internally since then, completely different experience than startup. But very interesting the less.
Charli: Yeah, man, see that's a lot of change to go through at a company and it's so cool to, I don't know, just hear about this experience on both sides of it, right. Of being at the small startup to now being at a much bigger company with multiple products and like multiple moving parts to it. What's happened since the acquisition, how has brand design been handled for HelloSign since it became part of Dropbox?
Berenice: Yeah, so at the very beginning we remained very separate companies. I think this was done deliberately to maintain a level of confidence and like stability for the teams to be able to do what they do best without too much disruption. I think any changes can be positive but there's drawbacks and obviously Dropbox acquired a profitable business and they didn't want to compromise that. So, we definitely operate separately. However, I think that it was very evident quickly that the acquisition was made also because we... Dropbox wanted to extend kind of like the reach and like the portfolio products that they wanted to present to the world and we needed to kinda achieve a little bit more parity between the brands. And also not a lot of people still kinda knew that that there was a relationship between companies. So we needed to kinda like put a little bit more work on that and mid 2020 we joined like brand studio. And definitely now, like through some teams are still kinda operating differently some others are kinda merged. We do kinda like work in the same kind of team, but our specialties still kinda like in HelloSign and the product and the target audience and the users for it.
Charli: Which makes sense 'cause you've got all that context and all their like deep product knowledge and brand knowledge for HelloSign and that makes a lot of sense to me. And if anyone listening wants to hear more about the Dropbox side of all this of brand studio then, listen to the previous episode because we interviewed Liz from Dropbox in that one. Talk to me about your role now then at Dropbox I guess we should start saying, what are your responsibilities as associate creative director?
Berenice: Yeah, so my job is essentially to oversee a brand manifestation through the framework of see, buy, use. And does the TLDRs, see it's really like campaign efforts, the first touch customers see us in an ad, a billboard, TV spot. And then buy is experience mostly interactive through the flow of purchasing product trials signing up and then use is the brand manifesting is definitely in the product. So really kinda keeping those consistent and understanding like what level do they manifest and kinda make recommendations and meet with like the stakeholders in those areas, just to make sure that we are speaking to users at the right kinda tone and we are really leveraging the brand to like help customers make the right decisions about our products. On the day to day, I really, what I do is I define a lot of scope for projects. I provided like you said a lot of historical context. I feel like the designers work on certain projects according to their skills and according to the level and according to their interests and yeah, pretty much just like help fill in the gaps on like what's maybe technically possible, what has been tried in the past, where are we going? And yeah tried to kinda deliver on those projects, obviously within deadline, within like scope, if all goes well.
Charli: And the difference in between your role and maybe other associate creative directors on the Dropbox team is that you're responsible for the spectrum of the see, buy, use, whereas the others tend to focus on one of those pillars for Dropbox itself as the main brand.
Berenice: That's correct. Yeah, so the other ACDs work on see and then another one in buy and another one in use and I pretty much kind of work on all three at the same time which is no easy task. But at the same time I think being still like a smaller company than Dropbox, it's still kinda can manage that but you know things can changing rapidly and probably might not be the case, you know soon who knows.
Charli: Yeah, yeah, who knows? As things merge more you know. What about the rest of the brand studio team? Are you the only designer who is focused solely on HelloSign and you sort of, I guess like hire or work with other designers on the brand studio team to get projects completed into collaborate on things.
Berenice: There about like 35 people in brand studio between ACDs, managers, producers, designers, illustrators, strategists, writers, and some of them are contractors and freelancers in the team. So, there is an illustrator, they're posed to me and an interactive designer. But we really use the strengths of like a lot of the other designers in projects for HelloSign. And that's why it's really helpful to kinda be there and provide a lot of the context though we do have like designers that specialize in HelloSign because of like the constant work that they kinda need to be plugged into. But yeah, I mean tasks come in and you know there's always someone we can resource it to. And yeah, that's what like the rest of the team is for.
Charli: That's really cool, it's kind of like you are a small marketing and brand design team still, but you have the resources of a much larger one 'cause you can pull from the rest of Dropbox brand studio when you need to, you know, when something's important.
Berenice: Yeah, yeah and it's great because these designers have been working for Dropbox products and kind of understand the frameworks. And for them it's kinda really interesting to kinda see at the same thing like how a different product operates and maybe like how we speak to a different audience and in where our possibilities for like using same language or maybe just similar visual, like treatments for things. Every time a new designer kinda comes in with a... Into a new project at HelloSign, they're like, wow, okay. So it's a little bit less of like, oh, autopilot I know what to influence like, okay, let me take a step back and think a little bit and let me actually learn a little bit more about the product. So I do find that they're very excited about trying out projects for the team.
Charli: Totally that's like typical in-house designer thing, it's like you're so focused on one brand and like one style and so it's nice to every now and then just do something a little bit different.
Berenice: Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure for everyone. And the cool thing is that designers have like also different skillsets even like in the brand designers. So some are pretty good at like just lay out and they will tap the, maybe like someone else who's like really good in like product visuals and like abstract UI and it's a very... It's a team that really values kinda like, kinda critique and feedback and I think is really... We take it upon everyone to kinda like deliver work for things that might be really ambiguous that's like bringing an entire company with its own brand into another one and then kinda like see what the future will look like, right. And at the same time delivering like on the product that we need to add certain deadlines. So, it's definitely a lot of team effort for sure.
Charli: Can we talk more about how exactly you collaborate across the design team? Do you have like weekly or monthly design crits? Do you have stand-ups? Talk to us a little bit about what that working relationships like.
Berenice: So my favorite part is creative review. So we have creative review every Thursday. And for the most part it'll be a signup and there's always someone wants to show work. And really like everyone tends in brand studio, especially the designers and illustrators and ACD's. And I love because it really can show work at any stage and you can come very much clean and say, I am so stuck on this, please help me out, I don't know where to go X, Y, Z here. And you get just like a myriad of like super candid responses on like, let's help you break down the problem. And just like kind of the way that people come in together and just kinda like provide just the best well intentioned feedback and kinda understand where you're at because like a lot of it is kinda like, when do we need to figure this out buy, like let's work with your constraints, I've found super helpful.
Charli: So just a safe environment to, just be able to go into a meeting with... You know quite a few people would say, I'm totally stuck, I don't know what I'm doing and have them help you and feel okay doing that, that's great that you have that.
Berenice: It reminds me a lot of school. When I was in college and you have a deadline the next day, and you are... Everyone's in there in the studio pasting things, printing things. And someone's just not quite done with something or haven't figured out and everyone kinda huddles around and start kinda like, okay, let's help you out. It's that kinda attitude of like, we all want you to succeed. I love it, but it's just a constant and it really is great. We also do have a monthly brand all hands where we really talk about, the team will welcome new team members, birthdays, we do this thing called brand love where we shower someone in love and kudos and appreciation. There is a broader design all hands also monthly with our VPF design. And that's where we also talk about vision and strategy and top of minds in the org, maybe like things that happened in the company, how do they affect design? Our stands, our opinions, and the housing design team I also have buy weekly design meeting where I pretty much touch base with product design and we kinda stay connected.
Charli: Oh cool.
Berenice: Yeah, we pretty much just like make sure that nothing's straying too far from where we should be and we're moving kinda like at a very similar cadence.
Charli: That's great, yeah. So it sounds like there's a lot of making sure... Talking to each other, making sure everyone's on the same page. But also making time for the relationship building stuff as well. I think that's important too for getting good work done is if you trust your workmates and you feel supported by them and setback a relationship.
Berenice: I did forget to add, we do have office hours and super important. Let's say that someone can make creative review at this limited time, we do have office hours for see, buy use and HelloSign. So whoever is working, for example, maybe designers working on like some ads or maybe like an ebook or say a landing page, they kinda like look at which pretty much area it fits and they sign up and it's an entire hour and everyone kinda stays and kinda sees the work. And it's also really great to see kind of the variety of projects that you work with. And it also, honestly, it has helped me tremendously to just even anticipate things that I might run into. Yeah, I think it's been really helpful for everyone to kind of solve a problem together. And that way we don't have to run into the same thing, like in multiple times so office hours, really, really great.
Charli: Again, lots of talking to each other and making sure that everyone can learn from what other designers are going through. Before we go too much further into details of like project process because I have lots of questions on that. But let's go a bit higher level and talk about the HelloSign brand a bit. 'Cause you mentioned, it's got a different brand and the designers like to work on this different target audience from time to time. How would you describe the HelloSign brand and target audience?
Berenice: So when we define the brand a couple of years ago, we made sure that it would always be perceived as simple, helpful, and delightful. I think we took a lot of pride on defining, redefining the expectations of what a brand focused on like legality and agreement and signing could be. Because most people have like really negative associations with paperwork and forms and contracts so we wanted to, can change the relationship between our users and what aspect of their businesses, or our audiences definitely small businesses. So we embrace illustration pretty early on. And we also favored really clean and simply lay out, our product is very clean and very simple to use kinda like, succeed it really focuses on kind of like, kinda staying out of the way and just kinda letting you do your thing and kinda like move on to the next thing. As a product, grew was starting to kinda introducing more products. We started implementing color as kind of like a way of differentiating the products. So HelloFax was a time yellow and HelloWorks which was kinda like our smart kinda like form product is green and HelloSign remain blue, but we also have like API. So it started getting definitely a little bit more complex, but it would definitely define, okay, we need to use color in a way that it's still like accessible and it's still like friendly and it's still like... It's still makes us stand out from one of your standard kinda corporate software looks like. So yeah, that's how I would define the brand. Definitely always very simple, there's an element of transparency. There's more products in the space nowadays but at the time I think that just the reinforcement of like, we are a simple to use product but we are very much legal and we're being very transparent with like opening up the conversation of like what's needs to meet you and where is illegal and what you can do with it, it was very important to us.
Charli: Yeah, yeah, that is important. Making it feel trustworthy but also not like scary and off putting that it's to, yeah, unapproachable I guess maybe is a good word for it. Yeah, I feel like I can definitely see everything you said in the HelloSign brand for sure. Let's go into a recent design project maybe that you've worked on at HelloSign, is there one that comes to mind that we could talk through?
Berenice: We just recently worked on some, kinda consolidating some pages, landing pages for SEO purposes. I think that that is something that gets a little bit complicated at times and just recently we had to kinda like sit down and go through a bunch of these.
Charli: Okay, well, I'm super interested in this 'cause we're going through something very similar at the moment at ConvertKit. Just like 400 pages on our marketing site, which ones are really needed and how do we focus on the most important ones? Where did this project come about? Who raised the issue for it I guess and was like, hey, we need to work on this.
Berenice: So it was a combination of people at different times, I think it just kind of consolidated very recently as in like, we just need to take action on this. But I mean, one of the people I raised the issue on like the number of pages, whatever devs, variation I'm like this is going to become a problem in the backend very quickly. And also, yeah, our demand generation and web optimization. Managers were just like this is starting to kind of hurt our ranking. And this is kind of unmanageable at the same number of pages that were out kinda like a stray so let's kind of like just round up all of these and see what we can do with them.
Charli: And do you have someone like a project manager on the team who handles the prioritization of things and says like, this is when we're gonna fit this project in this is who's gonna work on it?
Berenice: Yeah, so we operate on quarters. So there is a forecasting and planning every quarter and the marketing team pretty much house together and defines a projects in kinda priority. There is room for... I mean, obviously there's always things that pop up and we brand studio are like happy to accommodate but sometimes we just need to shuffle things around and cut scope on things and move things to another quarter or maybe just speed things up. But yeah, so once there's a request and we kinda like see a little bit of like what the quarter's gonna look like at the big... Actually even before the quarter is actually done, we see like the following quarter kinda like at a glance-
Charli: Yeah, planning in advance.
Berenice: Yeah. And we start really thinking about who would be a good match for a project and then a producer is assigned. And then the producer really starts thinking about, okay, like timelines and they're really experienced in like knowing kinda like baselines for projects. I mean they've worked in so many different ones that they cannot understand, oh, this is the part where we're gonna probably hit a snag. So let's get that earlier on defined. They touched base with the stakeholders kind of like if the briefest and finalized just kinda get, okay let's wrap this up, let's start presenting this to design and then once we have a brief and it's submitted and we have kinda like more of less like a timeline and we kind of know that we can work on it, we kick off a meeting and then it's the stakeholder, the producer, myself and most of the time and the designer who's gonna be working on it. And we talk about like anything that might not be clear in the brief to try re-define expectations, clear gray areas and really kinda digging into like maybe what kind of a little bit of a pre-mortem like what could go really wrong when it's... Yeah, what are we very, very optimistic here that come and bite us you know at the end. And also what other associated tasks have we not... I mean are related to this project that we haven't actually fleshed out. Things like for example, are we gonna need any illustration? Are we going to be needing a photography for this? Do we need a brand writer to actually proofread? Or is the PMM's copy just as good to go? Things like that. So we've fleshed out on the kickoff meeting. And then after that, our producer kinda sets up timeline and the designer pretty much starts kinda like putting things together and if it's like a page or in this case, we started thinking about yeah, like, well, we have this many pages and this particular project, we worked with a vendor who really kinda specializes on, hey don't think extracting really information about all of these pages and kinda finding them which was probably like the most daunting task.
Charli: Yes, they hide don't they?
Berenice: They do.
Charli: There's pages on your site and you're like, where did you come from? I didn't know you existed.
Berenice: Yeah and the way they did it, it's like very smart. I mean they do use software that kinda like really helps you 'cause one has like a site map but the true site map is... It's not pretty. So, and then kinda providing, giving a score to the pages, just kinda like thinking of like really the quality of like the design things like, it might be very out-of-date. So that's like already a dent. The content might not be up to date or might not be really good, that's another one. So like really giving a score and like really thinking about on their end, like okay, URLs and keywords and yeah, the designer just starts thinking about too about, so we are going to be replacing a lot of these pages, what kind of work needs to be done from scratch? What really kinda also scaling the work. So what we did for this to say, okay, we have copy written for like let's say 15 pages. But realistically, since we're kinda like tackling this a little bit from a fresh point of view, let's work with a small bundle of three. Because that allows us to see what three pages we designed can do, what the impact of these can be. And then we can kind of like maybe create a process for the next bundle to be executed a little more quickly or like, if we need to actually go back and it didn't work out we can redo, we can iterate.
Charli: Yeah, right, with the learnings from that first three. You know you can apply them to the rest of me since.
Berenice: Yeah, I mean the process has been that once the wire frames let's say are kinda ready, we kinda touch base with stakeholders. There's some review, the hierarchy looks good, everything like it's working. We dive into like now visual design. And at times the designer will also create the department visuals but sometimes there'll be someone else who like, oh, this person is just really... Just kinda really is great at it so they'll take care of it. In this case he did. And yeah, just kinda going into, if we're talking about a particular feature and we don't have like a product visual, like a natural dry, then we kinda craft that and also thinking about things like I'll text in how are we exporting assets as well and character count we go over like the copy a little bit more. So those things can always start kinda thinking about and touching base with stakeholders if anything needs to be revised. After that, we have kind of like a more of a visual design review. In the middle of this, I mean, we saw this pages, I saw them like in our office hours and creative review. I mean, these pages kinda got shared and kinda seen by other team members and they got to ask questions about like how's that problem solved? How are you gonna tackle those 15 pages? And then kinda... Again, learnings for them if they ever have to kinda do that. And then yeah, pretty much if we feel good about the visual design we can touch base again with stakeholders, we tie loose end, everything looks good to go if there's any feedback, we make sure to put it in. And then yeah, we prepare on intact projects. We make sure that from the very beginning, like we always kinda have like a conversation with the developer. Especially if there's a project that is kinda gonna be new, it was something that is outside of like the system. When we prepare for handoff, we definitely meet with the developer and be like, okay, is there anything here that we should be adding some extra notes, anything deviates from what we've done before. Yeah and then we just kinda prepare things for hand off, we export assets and we hand them off to actually the producer who would kinda like take all the files and the baton and inform everyone of that the project has kinda reached these milestones. And it's now kinda has... It has entered the stage of like a build and then QA et cetera.
Charli: And what designed tool gets used at HelloSign?
Berenice: Figma sur, yeah. Figma sur darling.
Charli: And you sure the answer is Figma, yeah.
Berenice: Yeah you know, I remember when we moved from Sketch a few years before the acquisition. Yeah, we were heavy Sketch users and then we transitioned to Figma. We haven't looked back ever since.
Charli: Haven't looked back.And what other tools are a part of this design and build process like. What is your sites built on?
Berenice: So we use Webflow as a CMS. Yay! Huge fan and yeah, we partnered up with Webflow developer a couple of years ago to kinda move this site over. Currently we have two developers kinda working on it and kind of optimizing it and making sure that all of the other things we have plugged into it for like analytics, metrics and forums, it's working pretty well. And so yeah, we use Webflow for design. Let me think. I think for Interactive that would be it, I will use After Effects in loading which we then implement into Webflow for certain pages that have like kinda key animation putting on current homepage. So yeah, After Effects, it's definitely something that we use from time to time.
Charli: And the two developers that you said, that work on the Webflow site. Are they internal on the team at Dropbox or at HelloSign?
Berenice: They are a part of the marketing team. So they are marketing developers and they're internal, yeah.
Charli: Cool. That's nice to have that resource internally.
Berenice: Yeah, I know, it's great. I mean I think that it's one of your best friends. As an interactive designers, you wanna keep that relationship like just in the best possible way because you're learning constantly as like technology changes and I'm not on Webflow myself a lot in it. So I get to kinda like really understand like the actual functionality and I guess like the, how new feature affects us when a developer tries it out and kinda like, kinda it comes in and kinda says, this could be big for us or like we can actually do those kinda how it happened that we could implement a lot of files like kinda happens.
Charli: Right, I was just thinking about that. Speaking of the marketing team, is the marketing team structured in a similar way to brand studio where there is a marketing team focused on HelloSign as well as like a separate side of the marketing team that focuses on Dropbox.
Berenice: Yeah, so the marketing team at HelloSign is fairly big. It does have about, oops, I don't wanna... I'm gonna say it's about like 18 to 20 people. Well, that's not cute but 18 to 20 people. And the leadership does kinda like dotted line report into the broader Dropbox marketing structure, but they do fairly operate fairly independently. So our goals are different, ours are different. So they do kind of follow kinda their own kinda like plan for the year and for the quarters.
Charli: Would you say that most of the projects that you end up working on come from the marketing team and from their needs?
Berenice: Yeah, yeah a lot of like product and brand awareness, product launches. I want my feature launches and event promotion, education, things like case studies, there's like blog you know. And on the acquisition and growth kinda side of things, just kinda like, we talked of web optimization, kinda like taking care and revisiting flows, technical debt, any sign that might be kind of hurting us in any given way, site audit, architecture oversight. I mean we have multiple products and we're at a company that has multiple products. So, kind of like understanding how one person navigates through the health I just had and might kinda end up in the Dropbox site as well and how to get a keep unexperienced that benefits both companies definitely falls on projects that marketing HelloSign also starts.
Charli: Nice. Yeah, and it's interesting to me that the developers are on the marketing team as part of the org structure. How do you ensure that relationship stays close and that you have a good working relationship despite being on separate teams, any tips you can share there.
Berenice: We do have like a lot of kind of squad channels on Slack that really kind of allows for kinda quicker discussion on items and long task. At times when you are working with like a larger group, you need to kinda like fill in with more context. But sometimes when you're just kinda like have a smaller, kinda like a tiger team, you are able to just kinda like go straight into like, you know maybe like technical language and any shoes and get like an answer down a little bit more quickly. But I would say that I work with the marketing team very closely like it's I... I go to their team events, I can be very much part of an honorary member of the team so it doesn't feel as separate to be quite honest. I think we've done a really good job at just kind of like really placing me a lot of value on understanding our roles and just making sure that we're looped in into like what's important to both teams. And the developers kinda like see both sides. They can see kinda like technical repercussions of something that's not maybe implemented right, or maybe something where we might have cut corners or maybe something where it wasn't thought through. So it's in the best interest for like both like marketers and PMMs, more to like brand designers to like understand the site very well through like our relationship with our developers.
Charli: I think it comes again to just talking to each other is what I'm hearing from you in a lot of this. I'm curious to know how your role has changed over the years at HelloSign in terms of hands-on design time you know. 'Cause as we are talking through this project, you know I heard from you that there was a designer working on this and Figma and you perhaps weren't the one working on the design yourself, is that usually the case these days? Are you more at the strategy level?
Berenice: A little bit of both. So my role is hybrid. So I do have some projects that I take on, my manager sometimes we'll be like, hey, there's like for example no one to take on this task, I'm just gonna have go ahead and just do it. So I do love that there's like that element of like, everyone's a team, we're all gonna help out wherever we can. But yeah, my role is hybrid. So I do have some icy projects that I touch on but yes I think that my role has been changing towards really being that person who can provide a lot of like zoomed out version kinda eagles view. And I do a lot of review of work. And a lot of it is it's kinda providing insight into like what the future could look like and kinda helping designers like scale themselves. So sometimes there'll be, you like really interesting work for a project but I kinda know through experience that the frequency at which we're gonna do something is not gonna allow for this to be reammended every time. So that's why you kinda like have a conversation with designers that like this is great. What can we extract from this approach that we can actually like deliver every single time without compromising the quality otherwise we're gonna bite more than we can chew and gonna like get overwhelmed or just kinda like burnt out right?
Charli: Yeah, more systems thinking.
Berenice: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I also do like a lot of review of work. We partner with some agencies for a lot of the production work which is like resizing, and then some video production and I'm there as kinda like a, something gets on between brand and marketing kinda help kinda like steer conversation towards like hey, that voice and tone wasn't quite right or like, oh this is the right implementation of things.
Charli: You're like the brand watchdog, you know you can share about anything.
Berenice: It's a little scary but I... Let's say, yeah I mean, we can say it like that. But yeah, I'm not even gonna argue that, that's definitely one way to say it.
Charli: I'm saying it that way 'cause that's what I feel like my role is at ConvertKit as well is to sort of stay aware of what's going on and be the one to speak up if I'm like hey, this isn't quite on brand enough.
Berenice: Yeah, that's very true.
Charli: Talking about your role some more, what metrics are you accountable for? Is it you're accountable for projects shipping on time or is there more specific I don't know like brand awareness or affinity, metrics that you're held accountable to S and ACD.
Berenice: Yeah. I would say us we have adopted, as well as I joined brand studio and we have kind of adopted like a pipeline of ships. I mean, it goes into like the team and then we were using also other designers. Just making sure that projects get delivered on time and kinda like stay in scope is very important but also kind of identifying when we need extra help. I think that a lot of the changes you can do can be temporary, can be kind of like advantages. But at the end of the day if you just need to keep growing the team as something that you have, a decision that you have to make. For brand I think that a lot of the metrics are getting more qualitative. It's really it's about like do things feel like on brand are things kind of like talking to the right audience and taps a lot whenever view work from other agencies, like is this like a good implementation? We do look at software that kinda gives us a more like a scoring based on kinda like, you know like our kind of share a voice and kind of like reviews and kinda sentiment. But that gives us more like a view on them again longer term. So it's kinda hard to like change like a month or even a quarter and kinda see it reflected dramatically. But you know something that really, would pay it a lot of attention is what people going to events for example, what are the sentiments that are getting from people visiting like the virtual boots at events? Or maybe like the kind of like words used and like the messages in there like in our chat, in our homepage. A lot of those messages gives us like a lot of insights into what kind of information we're not delivering, or we are doing a good job in. And even things like, I mean we consider ourselves a very transparent brand. If we feel like people aren't finding something like information that is very crucial, then we kind of like doing a disservice to it. So kind of like staying on top of that, it's very important for us. Yeah no, no strong definitive metrics that I can say.
Charli: It's more qualitative and that you're keeping a pulse on things. What about site data? Is there someone there like a data analytics team you can work with to see how pages are performing and to ask questions of it to know what to change and what to improve?
Berenice: Yeah we have a data team in the marketing team and we'll also have a web optimization team. And yeah, we definitely look at, things conversions, downloads on pieces, traffic, time on page. I think the scoring is important, it's one of the things that we've been doing more regularly as we kinda take... Looks at our site and kinda decide what are we going to be, sunsetting or what are we gonna be able... Where we gonna be updating. A lot of that insights turns into that experimentation. We do meet and talk about what is possible to change around without me kinda like being involved every single time. So we have a little bit of a playground and then the team can then report back on like, hey, do you remember this page in this experiment? Here was the experimentation plan for it, we were gonna test these two section moving them around and this one performed better. And then kinda that cumulative kind of insights just kinda helps us make better decisions in the long-term and kind of like not kinda like maybe stumble upon the same things over and over.
Berenice: We have a data team and a web optimization manager who would just take a look at every single web project. She's pretty much embedded in just to make sure that we are considering experimentation and opportunities for these pages to really deliver.
Charli: Yeah, totally. And I guess also taking learnings from experience that have been run and seeing where else can we apply this knowledge and use it going forward as well, sharing that information. What advice do you have to other designers who may be at a smaller company that gets acquired by a bigger company? What advice do you have for them for, I don't know, maintaining the brand, for maintaining their processes or learning how to be a climatized to a new company. Curious to hear if there's anything you learned from this acquisition by Dropbox that you wanna pass on.
Berenice: Oh man, change is so exciting. I mean honestly, being very candid here. If we were going to be acquired by a company, I think Dropbox would have been like the one that I would have wished for. I think be open to learning. One of the first things that I realized is that there's a lot of great things about having a small team because you do get a lot of ownership on the products. But the projects really... You can only get so much feedback from your peers and a small team and from like your marketing partners. And there's like the experience and the way of running things from teams that have experienced maybe the challenges of the smaller and medium company, those are really priceless and you don't really get to learn that until you hit those next. So just really be open to like suggestions and like maybe like really question about how process was arrived at. Maybe it's the time, maybe it's a time for you to implement that. Something that I did a lot was when we got access to pretty much a lot of the documents and in the design team, I read through a lot of older projects. And I found a lot of the challenges that we were running into at the time. So I was like, this gives me almost like 50% of the answer. And then this gives me the language to express maybe the thing that I hadn't figured out how to express that something was bothering me about this problem or I couldn't really narrow it down, here was the answer for those things. And that was really helpful. I mean it really felt like going back to school, it really felt like you were reading from a textbook a little bit. And not everything applies necessarily to you but definitely perspective. And like from brand like Dropbox that really pays a lot of attention to design and like brand expression, the insights really felt like kinda finding a bit of a gold mine you know?
Charli: So, just basically embrace the change you know and see where you can learn from it and take as an opportunity, I love it.
Berenice: And you know, I think something that the designers or brand suitor really also got really excited about, was that sometimes the bigger companies processes are a little bit like there because there's more people involved, there's more eyes on the work. I guess also kind of like the wearing a lot of hats. It was really exciting to see people that were like, oh my God you did this but you also did that, it kinda makes them kind of like also excited for them to try other areas, right. Not maybe like maybe they'd been specializing on something for a little while and just kinda meeting someone who's gonna be doing a little bit of everything because of really like, that's how it's set up. Exactly, it gets them excited to be like, maybe yeah, maybe I can do that too, I can explore that as well.
Charli: Yeah, so there's like learning on both sides.
Berenice: That's right.
Charli: Let's end by talking about the project or like impact I don't know that you're most proud of in your time at HelloSign.
Berenice: And I would definitely say that was moving the website to Webflow. I think that at the time we were pretty much doing updates to our website on kinda like aligning them to like our release schedule for product, which was like every six weeks. And that was very difficult for the marketing team to launch an update. Imagine if you have a typo or something, you have to kinda like set up like a Jira ticket and it get prioritized, talk to the right people. It was just not scalable and we were already, I feel like big enough that we shouldn't have been dealing with that problem. And I'm also sure that the engineers were very happy to not have to resolve those issues for us. So I was tasked at the time to like find kinda like our CMS and I looked through the options and I think Webflow was definitely the one that stood out at the time. Just because of the flexibility and you know as a designer you kinda wanna know, if you're going to be able to get your type exactly how you want it. If you're gonna get your spacing exactly how you want it like how really the level you don't want something that's like necessarily plug and play. You don't want templates, you can never want to go in there and just make it really your own. And Webflow really allowed for that. So before kinda making the decision what I ended up doing was that I went ahead and built our homepage on Webflow like on a trial.
Charli: Yeah, cool.
Berenice: Let's see how it goes. And the fact that I was able to do it in like an evening, I was kinda blown away. I was like okay, this is... I am not a developer and I was able to do this with my limited knowledge of like the terminology. And it also kinda like helped me really solidify what I did know, like the terminology of classes, of you know like it devs, it really can, okay. It put it all together, helped kinda seal those concepts together and kinda visualize them, those really helpful. So I was able to do that and I remember very clearly that I said okay, there's an export feature export code. And I always felt those never work, it's always something that, yeah, of course and you plug it in and it's not gonna display properly. So I explored the code, I give it to one of developers and I said can we like see how this looks like and like experiment page. And I think it run like almost perfectly like maybe like 98, 99% there. And I was like, okay, maybe this is probably the way to go. After that, we ended doing an audit of the site at the time again which is trying to categorize pages, kinda score them. And over the course I think of... I think it was about like six weeks, we redesigned and rewrote a lot of the pages and rebuilt them on Webflow. And, oh man, it was a lot of work, I don't know how... I mean I can't even imagine how much harder would have been if we had maybe picked that solution or we had done something else. But it definitely helped me build a relationship with our site and really kind of get to know it in a different level, right. In again, like I think that just having designed systems, just kinda like being like the thing in front, center that I knew that we needed to tackle to help this kind of like be implemented in a way that was easier, it was kinda like firsthand experience with like, okay, components are just unimportant part of a design system then a designer and designers experience and interactive. So what we did it and we were pretty happy with it and you know we still use Webflow. I still look back and kinda like, I'm really impressed that we were able to do it with like, just me pretty much as a designer and in nothing. I don't think it was anything critical that happened like wrong, everything was great. I don't think a lot of people get to experience that and very, very often but I didn't and I'm really proud of that. And now we have a website that supports like a lot of pages in a blog and just an entire like flow and connects to a product and I'm just really happy that I was able to be part of that, of the strategy and the planning and the execution of such a big, scary thing at the time.
Charli: Yeah, that's a big change and I don't know, yeah, I can totally understand why you're proud of that to have been the one to suggest that this is the solution that I think is gonna help this and then seeing it implemented, seeing it work, yeah, that's awesome, well done.
Berenice: Thank you.
Charli: Well thank you so much for everything you've shared in this episode Berenice, so much useful information here and it's nice to hear about this side of Dropbox and where HelloSign fits into it. Thanks for being here.
Berenice: Thank you so much.
Charli: I'm so glad that I got to speak to Berenice about how HelloSign work is done at Dropbox. It's the perfect follow on from my episode last week with the Dropbox Executive Creative Director, Liz Gilmore. if you miss that, definitely go back and listen to it so you have like the full picture. You can find it as well as all of our other episodes at InsideMarketingDesign.co and check out the description for links to Berenice and links to HelloSign as well. We are getting close now to the end of season two, they are just three more episodes left. So if you've been enjoying the show, I really appreciate it if you would take the time to go leave a rating and a review on Apple podcasts. I've seen it near the top of like the design charts in some countries, which is super exciting. I'd love to hear your feedback on the show as well. Do you want a season three next year? What companies should we feature in it? If you do, feel free to leave a comment on the YouTube video or tweet me @charliprangley and let me know. Thanks to Webflow for sponsoring season two, thanks to you for listening to it and I will see you next time. Bye.
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