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Shopify moved from a centralized marketing design model to a decentralized one to allow designers to develop deeper insights into the products they're designing marketing materials for. In this episode you'll hear about that shift and the impact its had on the team, and we'll dig in to the processes and projects that Lucy and her team work on for the core product.
0:00 - Introduction
1:40 - The MUX team structure
4:40 - Use of the UX title at Shopify
6:45 - From centralized to decentralized
13:20 - Collaboration with the product team on Hydrogen
16:35 - Partnering with product marketing
19:10 - Designing the Hydrogen brand & landing page
23:45 - Collaborating in a remote setting
25:30 - Project timeframe
27:35 - The main Shopify brand
30:45 - The Hydrogen brand
35:05 - Regular responsibilities for the core MUX team
38:00 - Testing & metrics of success
44:30 - Project management & prioritising time
48:05 - What Lucy is most proud of
49:45 - Closing thoughts
Charli: Welcome back to Inside Marketing Design. I'm Charli, I'm the Creative Director at ConvertKit. And to be quite honest, I'm very nosy. I started this show because I love learning about the inner workings of other tech companies, so I can learn from them, pick up process tips to apply to my own work, and just 'cause, like I said, I'm very curious. And in today's episode, I'm speaking with Lucy List who is the Design Manager on the Core Product Marketing team at Shopify. And I think it's fair to say that Shopify is the most popular e-commerce platform. Businesses all over the world use it to host their online store. But the team at Shopify also make other products, too, like Oberlo, Handshake, Shop Pay. There's a lot going on. And as a company, they are well over 7,000 people now. That's a big company. Lucy shares a lot of great insights in this episode about the Shopify brand, the team structure, and some changes they actually made to it recently, as well as the process behind the launch of the latest Shopify product, Hydrogen. Before we get into it though, let me tell you a little bit about our sponsor, Webflow. Webflow is a no-code website building tool that I use for all of my personal web projects, and for some at work as well. As a designer, it lets me build a site using a visual editor that just makes sense to me because it feels like a design tool, and all the while, in the background, Webflow is writing nice clean code for me. Check it out for your next web project at insidemarketingdesign.co/webflow, and you can see what I mean for yourself about it being a great building and launching experience.
But now let's get into it and take a look inside marketing design at Shopify. Welcome to Inside Marketing Design, Lucy. I'm excited to dig in to marketing design at Shopify. This is a company that I feel like I've been watching from the sidelines for a while, and I have friends who work there, and yeah, excited to learn more about you and what your team does.
Lucy: Yeah, I'm really excited and nervous to be here, but more excited.
Charli: Good, as long as the excitement outweighs the nerves, I think you're in a good place. So let's start with a very easy question that I know you can answer. Tell us about your design team at Shopify. What is your role? What team do you manage? Give us the lay of the land.
Lucy: Yeah, so at Shopify, we have about 500 plus, approximately, UXers, and out of those, we are about 140 marketing UXers, and we kind of call them MUX.
Charli: MUX. M-U-X.
Lucy: So marketing UX.
Charli: I like it.
Lucy: Exactly. And within our MUX team, we have, I guess, four disciplines and there's 17 of us. So it spans from design, content, and development and production. So production is kind of video, photography and motion. So I lead a team of, I think, four designers. We have an intern starting, and we also have an open role for a staff, and our team falls under our UX Director, which is Maggie Frost, and she actually just started, maybe a month ago, and she's come from Facebook and Instagram. So yeah, we're really, really excited to have her lead our team.
Charli: What does is discipline, or like the name of the team that you lead?
Lucy: So I'm the Design Manager of the Core Product Marketing team. I lead the marketing UX side of the MUX team. I'm mainly focused on design.
Charli: Tell us more about the work that your team does then, marketing UX. What does this mean and what are you responsible for?
Lucy: So we are responsible for the creative and strategic marketing of Shopify's core product portfolio. And so what that actually means is the awareness, the adoption, the advocacy of our core products. So everything inside the box when entrepreneurs or merchants sign up for Shopify. So as a product marketing team, we're essentially storytellers, and we're trying to like deliver the right message to the right audience in the right channel. And so sometimes, our audiences are entrepreneurs and merchants, and sometimes they're developers and partners. So depending on who our audience is, we want to reach them in those channels, and just ultimately have a concise voice around Shopify's product value, and specifically, on my team, we're the marketing design team, so we're visual storytellers. So we're responsible for what that looks like, what it feels like, and how it shows across consistently.
Charli: So on this, what I feel like the sense I'm getting from you is that marketing UX at Shopify is filled with people who aren't just designers. You're putting that UX title on a lot of other roles. Can you talk a little bit more about that? 'Cause that's really interesting to me, that use of terminology.
Lucy: Yeah, so marketing, well, just UX as a craft, in general, we span across like product and marketing, and so we have those two sort of streams, and within those streams in product, we have researchers, we have front-end developers, content folks, design, industrial design, And then from a marketing perspective, like I mentioned earlier, production, so video, animation, motion, content development, as well as design. And so we work together when projects come in and we deliver it, and depending on what the application is or what the channels are, or the mediums, we are able to fully service and produce marketing content.
Charli: I like this framing of it, because yeah, I mean, when you said marketing UX, my brain instantly went to, well, UX design then, obviously. But yeah, you're right. There's a lot of other things that contribute to a user experience than just design. And so I like that Shopify have put this name to it and that everyone falls under that category.
Lucy: Yeah, I think we've been really, really lucky in that like in some smaller companies that I've worked at, you kind of have to wear all those hats, and like do all those roles, and we have dedicated people who can help out, and be kind of like owners in their respective fields, and share their talents across. And so yeah, our team is focused on the design and visual portion, and we work together and make it come to life, depending on the channel.
Charli: And your team is the marketing design or marketing UX for the core product. Can you tell us a little bit about the team structure there? Because I mean, I really don't know, Shopify have separate products that come under the Shopify name, so it sounds like maybe you have a design team for each one?
Lucy: We do. So we used to be a centralized sort of marketing team where everybody is all in one, and we worked through all the marketing and creative, and we launch. What we found there was that we were treated kind of like a service or an agency within Shopify, and so we weren't close to product. Since then, I would say towards the end of last year and mostly this year, we've now become a decentralized marketing team. So what that means is we have marketing teams that support each and every product area that we have at Shopify. So when I started, I thought, oh, well, Shopify just builds websites for commerce, but we do way more than that. For example, like shop, retail, money, SFN, which is Shopify's Fulfillment Network. There's global branding, there's ecosystems and partners, and growth. And so all of those product areas and services have a marketing team. Yeah, it's a lot, so there's 140 of us, each with their own little sub-MUX groups. And we're all responsible for marketing each of our product areas. My team actually supports one of the largest product portfolios, obviously, 'cause it's core, and so we have a bigger team, but we do support over, I wanna say, 1,800 developers. Yeah, so it's a pretty big team with a lot of products and services. And so, if you can imagine just, yeah, our small but mighty team supporting all of that.
Charli: Yeah, you're like six people is the number that we got to, but you're not quite even six people yet, supporting that many. Wow, yeah, that's a lot.
Lucy: And we've actually doubled, like last year, we started with three folks, and this year we've doubled, almost doubled, and then hopefully next year, yeah, we'll get more folks in to help just share and talk about all the great work that our product team's doing.
Charli: And so you were at Shopify previously in the more centralized model? Can you tell me more about why the decision was made to become decentralized and how has it worked out for you? Are you pleased with the decision? Does it seem to be working out well?
Lucy: So as I was hired to help build up the marketing side of the design system, we also recognized that, yes, we are centralized. We are connected together as a marketing team, but we weren't really connected with the product side. And so that was a huge sort of red flag, where, yeah, we just need to get closer to product and become one team. So now I feel like we have more of a seat at the table. We're brought in earlier into the process. Yeah, it's very nice. And we're really, really understanding the product more so. We're given that time to sort of dig into the product, as opposed to when it used to be sort of centralized where you're kind of jumping from one project to the other. You're launching and then you just move. And so you don't really get that opportunity to kind of develop and grow with the product. It's been great. And I would say we still do have some things that could be better. Because we're all decentralized now, we need to come together as a marketing team. And so some of the work that I initially did for the marketing design system was sort of put aside because of the pandemic, and we kind of had to reprioritize just Shopify's priorities as a whole to help merchants, because, yeah, as you know, some folks had to close their doors, and they didn't have an online presence. And so we kind of had to rethink about like how we were going to help and support merchants through this tough time. Just internally, we reorg'd and we set aside design system for a bit, and now we're coming to this sort of realization, and it kind of happened early, but we're just having to focus on design systems, and now improving our processes, improving the way we work.
Charli: So that you can be more connected across the marketing team.
Lucy: Yeah, yeah. I know that last year there was a lot of... Because a lot of new teams were popping up, everybody is kind of focused on their product areas and building out their teams, and now that we've gone through that process for the year, we're comfortable enough to look outside, and start bringing everything together.
Charli: Like individually, these pillars are more stable now. So now we can look at how we connect them all.
Lucy: Exactly. Exactly.
Charli: I really liked that you shared that, too, because, I mean, quite honestly, the marketing site design system at ConvertKit, that I am responsible for, has been a mess over the past year. And it's just not something I've been able to prioritize, and I've been feeling guilty about it. And so honestly, it helps me to hear that like, no, Shopify even made this decision, that there was more important things than the design system right now. So I don't know, I love hearing that. I hope that people listening, maybe that makes them feel better, too.
Lucy: Yeah, for sure. Like we got it to a point where it was usable and we had the foundational and sort of basic pieces and those marketing teams could take and run with it, but now we're recognizing, okay, we need more than that. And we need to like refocus and just get back into systems thinking and design systems and how we scale it.
Charli: This feels like, as you're describing this, I'm seeing the diamond model that we often use to talk about design, of like starting together, going out wide and then coming back together. You're going wide was the separating into the decentralized teams, and now you're figuring out how to come back together again. Yeah, it's a interesting situation of it.
Lucy: And a thing to just point out is that like, it's not just the design system, but we need to get better at our processes of how we hire, onboarding, or like how we, I don't know, talk about Shopify, and how it looks across. So we just need to come together and be a little bit more clear and concise about how we look to the world.
Charli: Yeah, totally. All those like common threads that run throughout all of the marketing design teams. Let's talk about the current processes and things as they are though, because you mentioned that a benefit of this decentralized model is that now you're more connected to the product design team, and like just product in general of knowing what's going on. How do you collaborate with product as part the core product team that you're on?
Lucy: Hydrogen is a project that is super, super fresh in my mind because we had just launched on Monday. And so that was a project that we worked really, really closely with the product team. And it's such a tactical product that we had to.
Charli: To get that deep understanding, right?
Lucy: Exactly, and so what Hydrogen is, is a React-based framework for developers to build custom storefronts on Shopify. And so I can only say that now because I've been deep in it for the last few months. When I first started, it was just gathering all that context and like really understanding what exactly Hydrogen was. And so working really closely with the developers, working really closely with the product team, and our product owner or product manager. And so just really understanding the product and what it does and how it benefits and all of the value props and stuff like that. So that really helped kind of build out the brand and build out the visuals and all the marketing assets that are out in launch now. For me, really understanding the brand, really understanding and researching the audience itself, Like we normally, our audience is the entrepreneur and the merchants, but there are times when our audience are developers, and so that's something new-ish for us. We do have a sort of separate marketing UX team that's focused on our ecosystem and partners, and so they have the expertise. And so we also had to work with them to just pull in all the good nuggets that we could, yeah, just gather, and how to speak to this audience, what they're looking for. We also had a internal focus group of developers that we kept on reaching out to.
Charli: That's very handy to have access to those people internally.
Lucy:- Yeah, exactly, exactly. And yeah, we had focus groups, and we would just do it super casually, sharing really early and often. Like, what do you think of this? How does this resonate with you? And it's not just like the final product. It was like from the beginning when we were creating like what the logo and the feel would be like. And so it was always just like gut checks, and casual gut checks. Yeah, it's just been great. And I think when we launched, having the product side be like, yes, the product team built this thing. And finally, we have marketing that really resonates and really celebrates the product team's work. And so for them to be proud of it, like, that's really-
Charli: That's nice.
Lucy: Yeah, really a compliment to the work that we've done.
Charli: Yeah, it sounds like a lot of what you're doing as part of this process is what I would think of as product marketing, right? Do you have product marketers on the team, or like how much is the marketing team involved, like non-design side, if that makes sense, in this?
Lucy: Yeah, so like I said, our team is core product marketing and so our, I guess, partners or counterparts, are PMMs, so the product marketing managers. So we work really, really closely with them to create the brief, to put together a go-to-market plan. So we really understand like where we're trying to target and what the value props are, what's the message? And so we work together. So on this particular team, we had a content designer. We had two other designers, myself, and then a video motion animation person from the production team. And so we all work together as a MUX team to launch. Yeah, and we like to work and be brought in at the beginning just to understand the context, first of all, like the product that we're talking about, and understand the audience, and understand where they're gonna, I guess, best receive these messages, and where it's gonna click for them. So, yeah, it was-
Charli: So you're a part of the conversation like in the discovery phase of this, I guess, to figure those things out. Which definitely sounds like a very decentralized way of working, where you're not just getting a brief and being like, this is what we need, okay, let's go design.
Lucy: Well, yeah, and that's the way it used to be. And it was kind of like, here's the brief and just, we want this, this, this, and this, and just execute. And so it didn't feel like we were partners or collaborating together on it. This to me, this model really works because we're really getting into the product, and understanding it, and as we progress and build general availability, we're gonna have that context from before. We're tracking all the work. We will understand how people are engaging with all of the marketing assets, and so it will just better inform the next iteration or the next launch.
Charli: Cool, okay, there's so many things that you've just said that I want to go into more detail on, but let's keep talking first about Hydrogen and the launch of like the landing page for it, I guess, in particular, as an example to talk through. So once you've figured out the brief with everyone else on the team, who works on the design of the page, specifically, and what did that process look like?
Lucy: Yeah, so we actually initially started out with the brand. Because this was a product that is brand new for Shopify that we were launching, we wanted it to have its own look and feel separate from Shopify's look and feel, kind of how like React is separate from Facebook, or now, I guess, Meta. In the back of our minds, we knew, okay, it needs to look different, but also feel like it's supported by Shopify. It's trusted. You have a company like Shopify backing it up, so you know that it's going to be here and stay and not something that you will use and then just won't have the support or maintenance for it. So that needed to be clear and apparent through our branding, and so we started off with that, trying to understand the product, and then building out the logo and visuals for it. And so we went through, I think, in total, two-week sprint for the brand.
Charli: Wow, just two weeks? That seems short. That's amazing.
Lucy: Yeah, we didn't have a ton of time, but we did it. We managed to do it. So as we were building out the brand, we were also trying to figure out, okay, well, how would this translate to web, or how would it translate to social or other marketing assets? And so we just always had those applications in the back of our mind. And then once we came to like a final logo and visual direction, then we started the web stuff. And so when we started the web stuff, it was first really trying to understand where it's gonna live, who is going to go here, and how we're going to get them there? We did journey mapping and we did like understanding the mindset of where people are coming from and then where they're gonna go and what do they want to know? And what do they want to see when they land on the page? Like, how are we going to engage them to try out Hydrogen? And how are we going to engage them to get excited about building with Hydrogen? And so those are all things that were kind of in the back of our minds. And then just sort of the usual UX process of like, wireframing, sort of content design, and figuring out what are the chunks and pieces of messaging that we want to have on the page. And then jumping into visuals, and applying the branding and visual style from the first sprint into that. So we went through a lot of iterations and also a lot of iterations of the content itself. And yeah, just over time, just checking in with our stakeholders, checking in with our dev focus group to making sure that we're still on the right track and things still make sense. We also treated this project, like the web portion specifically, as a sort of MVP beta. If you look at the page, there's four CTAs, and you think, okay, that's a little much, it's crazy, but we did it purposeful, like we did it with intent that we want to get a gauge of how developers will start, and what will actually get them motivated to use Hydrogen, and so we're tracking those CTAs, and so that will inform what the GA, or general availability, of the website will have. Like what are those main CTAs that they interact with? And that's what we'll showcase
Charli: Nice, like a little test.
Lucy: Yeah, exactly.
Charli: How many designers worked on the design of this page?
Lucy: So it was myself and we had Katie who was responsible for the branding, and Cynthia who is responsible for more of the web. And then we kind of all came together for everything else afterwards, which is like blogs, emails, social. I think we did some animation stuff and video, and so Jose did some of our motion and just brought everything together and brought it to life.
Charli: And Shopify is now fully remote, too, right? So is there anything to share about how you work on a collaborative project like this? 'Cause this is coming from a place where, for me and for my team, we just have like one owner per project essentially, where it's like, I'm gonna design this, and you're gonna design that. And so it's like one person designing the full thing. So I'm super keen to learn about collaboration and any tips you have for doing that in a remote environment, too, on a project like this.
Lucy: Yeah, so we relied heavily on Figma, Slack, Google Hangouts. With Slack, the new sort of thing, the Huddle feature. It's essentially a feature where you just press and connect with someone on Slack, but it's just voice and it's not camera, because with camera fatigue, and sometimes it's just nice to have voice, and especially when you're working and you wanna be heads down, but also talk, and be bouncing ideas off of each other. And so there were days, and whatever, chunks of time where we just say, okay, you wanna Huddle? And so we'll pop on and then we'll just be in the Figma, be working, be jamming on stuff, and also have a voice sort of talking, and so it's kind of like they're beside you.
Charli: That's nice.
Lucy: Yeah, yeah, it is good. And we would have frequent sort of check-ins, so daily sort of stand up and check-ins, and then we would do our design-specific check-ins where we would either say, okay, these are the things I'm gonna work on, focus on those, and then, yeah, heads down, and go work, and then check back in at the end of the day, yeah.
Charli: You said that the branding process for this was very short. So I'm curious to know how long the rest of it was. Like, if we look at this beautiful webpage here, what was the timeframe on getting that designed?
Lucy: So, I think we started the brand stuff September. So two weeks into that, and then the web and everything else was, yeah, mid-September to end of October, and then, actually not end of October, 'cause we had to leave room, obviously, for development. So maybe-
Charli: That is a thing, yup.
Lucy: Late October, and then while they were building it, we focused on building out the tool kit, all the other marketing assets, and sort of templates. And so what we built out is not just the brand, but we had to create almost like a mini-visual design system. Because we were a decentralized team, what we build, like other marketing UX teams would take it, for example, like the social team would take the toolkit and build out their social campaigns from it, or the broadcast team would take it and build out some videos, and some like educational, or getting started videos and stuff like that. And so packaging everything up so that they had all the tools and assets and the marketing things that they needed.
Charli: So you basically, in like two months, made a whole brand, a whole website, and a whole design system and templates and shared it out with everybody. That's amazing.
Lucy: Yes. Yes, yes. So yeah, it was a lot of work, but a lot of fun work and yeah, it's not every day that Shopify releases a product and we get to create the brand for it. So a lot of the teamwork... I don't know, we're really excited to work on it and that just, yeah, motivated us to make the product better. And yeah, it was good overall.
Charli: Yeah, let's talk about the brand a little more. So, I mean, maybe we start with talking about the main Shopify brand, and then we can shift into Hydrogen, which anyone watching the video version has now seen, like how visually different it can look to the main brand. But yeah, let's talk about Shopify's brand. How would you describe the brand?
Lucy: I know what I'm supposed to say, which is like bold, innovative, and grounded. And so those are our brand attributes, but if I can just say that we are always trying to figure ourselves out, and I don't wanna say we're this and kind of, I don't know, put ourselves in this sort of box. We're always trying to get better. We're always trying to redefine ourselves. We really did start as a E-COM website building tool, and we've evolved since then. And we now have lots of products, lots of services, that we provide and we've had to redefine that space for ourselves. And so I do say bold, innovative and grounded does resonate, but we are still like new-ish, and like kind of trying to figure ourselves out and trying to find that space for ourselves to kind of own. So some of those attributes do stream into our work. So when I think about Hydrogen, it is definitely bold. It's definitely innovative. The grounded portion to me is where the merchant comes in. Like we wanna showcase the merchants as themselves. We want them to shine. We want them to be the stars. So the work that we kind of like... Our marketing is honest, it's authentic, it's empathetic and we want to be helpful. Giving them all the tools that they need to be entrepreneurs, 'cause the last thing they wanna think about is like money and taxes and like all of that stuff. And so we're trying to like, I don't know, give them that sort of independence and empower them to do and focus on what they love, as opposed to like building a business.
Charli: Yeah, I love the flexibility that comes from you saying, you know, we're still figuring ourselves out. We have our base, it's sort of like, as humans, we have our base morals. We know what is true for us, but maybe we're still figuring out how we express ourselves and we're like trying new things and stuff like that. And it sounds like you can do that with a brand, which is really cool.
Lucy: The fun thing for me to see is the brand and audience expansion team, which is another marketing UX team. They are always experimenting. They do things behind the scenes in like small little campaigns, and they test out, like they're testing out things on TikTok, or on Discord, and so they're pushing the envelope, and then bringing it back into the brand. And so bringing back into the foundational pieces, and so teams like us can take that and then run with it. So it's pretty exciting.
Charli: Yeah. That's so cool. And like, obviously looking at Hydrogen, it feels so modern, I guess, is the word to use, like it's very on trend. Something that like developers are gonna see, and go, this looks cool. Can you tell me a little more about how you describe the Hydrogen brand then, and how it compares to the main Shopify brand?
Lucy: Yes, so we started off this project wanting to really, really stand out from any other framework that's out there. And so we did do like sort of a market landscape of everything that's out there, taking a look at logos, as well as websites, and for the most part, they feel similar. And so we really wanted to stand out. We wanted it to be different. I think one of the first things that we came up with internally was like, what is the brand personality? And so we attributed it to Lisa Simpson. So she's very opinionated, very smart, very modest. And she's part of the family, but she sticks out, and she holds her ground and she's funny. And yeah, so that was Hydrogen for us. And we kind of wanted to do the retro sort of Internet and like pull in the nostalgia and the fun, but not necessarily the clunkiness or the slowness or whatever the negative of the early Internet. We wanted to bring back the creativity, the ASCII art, the being creative in a world where you didn't have a ton of tools like graphics or whatever, and so people found creativity through ASCII art and creating these beautiful pieces with symbols and lines and dots and things like that. So that's part of the brand. The other thing is we really honed in on the creative concept and the wrapper was strong foundations, no limitations. And what that means is we have this React framework, which is super strong foundation and you build on top of it your creativity. And so the world is kind of your oyster on what you can build, and that is kind of where the logo came from. So you have this layer of this dark H foundation-
Charli: And another one on top.
Lucy: And another one on top. And that sort of hexagonal cube shape is the crystal structure of hydrogen.
Charli: Whoa, so many layers.
Lucy: There's a lot of thoughtful design decisions that were made based on the name of the product, the product itself, and what it stood for, and what we wanted it to stand for. And yeah, it came together, and some of the visuals that you see, so some of the grids, it's foundational, it's composable, it's like this building block, and these building blocks are Lego blocks that you can put together to build your storefront. And then you have your creative, crazy gradient that is just like a skin on top.
Charli: You know what, it's even more amazing. First of all, it's great hearing you talk about this and all the layers to it. And then we have to remind ourselves that this brand came together in two weeks. And so all of these layers and all this rich backstory and the whole project happening in essentially two months, just makes you more amazing. I think that's super cool.
Lucy: Yeah, one other thing, like to throw a wrench into the whole branding is that, in the back of our minds, we also had to think about how it would play and fit with Oxygen. So we have, Hydrogen the product or the framework, and then we have Oxygen, which is like the hosting for the storefronts. And so if you're on the website, you scroll down and you'll see a little area that talks about Oxygen. And so Oxygen is kind of this hosting or this support structure for Hydrogen. And so we had to kind of meld the two logos together. So yeah, that's a piece of context for the other logo, too.
Charli: When you're not working on Hydrogen, what I'm hearing, I think, is that this is kind of rare for you to start, like create a whole new brand for a whole new product from scratch, 'cause that doesn't happen super often. What about in like a regular day-to-day in non-Hydrogen times? What sort of things is your team responsible for and working on?
Lucy: We are basically responsible for 360 sort of marketing. So anything from emails to blogs, to web. We even do internal marketing, too, when it comes to teams needing a logo, for example. So the Core logo we came up with for our team. There's some swag, or we put together this swag box, so it was kind of like, yay, we're a big team now. Here's a little swag and welcome to the team. So we did a lot of the packaging. Here's one of the pins.
Lucy: Yeah, and I don't know if you see it, but there's like this desk object that we created as well. So we worked with a local manufacturer to create these physical desk objects, because when you're working in a remote world, if you have something that is, I don't know, in your background and just to be proud of, like you are part of this team, so there's stuff like that, yeah. And then the normal stuff, and then the internal stuff as well.
Charli: Is shopify.com for example, under your team? Is that what you work on?
Lucy: No, it's not. So we have a separate team, the growth team, that is responsible to build out shopify.com and maintain it. But what the difference is with our team, is that when we have product launches that are part of our pillar products or our core products, then we work with them to update and build those pages. So we, as a team, don't really own any surfaces, but we work with other teams who do to maintain, or sorry, to update and launch whatever project or product that we're launching.
Charli: And does that growth team, the designers on that, would they be designing the website, or like working with the other product teams as well? So is it sort of like they're centralized in a way, and you are the people, like the decentralized ones coming in to partner and being that bridge between.
Lucy: Yes. Yeah.
Lucy: Yeah. That's exactly it. So they work with all the other product teams and we work in the same way, and we just work together to update that surface. If we're working on, let's say a piece of the product, like we work with the social team to create assets, we work with... Yeah, it really depends on what we're launching and where we're launching it.
Charli: Yeah. Cool. So something you mentioned as well to do with Hydrogen is the CTAs and how you were testing to see which one gets people interested the most. I love the stuff. I'm a big nerd for it, big nerd for testing and like seeing what people respond to. Tell me a little bit more about how much this plays into your work and how often you do these types of testing things.
Lucy: We try to do it as much as we can. I'm gonna be honest. We don't do it as well as we should.
Charli: I feel like everybody says that. I feel that, too.
Lucy: Yeah, so with this specific project, we worked with our data and insights team. We made sure that all of the tracking was done, and we're tracking everything on Google Analytics in terms of click-throughs and traffic, and yeah, just eyeballs on the page and where they're coming from. And we do have specific campaigns out that we're tracking and so we know where people are coming from, what are the most engaged pieces? Like I said, I think we just need to get better at that. And something to note, like with a product like this, we can get folks to the page, but for them to like it and like the product like that is where our metrics stops, like that would be the product side. So if the product's great, awesome, people are gonna use it. They're gonna come back and they're gonna use it even more. And so, yeah, I think we have to recognize that marketing are accountable for certain metrics, and then product is accountable for the product metrics, basically.
Charli: Yeah, let's talk more a little bit about metrics. Is there anything in particular that, I don't know, first of all, do you work in KPIs, OKRs, quarterly sprints? Like how do you set goals with your team?
Lucy: I guess the equivalent for us, in terms of OKRs, is what we call missions. End of last year, beginning of this year, missions were announced, and those are basically our goals for the year, and they last anywhere between six to 12 months or even longer, depending on the mission. And so as a team, our core team, we have, I think, 10 missions, and they are tied to each product area. And so those product areas are based on the jobs to be done framework, so sell, deliver, engage, operate, insights, and build. These missions kind of help us rally around these large initiatives cross-functionally. And so we're all pointed in the same direction and we're working towards these missions. And so that feeds into marketing, and each of these missions, we have a dedicated marketing team that contribute to it.
Charli: Oh, cool, so it seems like these missions are really goals that the whole company can get behind, and it's a great way for teams to come together and all be, you said, pointing in the same direction.
Lucy: Exactly, and so when we think about priorities, or when we think about the work that we're going to focus on, everything needs to ladder up to these missions. And so if it doesn't, we've been given the permission to say, nope, we're not working on that. So it really just really focuses our team on the right things.
Charli: Yeah, and I'm sure that there's limits to how much you can share of exact missions, but is the mission framed in terms of like a number, like a metric you're trying to get to, or is it more of like a state of being?
Lucy: They're not metrics and numbers, but it's like, we're going to do X, Y, and Z, or we're going to build this, and I dunno, convert this to this new framework. So it's kind of like, whatever needs to be done to get this mission done or completed, the whole team rallies to doing that.
Charli: Gotcha. Yeah. And then for your team then in particular, or like you as the manager, do you have certain metrics that you're accountable for and that you track on a regular basis?
Lucy: Yeah, so for me, I guess from a team perspective, and from a project perspective, yes. We have to launch certain things. We are usually working towards launches or working towards events. So that as a team is sort of our OKRs, I guess. But from an individual perspective, we measure it on impact. And so we have things like intended outcomes that we work on, and so those last anywhere between three to six months, and intended outcomes are basically objectives for individuals, and then objectives for the team, and objectives for Shopify as a whole. And so what are these objectives, and what are the goals that ladder up to these objectives? And so it could be like, I want to improve on my leadership. And so what are those goals that are SMART goals that you can just kind of say, okay, I'm gonna do X, Y, and Z. I'm gonna take this course, this conference. And so they're measurable and timely and all that stuff. And so we can check those things off , and that's how we measure from an individual perspective.
Charli: Yeah. That makes sense. And when a project like Hydrogen launches, is there metrics that you've set around like usage in the first week, traffic, clicks, things like that, that everyone on the team is looking at together?
Lucy: Yeah, so that is usually defined in our go-to-market plan. And so we do have metrics that we're constantly just referencing, and we have been tracking that stuff, and we actually just did a summary and announcement of like what has happened. And so that's something that we obviously we also wanna get better at. The growth team has their own data and insight folks, but we don't. And so we're hoping that like, we've been utilizing their team, but we're hoping that we can one day have our own.
Charli: Yeah, one day, in the future, yeah. So this is a lot of work that you do, obviously. How are projects managed for you and your team? Like who is deciding what gets worked on when, and who's working on what, and what tools you're using for this? I know it's like boring to talk about this stuff, but like, it's actually not, it's actually really interesting because everyone has their own way of doing it.
Lucy: So on our production team, we have what we call UX producers, and those are the folks that keep us in line. And so when you think about UX producers, they're like a mix of project managers, scrum masters and product ops. And so they help us manage the project, schedule meetings, timelines, manage stakeholders, manage any of the feedback that we have. And they really help us run things smoothly. I mean, without them, this project wouldn't have gone as smoothly, and it wouldn't have been two months or so. When a project comes in, we usually, as a leads team, come together and prioritize. And so they're usually prioritized in tiers, and so there's tier one, two and three, so that's the priority, but that's also based on the mission itself, and when the product team is launching something, or if we have an event that we have to announce something. So we work really closely with the product team to understand their roadmap and it trickles down to ours.
Charli: Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Something that you've already talked about a bit, at the beginning, we were talking about the challenges that come with decentralized, and how it's like you solved some things, but then obviously new challenge has been introduced. What other are main obstacles faced by your team at the moment that you're working on solving and fixing for?
Lucy: Yeah, so I think I did mention at the beginning, our team supports over 1,700 Shopifolks on the core team, and so we are a team of 17 working towards like 10 missions. And so when you think about our team, it sounds big, but it's not compared to all of the products that we have to support. So that has been a little bit difficult because we want to say yes to everything and help, but we don't, like we can't do everything all at once and together. And so, yeah, we're building out our team, but also making sure that we have enough work to keep everybody engaged and happy and all that stuff. So it's a fine balance, especially for me as manager, trying to figure that out. And the other thing is that we don't own any surfaces and we don't maintain any of the internal products. And so when we have to launch, we need to reach out to those teams and understand their tech stack or how it's built. And so there's sort of a learning curve there, too, and context that we have to sort of attain. And so yeah, having that knowledge and that context is super, super important, and so our team is, we have to build that. We have to build that context up, sometimes every time, or if we've worked on a project already, we already have that context, and so it's easier to update and build again.
Charli: And also like getting the time with the other teams that you need help for as well, and like getting that fitting in.
Lucy: And their roadmaps, too. Like if they don't have the time, then we're kind of like, we have to juggle that. So that's why our UX producers are awesome.
Charli: Yes, yes, I am very jealous. We don't have anyone in that role at ConvertKit, and I would really like someone to be. Let's end by talking about something that you're most proud of from your time working at Shopify.
Lucy: I'm going to say, well, two things. Hydrogen obviously, 'cause it's fresh.
Charli: And very cool.
Lucy: Excited, and yeah, I love it. I love how the team came together. I love how it's a good example of product, marketing and PMMs working together to push something out that we're proud of, and that we stand behind the design, and we really saw it through, like what it means. So I'm really proud of the work that the team has done. What I'm personally proud of is building out this team. Like we started out with two designers and myself, and so we've doubled sort of in the last year. And yeah, I want to build sort of an environment where there's trust and there's a safe feeling of like, I can critique this work without feeling like, I'm, I don't know, being negative or whatever. It comes from a good place. And so if we can build up that confidence to be able to give that feedback, then it's just gonna make our work so much better. And so I'm proud of, I don't know, this sort of tight knit family that we've built out that can work together, collaborate together, and build cool stuff.
Charli: I love that. Well, thanks so much for everything you've shared, Lucy. This has been super fascinating.
Lucy: Thank you. It's been great.
Charli: I hope you enjoyed that episode, everyone. I especially love the way that Lucy talks about the fact that even as large a company as they are, Shopify is still figuring themselves out as a brand. And that means that Lucy and her team have the ability to explore and push the design direction of their work. I've been loving doing this recently at work myself when working on ConvertKit sub-brands, like Creator Sessions, and Craft and Commerce, which is our annual conference. And fun fact, I built both of those sites in Webflow. I think it's really important as an in-house designer to get to be able to be creative like this every now and then. And just like, I don't know, use a different color palette for once. And obviously, the team at Shopify got to do this with Hydrogen, so it was great to hear from Lucy about that. As always, I would love to hear your takeaways from this episode. Please feel free to tweet me or tag me on Instagram with them. I'm @charliprangley on both. I also really appreciate if you would leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and you can check out more episodes of the show at insidemarketingdesign.co. Thank you again to Webflow for sponsoring this season. Thank you again to you for listening, and I will see you in the next episode. Bye.
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