Lessons learned while creating a company blog
Today is a big day: we finally joined the ranks of the millions of companies that have a branded blog.
If you're wondering what took us so long, the short answer is we wanted to do it right. We've also been working behind the scenes to devise a structured approach to content creation, ensuring that what we publish serves our clients—businesses that need software development support and the top-tier people they hire. And in that spirit, we're excited to share what we learned during the blog development process. Our design and product and development teams worked closely together for five months, and along the way, they learned lessons about process, communication, and what tools make everyone's lives easier. We chatted with Roger from our development team and Micaela from our design team to get their take on the project.
Insight: Make roles and responsibilities clear at the outset.
Micaela: I'm used to working with the product and design team, but as more people joined the project, including programmers, developers, and the content team, it became clear that more structure was in order. The beginning of the blog development was a little complex to navigate because we were learning how to organize ourselves and establish who was responsible for specific tasks. I'm conscientious about checking in with our project manager before starting any project. I want to make sure we're on the same page, and I'm not repeating a task someone else is doing or stepping on a team member's feet.
It's essential to align with the team, create clear expectations at each step, and maintain honest communication from the outset. Everything that is not said or put to the side will become a complication that you must resolve later.
Roger: In the beginning, we tried to build the blog with a team of people who only had a few hours a week to dedicate to the project. It quickly became apparent that that approach wasn't efficient, so we created a dedicated blog team, making it easier to prioritize tasks and meet project milestones. This structure was beneficial since we developed the blog from scratch using a serverless architecture platform (Contentful) rather than a traditional CMS. This way, we could focus on the frontend development and consume the API to fetch and display data from the platform.
Insight: Create regular opportunities to address small issues before they become big roadblocks.
Micaela: We had weekly meetings every Friday with the programmers and developers to track our progress and resolve issues. This cadence helped make the overall blog development process more fluid. In addition, every Wednesday, I have design reviews with the product and design team, where we check in on the progress of all the projects in our pipeline and give each other feedback. These meetings helped me learn how to continue to enhance visual assets.
One of the hardest things about this project was learning to speak the same language as the developers and programmers. I quickly realized it's important to admit when you don't know something and be open to learning. Our Friday meetings were where we learned from each other and how to communicate better.
Roger: Our weekly call with the design team was crucial. This meeting gave us all a chance to suggest changes, share feedback, and resolve issues in real-time. For instance, maybe something in the design didn't pass our UX/UI evaluation, or we needed to address broken code issues; this meeting was a chance for all of us to weigh in and get on the same page.
Insight:Prioritize tools and software that make collaboration easy.
Roger: From a project management perspective, both the development and design teams use a JIRA project board to keep track of tasks; we review our board every Friday to see if we are on track or need to adjust our priorities. Our development team also uses JIRA and Bitbucket to manage our tasks and the changes in the code. Each team member takes a task or "branch" to work on (without altering the main codebase or breaking anything) and then sends the branch into our remote repository so that the rest of the team can review it. We also have daily check-ins to see progress or make changes on branches.
For this project, we also used a new framework in the code for styling—Tailwind CSS. I think it's the best framework I've worked with; it's easy to use, and other frameworks often have a lot of code we don't need. Tailwind CSS is much cleaner. We're also using the React framework to build the interactive UI interface.
Micaela: Figma was our design platform; that was where we kept track of all our different prototypes and the changes we made and dated all our visual boards to reference them easily. Figma is great because it can generate small, medium, and large-scale prototypes. Different teams can leave their comments and recommendations on prototypes, making it easy to synthesize any feedback.
Insight: Don’t underestimate the complexity of blog development; you don’t have to release everything at once.
Roger: Even though we launched the blog, there are still some features we haven't released yet because they are not part of the core blog functions, so we have time to test and adjust. When you start with the blog development plan, clarify what features and functionality are essential and what ones you can hold off on releasing. This approach helps you prioritize your focus and can also yield insights into what is a "must" and "nice to have."
Micaela: I learned a lot about the organization of projects, including the importance of having a clear objective putting together a roadmap to guide the entire process. There's also lots of research to be done to understand your user and how they will interact with the blog. It can seem like a lot, but including all these steps helps you create the best possible outcome and ensures that all team members are aligned.