MailChimp UX Team: Collaboration [Part 2 of the book]

Original author: June Lee, Fernando Godina, Gregg Bernstein
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[ TL; DR ]

[ 1st part of the book ]
[ 3rd part of the book ]
[ 4th part of the book ]
[ 5th part of the book ]
[ 6th part of the book ]
[ 7th part of the book ]
[ 8- I am part of the book ]

All hands on deck!


June Li

Many cultures include a rite of passage when elders greet newcomers. Such ceremonies are usually filled with a spirit of camaraderie and devotion to common goals. For many MailChimp employees, including myself, the rite of passage was to work in a technical support team.

The employees of this division of the company are trained together, work closely with mentors and together solve many problems and tasks.
With 7 million users and thousands of new arrivals daily, it is necessary to constantly increase the number of employees in the technical support team. We took advantage of this not only in terms of directly improving the quality of customer service, but also for training employees in other divisions of the company.

For example, if we need someone in the UX team, we start looking for a candidate among the guys working in the technical support team. Similarly, this path led me to the position of design researcher.

At some point, we noticed an increase in the number of customers who turned to technical support for advice, which made us worried. Considering that at that time a whole group of newcomers was joining the technical support team, we decided to hold a general meeting. All employees of this team, including those who moved to work in other departments of the company, were invited to work together with customer requests.

An ordinary working day essentially turned into a meeting of a large family, united with one goal.

As the company grows, it is very important for us to maintain the values ​​that were laid down in the activities of the MailChimp team at the very beginning of its path. We understand the importance of investing in the social aspect of our work - regular joint lunches and communication after work, playing table tennis, billiards and just chatting over a cup of coffee.

All these are components of the identity of our company, but general meetings are especially energizing. On this day, we managed to get rid of all the calls, and the track You're The Best Around sounded throughout the office. Few things can bring people together so well as working together and achieving a common goal.



Seeking help from colleagues


Fernando Godina

The MailChimp team has a wide variety of professionals from all over the world. Someone got a degree, and someone self-taught. We are biologists, advertising specialists, rhetoric experts, industrial designers, artists and poets. Our team speaks a dozen different languages, and we are very different people, but it is in these differences that our strength lies, which manifests itself in working together. We also have something in common - we love to carefully analyze problems and solve several issues at once.

I understood all this from the very beginning of my work, but I became convinced of these conclusions in practice. Our UX team worked on three different projects, the deadlines for which were fast approaching. Researchers conducted several parallel surveys at once, requiring the distribution of thousands of messages to customers. Designers and developers made up one of the latest releases of our UX mailing list, and researchers helped them. We worked at full strength, but obviously could not cope with everything on our own. There was only one way to complete all the work on time - to seek help from our colleagues.

Pass the baton

Working on a study involving clients using our Mandrill email delivery service, together with Larissa Wolfram-Gvas we were looking for a way to implementmerge tags in the body of our profile. They were required to broadcast MailChimp customer data in the format of a SurveyMonkey survey service. Faced with difficulties in the process of solving this problem, we turned for help to colleagues from a team of researchers who, in a rather short time, helped us to set up the transfer of metadata.

In the process of launching the newsletter to thousands of our customers, we noticed some inaccuracies in the code, once again attracted colleagues, but in the end we had to turn to Fabio Carneiro , a developer who specializes in working with letter templates. The task, which took an hour of our time, was solved by Fabio in just a couple of minutes.

We did not waste time solving a problem that was outside the scope of our competence, but simply turned to one of the specialists, which ultimately significantly reduced the time it took to solve the problem.

In the meantime, part of the UX team was working on the next release of our UX mailing list , which had to be edited and put in proper form. This task was successfully completed by our researcher and designer, although in the end they missed one minor typo.
Understanding the level of expertise and the specialization of our colleagues, we can count on a smoother flow of work processes, intercepting each other's tasks. Of course, this greatly facilitates the work and makes it more pleasant.

Do not close from others

That day we worked on three parallel projects, and two qualities helped us a lot in this: openness to communication and mutual assistance. If someone had problems, they wrote to other team members using a messenger, or simply approached them with one or another question, and immediately the process of searching for possible solutions began. Each such appeal was perceived with a sincere desire to understand the problem and help a colleague.

Even if someone was very busy at the time the question came from another employee, he took a minute to report that his detailed answer would have to wait a while, or simply passed the question to a less busy colleague. Regardless of the complexity of the situation, we never got stuck on solving problems - work on projects moved forward.

Each of the UX-teams specializes in a certain subject, but also does not close from the others. This approach is adopted throughout the company, it allows us to solve a variety of problems, using the strength of our team. If it comes to improving MailChimp, we feel free to ask for help.



Conscientious work


Gregg Bernstein

Lawyer, content specialist, developer, designer and researcher walk into the hall ... Well, this is not one of those not very successful jokes, but just a story about how we tried to make the description of the conditions for using MailChimp services clearer .

Legal information is usually prepared in order to protect the interests of clients and minimize risks, and not at all for the convenience of using services. Of course, this situation is changing now, but changes in the terms of use of some services are provoking an angry reaction of users, and companies are devoting more and more time to bring this documentation to a user - friendly form.

MailChimp team is sensitive to all the materials available for viewing by our customers. In 2013, Kate Kiefer Lee , our content specialist, and Valerie Warner Danin , our lawyer, decided it was time to reconsider the terms of use for MailChimp services. According to this initiative, our UX team, legal service and marketing department set about developing templates for legal documentation of all our businesses, including TinyLetter and Mandrill.

Each of us has brought something of our own to this work. I relied on simplicity based on my experience in the UX area, Valerie made sure that the interests of the company were taken into account, and Kate focused on our presentation stylematerial. Together we came to the following set of recommendations.

Do not complicate.

Editing the terms of use of our services, we thought about how to set them out in a language that is understandable to an ordinary person, because it is for him that they are intended. Of course, we could not completely get rid of special terminology - such words as “warrant and represent”, but Katie and Valerie excluded from our documentation all “established orders” and “therefore”.

In addition to achieving a certain level of simplicity, we needed to get away from the humorous presentation of material, which we often resort to when working on other sections of MailChimp. Terms of use - this is a serious thing, and here you need to be able to look at the results of your work through the eyes of a client who wants to get acquainted with the official documentation, and not just laugh at another joke of our colleagues.

Put on legibility

Trying to move away from legal jargon, we refused to write any phrases or sentences in capital letters. Such a text usually gives the impression that you are screaming out this information, and we would not want to get such an effect from our legal documentation. Instead of capital letters, we used bold.

In addition, we increased the font size, indentation between paragraphs and actively used bulleted and numbered lists. There is nothing super-scientific about it - just a neat design.



Structure your content

Intuitive grouping and layout based on hierarchy will help the reader quickly find relevant sections without having to search the entire body of the document. There is nothing special at first glance, but such a solution helps to solve user problems, for example, to understand who owns the rights to the content created in the process of using the services.

As a result, we segmented sections of our documentation, determined taking into account which legal information our clients access most often, and the use of which services (for example, API) they [sections] cover.

We have developed the so-called “legal landing page”, which contains all these sections in an understandable way.

Ask your colleagues for help

. Having simplified the approach to presenting the material and making it more legible, we identified sections that might still not have been very intelligible to our clients. For them, we have provided additional comments opposite each of the points. Their goal is not just sammari, but the formation of a context with relevant examples. We used a similar approach in another project -  Email Genome Project .

Having dealt with the recommendations for the design of materials, we hired our art director David Sizemora and font-end developer Stephen Sloan . David prepared the design and icons, and Stephen figured out options for designing tips.

Of course, a relatively small number of our customers view the MailChimp terms of use page, but this does not mean that it does not deserve an attentive and accurate attitude to itself. As a result, through collaboration, we were able to bring an absolutely unreadable text into an organized and easy-to-understand form.

[ Translation of Part 3 of The UX Reader]

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