mixxer

Interactive Content Director, May 2006 - December 2007

Role

I was contacted by a friend with an interesting proposal. He was part of an investment group that had just acquired a very young ringtone company with a loyal following as well as a tiny radio streaming site similar to early Last.fm. Their original aim was to combine technologies and build a new web-to-mobile destination site for music, content and community (which later became less music-centric and morph'ed into a social-mobile blogging platform). Michael wanted me to help lead the UX design portion of the effort -- which promised to be huge -- as well as build out the company through recruitment & hiring and by putting more mature processes in place. He also recognized the challenge of combining three very different office cultures and was hopeful I could help.

Interactive Content Director was a made up title. Basically my role was to collaborate with another UX designer, the marketing analytics person, and the senior engineer to brainstorm new features and rapidly design and iterate on them. I also took part in the studio leadership group strategizing the overall design of the product and making adjustments as new data flowed in.

Mixxer was a very data-driven studio and as a result many of our designs started in response to the metrics we were getting almost daily. It's at this point I started expressing information graphically to illustrate trends we were finding.

note: mixxer rebranded to 3Guppies in 2007, then closed down later that year. We had been designing Tumblr but Tumblr beat us to it.

Take-Aways

This was my introduction to some of the core concepts of what I'd later learn was Agile Development. We worked fast to prove a core concept, then got it out in front of users and watched how they responded. We would then iterate and try to improve the concept based on feedback we noticed. By not being overly precious or overly complicating things, and by releasing and updating often and at a regular cadence, we trained our users to expect constant change with the benefit of constant improvement. We spent less time documenting our work in order to spend more time collaborating and building actual software.