There have been a good amount of sites/pages I’ve had the opportunity to work on. My work as the Manager of a Front End Development team allowed me to inject creative ideas into high level meetings as well as empower my team to push creative ideas when working with other teams.
This one isn’t a typical project but dealt with a unique issue to the company. It was an MLM where we had a marketing site and shopping site. The marketing content was built to be cool and flashy, but they couldn’t talk to the shopping site’s cart. Now since it’s an MLM linking back to a consultant’s store is key.
Enter the ShareAPI, through JS we were able to get cookies from the consultant browser, Link to marketing pages with the consultant info in the query string, then when a prospect of the consultant clicked the link it would cause the browser to link all shopping links to the consultants site.
Through all of that you may say why not just create better shopping pages? We had severe limitation with our shopping platform and marketing wasn’t happy with the limitations, so we built a second set of pages to empower them to make effective marketing material
Again this was created from my time at an MLM, one thing our consultants did was drop off these catalogues that had all the products in them. It was a nice leave behind but each one cost consultants something like $2 a catalogue. And in that business, you would want to give as many leave behinds as possible. Well that cost would add up and wasn’t very green, the company very much advertised how green they were. So I had an idea to make the catalogue into an epub.
For those unaware epub is the file format for a digital book (think book apps). This offered some really cool features that couldn’t be done in a print book cheaply.
- We could add links to the shopping pages
- We could customize the book with consultant info / their store links
- (never realized but had a plan) remove sections if you didn’t like the product line
I worked with the Print team manager to get the files and have him add a few extra elements for an epub document. Once I had a working example I setup a meeting with the Chief of Field Development to embrace the project and sponsor it, any major project needed an executive sponsor at this company.
I then brought in the rest of my team to help add links and setup a web version to make it viewable in a browser. We used an open source project that we modified to make it change out links based on user cookies. Books were generated using Node.js
Working with our DevOps team we setup a server for the Digital Catalogue using AWS Lambda to run the Node.js code. We also setup the billing to be tagged so we could track costs to this specific feature and compare it to sales in google analytics.
Once it went live it took a bit of communication with the field to get them to start using it. 3 months in it was costing us ~$1000 a month but generating $980,000 a month in sales, use using last click attribution. Not a bad payoff for the cost.
Unfortunately, this project died due to office politics after I left the company. There was a director who wanted to switch it to Flipping book, basically a glorified PDF, which lacked a lot of the features we had built into the epub viewer. Since consultants wouldn’t get links to their shopping links, they stopped sharing it and it has since died as far as I can tell.
This is honestly my favorite project as a manager because I had very little to do with the actual writing of the code but everything with empowering people to do what leaders didn’t know they could do.
For background at this time the company was going through a phase of offloading major projects to 3rd parties. It was killing the development team to see the fun/important projects go to outside vendors at crazy price tags, we’re talking tens of millions and in my opinion subpar results.
Well one of my team members had been working on an app to allow consultants to take a base image and customize it with on brand gifs and fonts. I got him in front of c-level IT leadership and eventually we get told to take it to the C-level of Customer Experience. He takes this concept, which was pretty much done at this point and we just needed a UI skin, and outsources it to another vendor. This completely kills my team members morale. I tell him to keep working on it and I will find some options. Talking with the C-level of IT we weren’t able to take it back at that time.
Thankfully the company had monthly breakfast with the CEO. I signed up to attend and let the CEO know where morale was. With all the projects moving to outsourcing no one wanted to be there since it was all upkeep work and that we would come up with good ideas only to see them go to other companies and hear about the large bill to create something we already had a Proof of Concept created.
Thankfully he understood that we would lose a lot of talent, at this point the company had lost a lot already and brought the project in house. With the launch of the app, it enabled the consultants to create on brand content while also making our team feel valued. You can check this out at the marketing site for the App. It’s now called Content Kit but for me it will always be the Digital Toolkit since that was the Proof of Concept name. I think some of the APIs still reference it as DTK.