SD From Your Home Office: An Intern Experience

Over the past few months, COVID-19 has upended the daily lives of people all around the world. While disinfecting our hands and wearing face masks have gradually become a part of everyone’s daily routine, the movement of employees out of offices and into their homes has created a completely new work environment.

Most employees began working at home in March, giving companies a few months to decide if their summer internship programs were going to run. Many college students found themselves unemployed when companies decided to suspend seasonal programs due to the difficulty of working online. Thankfully, Something Digital was able to make a seamless transition to virtual work with the help of technologies such as Microsoft Teams and GoToMeeting.

My name is Josie Steinberg and I am this summer’s Digital Strategy Intern. I am a rising sophomore at Tufts University, and I am majoring in quantitative economics and minoring in fine arts. When I started at SD in the middle of June, I was worried about getting to know my coworkers and learning how to make a difference virtually. During my first week, my schedule was booked with orientation meetings with the many different teams: Development, Digital Marketing, Project Management and more. SD did a very effective job of teaching me their values, structure, and goals all through my computer screen.

While the SD employees are all intelligent, well-rounded, individuals with industry expertise, what makes the organization really special is the daily use of teamwork. This global pandemic has created a nationwide trial run for how collaboration, engagement, and productivity are going to persist without time spent in-person. Given these circumstances, SD has not lowered the bar. Instead, they have created a captivating online community that gives everyone the opportunity for the regular exchange of ideas. I constantly learn new skills in my morning meetings with my supervisors. From discovering how to navigate Google Analytics in my first week, compiling reports in GROW, creating QBR decks, and researching 2020 eCommerce trends, I quickly became well-versed in a whole world of work that was initially foreign to me. My supervisors are always available to chat via Teams, which is an integral part of making new hires feel comfortable, welcome, and productive while at home.

Social interactions influence physical and mental health. I thought that creating substitutes for time spent in-person was going to be difficult, but SD showed everyone that forming an online community was easier than originally anticipated. The outstanding SD human resources team organized weekly games, special activities, and even yoga sessions to get people talking and smiling throughout the week.

My virtual internship at SD has been a positive learning experience thanks to all the amazing people that work there and the online community they created. Working from home comes with expected challenges such as getting distracted, but with the right leadership, online work can be just as engaging and efficient as work in a shared physical office. COVID-19 is presenting people all over the world with new work-life challenges. SD embraced this challenge and created something wonderful: an online hardworking community, ready to grow and welcome new employees. I feel so lucky to have learned and worked alongside everyone at SD this summer!

Gratitude in Quarantine

This pandemic has given me what I have been pleading for these last 20 years – time. Time to reflect on the basics we have grown accustomed to. The things we take for granted because they have been at our fingertips for so long that we barely realize their existence.  My focus for as long as I can remember has been on what I WANT.  You know the story, if I just had that new outfit, that boat, that vacation home, then I would feel complete.

What I NEED used to come easily.  Food for example, I could get inspired by a Food Network show and hop in my reliable vehicle, run up to the grocery store for those ingredients and whip me up a new meal.  I now find myself having to plan my meals weeks in advance because that is how long it takes for groceries to arrive. I have been getting creative with meals because ultimately “I get what I get” when it comes to my requests – a lot of the core ingredients in my standard meals are no longer an option for me due to limited supplies at grocery stores.  This, however, has opened the door to getting creative.  I have tasked my kids to find recipes with only ingredients in the house and we have ended up with some pretty good creations.  That creativity wouldn’t have been tested had we not been in this situation.

Social distancing has been a challenge especially from my sibling and parents over the holidays, but I have used technology to bridge that gap and have learned quite a few fun social apps to play games and see each other’s smiling faces despite the inability to be  physically together.  Speaking of distance, that is also something that I have been gifted.  Distance from the constant “go-go-go” mentality.  Distance from what is unimportant in the grand scheme of things in life.  As a working mom you tend to follow the crowd, working 9-5pm and spending the rest of the evening on the run. Taking the kids from one activity to the next, grabbing what you need on the go, a lot of times this includes meals which means we are not engaging in much meaningful conversation that you tend to get with sitting down at the family dinner table.

I don’t miss those things.  I have honestly become so grateful for things that I have taken for granted for so very long.  I realized I was guilty of taking things for granted years ago and was inspired by a coworker to step outside of my comfort zone and explore mission trips. I spent a week in Haiti and 5 days in Juarez experiencing life with the bare minimum.  What I expected to get from these experiences is exposure to new cultures and people but what was most impactful to me was the realization of how very little we truly need materially to be happy.  For me to see all that I have been blessed with, I had to leave my home, my family, my comforts.  For some that is extreme, for me, I now feel it’s a must.

Right now, I am sitting in my home office, looking out the window at a beautiful cherry tree in full bloom in my front yard.  I am seeing more kids and parents outside doing things as a family – biking, walking, roller blading, yardwork.  My heart is grateful daily.  I have been feeling this emotion with much more passion and on more of a regular basis than ever before and I didn’t have to leave the country let alone my own home to experience this.  I appreciate so much, but most importantly relationships.  Not just with my immediate friends and family but I have a newfound perspective on my peers and clients.  We have expanded our relationships beyond work, become more empathetic to each other and have banded together to support each other in ways we previously wouldn’t have made time for.  I have seen clients use this crisis as an opportunity to help others using the resources they have; I have truly been inspired by the inherent desire to help others in need.  I have also formed loyalties to brands that have strategically changed their focus to support the underdogs.

I have been “gifted” this time to reflect on all the good that has been in front of me this whole time, but I have been too busy to absorb/appreciate it.  My house is the cleanest and most organized it’s been in years.  We are experiencing new foods, we are growing our own food from scraps (hydroponic gardening – it’s amazing), we are playing board games and gaining new skills right here at home.

Of course, through all of this, technology has been a constant.  No matter where I am, I still have access to the ole www.  So many ecommerce sites are thriving now that brick and mortar stores have become restricted which also makes me grateful for the fact I work in the market I do and am able to support my customers in their drive to maintain their business and help others in the process.

All in all, this pandemic for me has given me way more than it’s taken away. More empathy, more appreciation of life’s simple things, more gratefulness, more family time.  I have figuratively and literally stopped to smell the roses and they are GORGEOUS.

I am reminded that people in life matter more than the activity and I am reminded that pausing may be the most important activity I do.  I am honestly not sure if anything short of a pandemic had the power to slow down our society’s pace and we have been running at breakneck speeds for way too long.  I am grateful, I am blessed and although I am looking forward to a social gathering soon, I hope to keep the clarity I have gained and the realization of what is good in this world as there is so much of it to continue to embrace.

For some reason a poem from one of my older favorite movies comes to mind and I wanted to end with that – take from it what you will but to me, it’s about perspective.  I am choosing to focus on the good.

“These things are good: ice cream and cake, a ride on a Harley, seeing monkeys in the trees, the rain on my tongue, and the sun shining on my face. These things are a drag: dust in my hair, holes in my shoes, no money in my pocket, and the sun shining on my face.”

Finding Freedom Through Boundaries  

Due to the quarantine, all people who can work from home have been told to do so by stay-at-home orders. For many it’s the first time they’ve had to work from home for weeks on end. A lot of people like it, but others are struggling, especially if they share their homes with spouses and children who also need a place to collaborate with colleagues, teachers and classmates.

It’s easy to focus on work while in an office because, well, it’s why you get up early, shower, and commute to the office five days a week. Home is way more multidimensional, and that means distractions abound. It takes some effort to concentrate on lining up sales calls or proofreading a report when the dog is barking to be let out or dishes are piling up in the sink.

I’ve worked from home for the past five years, and I can tell you it requires some tactics and strategies to be successful at it. This blog is to share what I’ve learned, especially when it comes to setting boundaries. Of course, boundaries differ from person to person, but the need for them doesn’t.

If you find you’re unable to keep track of what day it is, or to get out of the work zone so you can be fully present with your family or roommates read on!

Formalize Your Workspace

Formalizing your work life within your home will help you avoid one of the biggest pitfalls of working from home: working all the time. Most of us have a bottomless pile of work we can do, and it’s all too easy to just keep plugging away. But you need downtime, and establishing boundaries is the best way to ensure you get it.

Start Early

Now that you no longer need to commute to the office, start your workday earlier. An earlier start time will give you space to get your job done and catch up if you fall behind for some reason. It’s no fun to miss happy hour with your roommates or dinner with the kids because you can’t finish your work until 8:00 at night. Early can mean different things to different people, but you’ll know what feels early to you.

Formalize Your Work Mindset

Everybody has a set of habits that puts them into a work mindset — wearing more formal clothes, blow drying their hair rather than pulling it back into a ponytail, cleaning up their desk at the start of the day, drinking coffee as they read industry newsletters. It’s important to keep up with those transitions so that you can psych yourself up for a productive workday. You may need to come up with some new transitions if your old ones are no longer applicable but be sure to do so because they’re important. You need some kind of demarcation between work and home life.

Another component to that is work hygiene, by which I mean, you need to create a space that you’ll use only for work while you’re in lockdown. If you don’t have a separate home office your kitchen table may seem an obvious substitute but beware. If it’s also where you plan family meals, read your favorite blogs, and strike up spontaneous conversations with your kids it’s likely to be a source of constant distractions and stress. Carve out a place in your house to serve solely as your office cubicle and make sure everyone in your household knows that when you’re there you are at work.

Another trick I use is to put physical reminders that connect me to the Something Digital headquarters in New York City. For instance, I have a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge and a map of New York hanging in my office, along with a bunch of other things that make me think of work.

Finally, be wary of making yourself too comfortable now that you’re no longer in the office. That includes changing fully out of your PJ’s before you hop onto your Zoom meetings. Formal from the waist up doesn’t cut it, and not just because you may embarrass yourself in front of your colleagues. Clothes help us define the roles we need to play at any given moment.

Personally, I’ve always put on work attire during office hours and change out of them at the end of the workday. You don’t need to go to that length if you don’t want to, but some kind of clothing adjustment will help you mark the difference between work hours and home life.

Create the Right Auditory Environment

Don’t overlook the auditory environment of your home office. I know a lot of people who keep the TV or radio on whenever they’re at home, but what works as white noise while you’re cooking dinner or dusting the living room will be a distraction when building a spreadsheet. Be sure to create in your home the auditory environment — silence or music — that helps you concentrate while you’re doing your office work.

Take Smart, Regular Breaks

Don’t be afraid to take breaks daily — they’re good for you and they help you concentrate. But be smart about it. A break isn’t picking up your iPhone to see what’s happening on Twitter (that’s a distraction). A break is pouring yourself a cup of coffee and sipping it somewhere other than your workspace. For me, a break means throwing a ball for our dogs or jumping on the rowing machine for five minutes. Don’t worry about setting a specific time in the day for your breaks. Breaks work best when they’re between different tasks or projects and you want a mental reset.

Don’t Overdo it with Multitasking

If you’re working from home for the first time you may feel the need to multitask more than you normally do but resist that temptation. We all need uninterrupted time to concentrate on a project or complex task. In an office, we can signal to our colleagues that we don’t want to be disturbed simply by closing our office doors. We don’t have the luxury of those visual clues at home, so we need other strategies. It’s okay to turn off your email notifications, put your mobile device in another room, or set your Slack to Do Not Disturb in order to carve out time to concentrate.

And speaking of doing more than one thing at a time: don’t keep snacks at your desk. In the office you’d never open a family-size bag of chips and chow down on them out of fear of becoming the brunt of office jokes. Don’t do it at home either because it’s all too easy to eat the entire bag when you’re in the zone.

Invest in Yourself

As I said earlier, you probably have an unlimited amount of work to do, and it’s very easy to fall into the trap of working all the time. One way to counteract that tendency is to set some goals that are outside the scope of your job, whether that’s tackling a home project you’ve been meaning to do for years or preparing healthier meals for you and your family.

We all have books we’ve been meaning to read or online classes we’ve wanted to take to advance our careers. Now is the perfect time to cross a few of those things off your list. Working towards a goal or two is a great way to invest in yourself, and to remind you that there is more to life than your job.

The other benefit of setting goals is that when you work from home, it’s really easy to divide your day between work and veg. And while vegging is absolutely a fine way to spend one’s time, it’s very easy to overdo it. Working towards a goal will prevent the guilt we all feel when we waste too much time or squander opportunities. And it will make those times when we do allow ourselves to veg feel all the more pleasurable.

Invest in Others

You may be working from home, but you’re not on an island. You need to find a way to continue telling those jokes or stories to your work buddies and eating lunch with your teammates.

In an office it’s very easy to invest in your colleagues. You can walk over to her desk to help troubleshoot a line of code or ask the three people in the breakroom which design they like better. And they, in turn, will stop by your desk when they want your opinion.

Continuing those investments from a home office requires you to be a lot more intentional about it. You need to actively say, “hey, I think Brad would really like this quote from this article, and I’ll share it with him now.” It also means being generous with your acknowledgments when a colleague helps you out and being transparent about what’s on your mind.

Fortunately, technology makes those investments really easy. You can post articles, videos and memes to a Slack channel, or schedule a Zoom lunch. (I know a group of friends who had a dinner party by cooking the same recipe and then jumping on Zoom to eat it together.)

To be sure, technology allows us to do our basic jobs from home, but it also allows us to recreate those vital connections that make us feel human. Don’t worry about being annoying (it’s up to your colleagues to decide when to read your stuff).

I think we err on the side of not reaching out via technology because it feels like an interruption, but you should trust that your colleagues have developed ways to tune stuff out when they need to concentrate. When they do get the time to read the articles or watch the videos you sent, they’ll be glad you took the time to think of them.

Enjoy Yourself

This may seem a bit odd given the current situation but now is the time to nurture joy. The quarantine has given us something we’ve always wished we had: ample time so spend with our loved ones. Enjoy the time you have to be at home because we may not have the opportunity to spend this much time with them again. We should celebrate it.

In my mind, John Krasinski personifies this spirit. A few weeks ago he decided to host a nationwide prom night for all the seniors who’d miss out on this rite of passage as a result of our need to practice social distancing. I got a lump in my throat watching how entire families put on their finest threads and listened to Chance the Rapper and a host of other A-listers perform live at these home-based proms. We see these acts of generosity and creativity all over the world, and they’re unbelievably moving.

Be a part of it. If your roommate can’t go home to see his family, find out from his mom what his favorite meal is and cook it for him. Join the millions of people who step outside their doors to applaud the first responders and healthcare workers on the frontline of the fight against the disease. These are extraordinary times, and people are responding in extraordinary ways. Dive headfirst into that joy. Do you have other tips and tricks that you use when working from home? Share them with us!

The State of The Customer Experience: Digital Panel

Everyone makes assumptions about what customers expect when they interact with a brand but how can we separate fact from opinion?

To answer that question, our partner Nosto surveyed 1,100 consumers to learn exactly what makes an ideal customer experience for them. Some of the insights are predictable, others are anything but. Now that we have an idea as to what consumers expect from an experience with a brand, the next task at hand is to find ways to deliver on those expectations.

To that end, Phillip Jackson, Chief Commerce Office at Something Digital, hosted the experts in a webinar to analyze the results that Nosto collected so that you can carve out an action plan. That webinar, The State of the Customer Experience, is available free and on demand. This blog post highlights just some of the insights revealed in the 45-minute webinar.

First, let’s meet our panelists.

In the upper righthand corner is Jan Soerensen, General Manager North America for Nosto, a standalone personalization platform that lets marketers personalize all of their brand’s touchpoints to the customer. To his right is Jake Cohen, Director of Product Marketing, Klaviyo, a marketing platform that helps ecommerce teams create, nurture and grow relationships with customers and prospects. Below Jake is Phillip Jackson who hosted the panel discussion, and to Phillip’s left is Olivia McNaughten, Product Marketing Manager, Yotpo. The Yotpo platform offers a full suite of solutions for customer reviews, visual marketing, loyalty programs, and referrals.

Phillip: One of the things we heard in the survey was that consumers expect omni-channel access to goods, although 53% said they interact with a brand most often on websites. What do you make of those finding Jake?

Jake: On the one hand if you’re a digital brand, 100% of your customers interact with you on your website because that is how they must buy from you. The purpose of the other channels is to nurture the relationship by sending information, community reviews, first-access to new products, and other things that are of real value to customers and prospects. Just take care to send information via channels your customers and prospects have opted into.

Phillip: Jan, 57% of consumers said they found a seamless experience across multiple channels, which is a bit surprising because within the industry, we see seamlessness across all touch points as a challenge. Why is that?

Jan: It’s a result of personalization. Personalization allows brands to meet their customer’s expectations, which in turn deliver better, more consistent experiences. There are many ways to approach personalization, one is based on maturity of the customer relationship. Early in the relationship marketers may want to go with a dual tap approach, starting with a pop-up with an offer and perhaps an exit-intend. Obviously, the site should cookie the users so they don’t become dependent on discounts.

Phillip: Changing topics a bit, do you recommend limiting discounts?

Jan: Discounting and couponing should be a stand alone discipline. A brand’s goal should be to minimize it as much as possible, which they can do by creating segments of people who don’t need a discount to purchase or repurchase. It’s a good idea to reduce the number of unnecessary discounts, and there are marketing tools that can automate that decisioning by identifying and segmenting which consumers have a strong affinity to a brand and suppressing those offers.

Phillip: When the survey respondents were asked what helps them make a purchase, 76% said reviews, followed by discounts, photos, word of mouth and loyalty points. Olivia, why do reviews trump discounts?

Olivia: Consumers are swayed by social proof. Our research has shown that 77% of shoppers actually prefer customer photos over professionally taken pictures. To that point, 98% of customers seek reviews when making a purchase decision because it helps them feel more confident that their decision is the right one for them.

Phillip: Can user generated content (UGC) be featured outside of the dotcom site to promote repeat purchase or retention?

Jake: Absolutely, and to find proof just consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which says that for people to feel truly safe and comfortable they need a few things. First is food, shelter and water, the second is belonging. People want to feel they’re not alone, and they’ll go to extremes to do that. I also recommend Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence. He termed the coin “social proof” in that book.

If you can capture [user generated] content from people in the tribe who are connected to your brand and disperse it to others who are not, you can demonstrate social proof and invite them to belong. The next question is mechanical: how do we do that? We’ve mapped that out.

[Editor’s note, Jake describes that map in detail in the webinar]

Phillip: Let’s talk about the home page, 58% of consumers say content on the home page is relevant to them. Is that because we’re doing a great job at crafting more personalized experiences, Jan?

Jan: We’re a lot better but we still have a long way to go. By way of example, let’s compare it to email. Marketers are really good at creating email series — welcome series, customer lifetime value series, category affinity and so on. There are so many campaigns we run offsite that we can and should run them onsite as well. The direct-to-consumer brands are good at this. When a new customer arrives on a site it shows branding and social proof. As customers progress in their relationship, the home page emphasizes loyalty. Even if your brand doesn’t have a bunch of products or personas, you can do a lot around life cycle and life time value.

Olivia: People take many routes to reach your homepage; it’s not linear. One of the most important things brands can do  towards providing a consistent experience is to implement social proof in every touch point. Once they enter your website the trust is already there, so your homepage can focus on your brand. The best thing you can do there is showcase your brand through your community.

Phillip: Thanks to our panelists for all of their insight. This post covers just a small fraction of what they’ve shared. I highly recommend watching the free webinar at your convenience for:

  • A deep-dive into the current state of customer experience based on survey results
  • Expert opinions on why certain customer experience trends are meeting consumer demands
  • Actionable insights and into how ecommerce brands can optimize their customer experience strategy to meet consumer expectations.

 

Watch the full webinar here or let us know if you have any questions.

press release

Leadership Moves, Delivery Reorganization at Something Digital

This week, ecommerce agency Something Digital quietly announced a delivery team reorganization along with the ascension of four long-time team members to a newly formed C-suite. Changes were announced at the Q4 company meeting on December 5.

SD’s delivery team is moving from a traditional hierarchy to a matrix structure. All practices and associated services will remain intact, but there will be new internal formations around both functional and team-oriented leadership.

Something Digital C-Suite

Additionally, several long-time senior leaders were promoted effective immediately: Mickey Winter becomes SD’s Chief Creative Officer, Jon Tudhope becomes Chief Technology Officer, James Idoni becomes Chief Operating Officer, and Phillip Jackson becomes Chief Commerce Officer. These promotions are well earned, as SD is in the midst of 3 successive years of record growth.

“As a growing company, you can’t continue to operate with 100 people the same way you did with 50,” says Principal and Co-Founder Founder Jon Klonsky. “These colleagues—along with others being promoted—are great leaders who have helped us excel.”

Greg Steinberg, SD’s other Principal and Co-Founder explains further: “The changes represent our effort to better distribute leadership, accountability, and culture. We’re extremely excited about SD’s next decade.”

About Something Digital:
Something Digital creates human focused digital commerce experiences that evolve brands and grow businesses. We specialize in commerce, digital strategy, user experience and design. Our expertise ranges from fashion & apparel to food & beverage, accessibility, and everything in between. We are in it for the long-haul and develop long lasting client partnerships that reap unparalleled growth and success.
Learn more ›

[BRIDGE] SOMETHING A Mentorship Program Designed to Jumpstart Careers  

Bradley Brecher earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from New York University in May of 2019. Like many new grads, he was eager to stay in the Big Apple, and looked around at New York-based companies that could use his newly acquired skills, and quickly settled on Something Digital. Upon joining the SD team in mid-June, Bradley was selected to participate in SD’s Jumpstart program as well as SD’s [BRIDGE] SOMETHING mentorship program.

[BRIDGE] SOMETHING is a 6 month program that brings together newly hired, recent grads with seasoned employees to help ease the transition from school-life to SD-life through thoughtful guidance and structured support.

Bradley was paired with Phillip Jackson, SD’s Ecommerce Evangelist and Magento Master. Eager to know if the program delivered tangible benefits, Phillip sat down with Bradley for a debriefing.

Phillip Jackson: When you graduated in May, you interviewed at a lot of companies, including some big names in this business. Why did you choose SD out of all the opportunities?

Bradley Brecher: First, Something Digital is a multi-faceted agency, so the work will always be interesting. I was also keenly interested in a smaller company, one that would allow me to have an impact from day one.

When I applied to SD, a director, an owner, and a tech lead interviewed me, and frankly, I was impressed. All three are very valuable to the company’s day-to-day operations, yet they took an hour out of their day to speak with me.

I also liked the Something Digital end product. The somethingdigital.com website is very modern-looking and 21st-century focused, as are all the sites the team builds for clients, which I looked at prior to interviewing. From a UI perspective, they’re quite beautiful and I thought: this is the level of quality I want to deliver.

PJ: You were also part of the jumpstart program which is an 8-week program focused on equipping engineers and employees with the skills and knowledge required to excel in their day-to-day responsibilities and careers. What were your thoughts coming into this program, and did it match your expectations?

BB: The Magento platform has a big learning curve, and when I first started five months ago I thought: How am I going to learn this complex platform in just eight weeks? Something Digitals’ jumpstart program spread it out, which made it easier for us. It was clear that there had been a lot of time and effort put into the planning. As a result, by the time we started working with real client sites I felt as if I had been well trained, and that made me feel confident.

PJ: What happened at the end of the eight-week training? Did you know what to expect?

BB: We were placed on teams; I was assigned to the Strategic Engagement Group, other mentees were placed on project teams. At this point, we began interacting with clients, which required new skill sets on top of the technical skills we learned.

We kind of knew what to expect, but until we started working with clients, it’s difficult to know what the environment would be like.

PJ: What were your responsibilities once you moved over to the Strategic Engagement Team? Do you feel as if you’re using the skills you studied in college or are you on new ground?

BB: One thing I really enjoy about being on the team is the real-world experience it provides. You can learn programming skills in school, but that’s just the base. The things you learn on the job can’t be taught in schools. I see this in multiple ways, from working on live projects to working on a team flow where multiple people write, review and change code simultaneously.

PJ: What was your biggest fear when graduating from college and considering a career in software development?

BB: That I’d be stuck behind a computer all day with little to no opportunity to interact with people, or work on other soft skills. But with the Strategic Engagement Team, I’m expanding my technical skills as well as learning vital communication skills, which will deliver dividends throughout my career. This is something most software developers right out of college don’t get to learn or use. I feel lucky.

PJ: What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to overcome so far, and what was easier than you thought it would be?

BB: The biggest challenge was gaining the confidence to make my own decisions when deadlines were looming and everyone was really busy. I know I’m supposed to be under a lead, but there are times when I have responsibilities and I need to make my own decisions. Or, sometimes a manager will put something into my hand and ask my opinion, and that can be tough.

The challenge I found surprisingly easy is deploying live changes to client websites and moving things to production. I thought that would be much harder than it actually is.

PJ: Has the mentorship program been valuable?

BB: Yes, incredibly so. When I was paired with you everyone in the company told me I was lucky to have such a special opportunity, even though we didn’t work in the same office. They were right, of course, as you’re a Twitter influencer, an eCommerce evangelist, and very well known in Magento. All three of these aspects have benefited me a lot, like the time I wrote a code change to Magento Core and you tweeted it out to all of your followers. Almost immediately it was reviewed. This is a direct result of working with you.

It’s been great to connect with someone who isn’t on my team, someone who isn’t on the engineering team at all. It’s great to be exposed to someone who is on a completely different side of the company.

We’ve read three books together:

  • Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence―and How You Can, Too, by Gary Vaynerchuk
  • The 5 Choices – The Path to Extraordinary Productivity, by Franklin Covey
  • Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, by Nir Eyal

 

As you know, I’ve sought your advice on management questions, technical issues, career advancement and just about anything that confounds someone who is new.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you some questions. Is that okay?

BB: You’re a busy guy; why did you agree to take the time out of your schedule to mentor me?

PJ:  This is something I talked about in a keynote address I gave earlier this year. I realized that I’ll reach a certain ceiling in my career, and while I have some notoriety in the world of eCommerce now, it certainly isn’t destined to last forever. Not everyone is destined to achieve global fame and success, after all. But ever one of us can help others pick up where we left off, if you will. I want my ceiling to be your floor, to give you the tools so that you can build up from there.

This is the open-source ethos. In the open-source world we share all of our learnings, challenges, successes, and failures so that the people who follow behind us won’t need to start from scratch. We want them to start from a higher order level of thinking or a higher platform. This is what the Something Digital mentorship program means to me.

BB: Would you have benefited from a mentor at the beginning of your career?

PJ: I’ve had many mentors throughout my career, though none of them formal like the relationship I have with you. And I didn’t have someone to show me how to avoid the pitfalls I’ve encountered in terms of time management, establishing boundaries between my work and personal life, and setting realistic expectations in what I can deliver. Some of these issues are addressed in the three books I recommended to you, but much of it has been learned through trial and error. Figuring this stuff out early in your career is beneficial, rather than waiting until you’re in your mid-thirties. I wish someone had sat down with me and armed me with tools when I was your age.

If you’d like more information about the [BRIDGE] SOMETHING mentorship program and/or Jumpstart, please contact us! Apply to SD Careers or shoot me an email at pjackson@somethingdigital.com to get started.

NYU WEST Fest – The Women of SD Offer Perspectives on Careers in Tech

For the last two years, Something Digital has partnered with New York University Tandon School of Engineering’s Women in Technology initiatives to increase access to quality learning opportunities and STEM-focused higher education for young women K-12 and incoming students at NYU. We attended the last three Girls Talk Tech events, where we spoke with inspiring young women with interests in STEM and answered panel questions.

Something Digital was invited to speak at NYU Tandon’s annual WEST Fest, where our team answered questions on a moderator-led panel and questions from students on how to prepare for a future STEM career and our perspective on working in a male-dominated tech industry. This was a huge honor for our company, and for our women-led panelists, to be a part of. Speaking to a full house of eager STEM students, mainly made up of women, was truly inspirational (please note that NYU’s Class of 2022 is made up of 43% women)!

A lack of women in STEM means a lack in perspective of half of the world’s population, which puts any thriving industry competing in today’s economy at a major disadvantage. As an interactive agency that works with ecommerce clients, diversity in our organization from top to bottom is crucial to our growth, as well as our clients’ success. A majority of our clients’ consumers are women (see: PapyrusIndustry West, among others), and having women decision makers in the room has only shown greater successes with our clients. It’s a no-brainer.

At Something Digital, we are proud to say that our team is made up of 41% women, including half of our leadership team! We continue to strive to increase that percentage and support different initiatives to educate future women in technology!

Written by: Yasemin Hizal, HR Manager

Panelist from left to right: Liv Martens, Melanie Lopez, Deanna Acerra, Lindsay Stork and NYU Moderator Cindy Lewis, Director, Undergraduate Enrollment Management

 

Getting Started: A Career in Technology
Written by: Liv Martin, Front End Developer

 

A year and a month ago I had just graduated from college, packed my student apartment into a U-Haul, and moved to New York to start my first ever full-time job as a programmer at Something Digital. There have been plenty of milestones in my career between that first day at the office and now. After trial and error (a lot of error), patient mentorship, late nights, and a few awkward presentations, I’m pleased to say I don’t bear too strong a resemblance to the developer who started at SD a year ago.

Last month I was excited to achieve another career first when I was able to speak on a panel at NYU’s WEST Fest. WEST (Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology) is the Tandon School of Engineering’s summer event for prospective students to hear about careers in tech from professional women in the field. As a relatively junior recruit, I’m still used to having more questions than answers on any given day. Speaking to the WEST Fest crowd was an exciting opportunity to recognize my own progress as a whole and to share my insights and experiences with young women on the same academic and career path that I followed. It was an unexpected joy to be able to experience a form of mentorship with these young women whose concerns and insecurities so closely matched my own not so long ago, and whose drive and accomplishments left me in awe.

I wasn’t the only employee from Something Digital to share her experiences with the WEST Fest audience. I was honored to share the panel with three of my coworkers, project managers Deanna Acerra and Melanie Lopez, and senior designer Lindsay Stork. In the interest of bringing their insight out of the panel setting and into the SD blogosphere, we have a few words of wisdom to share here about our careers in tech.

So here are my words of wisdom: don’t be afraid to ask for input! Sometimes asking for help can feel like an imposition, or even an embarrassment, but remember that everyone feels a little clueless when they start something brand new. No one springs fully formed into existence knowing every bleeding edge code concept imaginable (even though it certainly feels like it sometimes). Give yourself time to adjust, and don’t apologize for having questions.

This goes double for starting a career right out of school when you’re not only establishing your place at work but also building the foundation for your post-college life. Seek support through as many avenues as you can. When it comes to on-the-job input, a tech-savvy mentor can be indispensable, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the tech industry is an island. Talk to people with positions and skill sets different from your own, odds are they’ll have more insight than you expect.

Lastly, try and find support through networking outside of work. Professors, friends, and even parents can be great career assets. Find peers in groups like Women Who Code, or even join a meetup online. You have the drive and ability to succeed in tech, so surround yourself with people who share your drive and are invested in your success.

 

Self-Doubt and Imposter Syndrome
Written by: Deanna Acerra, Project Manager

 

EVERYONE feels like an imposter sometimes and that’s OKAY! I’ve experienced both, first when I was starting out in my career and again recently when I started a new job. New is scary but it’s also an opportunity to learn more skills – embrace it! I’ve dealt with this feeling of self-doubt by being confident in my decision and finding mentors I admire and talking to them.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “fake it till you make it”. Showing your confidence in words and actions is the first step to overcoming the little voice inside your head telling you that you may not be good enough. You’re not an imposter if you’re willing to put in the time. As long as you have the drive and the determination to get where you need to be, you’ll be alright. No one is going to look down on you for trying, so don’t be shy, it will only hurt you in the long run.

Another way to overcome this feeling is by talking to people! Finding commonalities (not just tech) will help break the ice with your new-found mentor. Find someone who is where you want to be and strike a conversation, learn from them, you may even end up forming a mentor relationship without even knowing.

Lastly, remember the positives! We as humans are very quick to toss a compliment aside, when you’re feeling like a “fraud” remember the wins! Most of all, just remember you’re not alone. Even the most successful people get this feeling.

The Importance of Mentorship
Written by: Lindsay Stork, Senior Interactive Designer

 

It can be tempting to believe you are so independent and competent that a mentor is unnecessary, but even top-level employees have trusted mentors to guide them into uncharted territories. A mentor not only gives insight into your future path, but also can prepare you for difficult career situations. For those beginning their careers, a mentor is paramount to previewing into what your working life will consist of. Finding and approaching a good mentor can be challenging, especially in an age where people are consistently busy and distracted. I’ve found, however, that most people thoroughly enjoy helping others and are willing to mentor you if you are genuine in your approach. Mentors are all around you! Look to find someone who is where you want to be in 5 years or so. They will have a fresh outlook on the steps taken to succeed, whereas someone who is too senior might not have relatable life experiences.

At Something Digital, a mentor program was implemented to help fresh graduates transition into the workforce by pairing each new hire with a seasoned employee. New employees have an outlet for questions, concerns, and career advice. For me personally, my mentor is my own manager who has always been a strong advocate of my ideas and my career path. But if you don’t have a mentor set up in your school or workplace, reaching out to former coworkers or utilizing your network of classmates, peers, or even LinkedIn connections can help facilitate a mentor relationship. I find it’s always best to have a connection with someone in person before reaching out on LinkedIn or emailing out of the blue. Forming a genuine rapport with your mentor prospect will allow mentors to see your passions and want to foster them. For those that mentor others, it’s fulfilling to see your mentee grow while simultaneously realizing how much knowledge you’ve gained in the process.

Want to learn more about SD? Check out our 20 year anniversary blog!

Women in Tech

My Journey from Full-Time Student to Interactive Designer

My experience here at Something Digital has been an exciting journey. This is my first full-time job, so I was not sure what to expect, especially in an agency. Most of my past internships have been at tech companies or in-house. As a Communication Design major from Parsons School of Design, I was eager to work in an agency after I graduated since I knew working with many clients and working on multiple projects at the same time would be great exposure for a young designer like me starting a career.

I recall going to the Parsons Fall 2018 Career Fair and discussing my senior thesis project with Mickey and Yasemin. That same week I remember nervously entering the SD office for my first interview with a couple of the team members. After two weeks, I got a call saying I was hired for the position of an interactive designer on the creative team.

My first day was filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. I was nervous, shy, overwhelmed and excited all at the same time. There was a lot of information to process, from how to set up my work station, to learning how to see my work for each day, to logging in my time. What helped me the most going through the day was the positive environment of Something Digital. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly. My coworkers on the creative team helped me with any questions I had. I believe an office filled with talented, energetic and positive coworkers who encourage each other and make others feel comfortable around one another is the best environment to be in, and that is exactly what Something Digital offers.

Throughout my time here, I have learned numerous skills on design tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Sketch. I’ve been exposed to a variety of UX concepts I can now utilize in my work, how meetings are structured and presented internally or with clients, as well as what components are included in ecommerce design. Most importantly, I have learned how to juggle multiple clients/projects at the same time. The difference between a full-time student and full-time employee working on multiple design projects at the same time is that for school, it was internally for my professors. However, working on multiple designs as an employee in a design agency is a totally new experience. I am acquiring real world experience through my daily interactions with our team of programmers and designers, as well as our clients. Being able to see how my designs help our clients and their businesses is a great feeling. It feels rewarding to see my designs on a staging site or website that has been launched for the public to utilize.

Overall, my transition from a student to a full-time employee has been unexpectedly enlightening. I have gained a lot of experience from the various projects I have completed and from speaking and interacting with my coworkers. Something Digital provides me with an opportunity I did not know I would receive in an agency. I am excited to continue my journey here becoming a stronger, more experienced designer in the process.

20 year celebration

The Women of Something Digital Reflect on the Past 20 Years of the Tech Industry

Something Digital turns 20 years old this year. We launched in 1999, the year before Y2K, a time that many assumed the digital universe as we knew it would come to a crashing halt. Smartphones, today’s ubiquitous accessory, and the app marketplaces they quickly gave rise to, were still some years away.

It was a time of cautious optimism, wide-eyed wonder and naivety. Ecommerce was not quite the major engine of the consumer economy as it is today, as many people didn’t quite believe that giving their credit card info to the ethernet (as it was often called) was a good idea.

At the same time, the number of ecommerce sites was exploding; People magazine ran a weekly column, called “The Net,” that highlighted the amazing range of products that were now available on “The Net.” In 1999, Amazon patented it’s 1-click service, and Alibaba launched — events that undeniably ushered in revolutions in consumerism.

It was also a time when we were quite naive as to what it meant to go online, as cartoonist Peter Steiner’s famous cartoon so aptly captured (“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”)

We assumed that the Net was the place to go when you wanted to explore, shop, and browse in absolute privacy. How things have changed!

Now that global marketplaces and apps are our new normal, it’s hard to imagine there ever being a time when going online required computers and dial-up modems, or that Amazon only sold books!

To honor our 20-year journey, as well as all things digital, the women of Something Digital answered 20 questions about working and mentoring in the digital ecosystem.

Lindsay Pugh, Senior Digital Strategist & Writer

1. Where are the biggest career opportunities for women in the digital ecosystem?

There are opportunities for women everywhere and as we continue to progress companies need to ensure that they are hiring them at salaries equal to men, and providing necessary benefits like flexible time off and maternity leave.

2. Do women have a fair shot of advancing their careers in the digital ecosystem?

In general, no. Women are deterred from entering careers in tech, perhaps because 1) the leaders in the industry are all men, 2) the pay gap is significant, 3) young girls who are interested in STEM education don’t realize that those types of careers are even possible because they don’t see themselves represented in the field.

3. What advice would you give girls interested in pursuing computer science?

Find female mentors and male allies and don’t be afraid to ask them for advice. Be confident in your skills, even when other people dismiss you or try to make you feel inadequate. If you can, pursue internships during high school and college and try to learn as much as possible. Maintain connections with the people that you meet in those internships because they might be valuable when you’re ready to enter the job market. I am fortunate to have a wonderful female boss at Something Digital who does a great job providing advice, feedback, and a clear path for growth within the company.

4. What impediments still hold women back in the tech industry?

Here’s a quick list of what immediately comes to mind:

  • Gender wage gap
  • Promotion bias
  • A need for more work/family flexibility
  • Lack of maternity/paternity leave options
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Lack of mentorship opportunities
  • Lack of female role models in leadership positions

 

Megan DeLeonardis, Director of Strategic Engagement

5. Are there aspects of the digital age that have empowered or inspired you?

It’s inspiring to know that we’re in an industry that is always changing, one that demands us to grow and adapt to in order to survive. For example, digital has become so customer centric that agencies and service providers are forced to become more strategic and creative about what’s needed now, as well as what we project will be necessary in 12+ months from now.

6. What can technology companies do to help women progress in this field?

Promote women in thought leadership! The more women that are front and center and a part of the conversation, the more normal their leadership positions will become. Personally, when I find good talent, I’m willing to create a new role for that person to keep them engaged and growing within the organization. Women should feel empowered to create a role and position for their skill sets, even if such roles never existed before in that company. As quickly as digital is changing, so does the makeup of how we deliver it.

7. What is your favorite part of being a woman in this industry?

When I first started at SD there were ~8 other women in the company. Within a year we headed out for “tea at The Plaza for the women of SD” and we couldn’t all fit in the same elevator. My favorite part of being a woman in tech is hiring women that are better than me, which has turned out to be quite easy.

8. Is the digital ecosystem a force for good?

It depends on who you ask. Digital is everywhere and everything, but the way a 30-year old mother interacts with it is very different from a 65-year old grandmother or a 22-year old college graduate. It can be misused and abused, but it also provides conveniences and capabilities to individuals that previously didn’t have the opportunities. It may monopolize time or free up time. Each individual has the power to let it be a force for good or evil.

Melanie Lopez, Product Manager

9. What advice would you give girls interested in pursuing computer science?

Seek internship opportunities as early as possible to gather a wide range of experience and exposure before entering the workforce full-time. Having a range of internship experience with different companies will give you exposure to the way that different organizations are run, how role definitions may vary from company to company, and will give you insight into what organizational values resonate with you and allow you to do your best work.

I recommend looking for internship roles that will allow you access to doing as much hands-on work possible, and prioritizing working with companies and supervisors that value mentorship as one of their core leadership values. I was lucky to have a strong mentor as my supervisor in my first professional role, and the extra focus on professional development and the lessons that I learned early on from that experience still influence the work that I do directly now, and how I’ve approached the management of my direct reports over the years.

10. What progress do you see being made in the next 20 years for women in the industry?

I hope to see more representation for women in positions of leadership in technical and creative organizations in the coming years. I believe that companies in the industry can directly influence this in part by prioritizing diversity in their recruitment, creating mentorship and professional development tracks for women looking to advance within their organizations, and supporting and prioritizing paid family leave for men and women.

11. How can women help future generations of girls interested in the tech industry to further their education and possibly careers in the digital ecosystem?

A great start for women and men alike would be volunteering for mentorship programs that specialize in providing opportunities for extended education, training, and exposure for girls of all backgrounds who are interested in tech. Women may also consider creating internship opportunities within their organizations, and connecting with mentorship programs or women in technology groups in universities to promote these opportunities to candidates who may benefit the most from them.

Mickey Winter, Creative Director

12. Which trends are you most gung-ho about?

The digital trend that has peaked my interest the most is the rise of AI Voice Assistants. Think Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. These voice enabled devices are proving to be super helpful and totally ingrained in our everyday lives. They help us shop online, screen our calls, manage our calendars, give us the latest news, entertain our kids by playing “Baby Shark” over and OVER AGAIN, you name it. They are the equivalent of a human personal assistant.

However, I find it very interesting that the majority of these AI Assistants are either branded as a woman or utilize a woman’s voice. “They embody what we think of when we picture a personal assistant: a competent, efficient, and reliable woman.” (Source).

What does this say about our society that these devices test better as women, and that these female branded devices perform menial tasks similar to a 1950’s secretary, while IBM’s “male” branded Watson is utilized in cancer treatment, operating rooms, and the “all-knowing” Jeopardy winner?

13. Does the digital ecosystem represent women and their needs well?

Given my thoughts on AI Voice Assistants I truly don’t believe the current digital ecosystem represents women well. We have come far, but not far enough. If we had more women in a tech leadership position at these larger tech companies perhaps these devices would have been branded differently, even providing the end user with the option to name it as they see fit. “Bob, play Baby Shark”. We can do better, and we will.

Caitlin Mekita, Strategic Engagement Manager

14. Why do you think it’s important for women to get involved in the digital ecosystem?

By including women’s voices, experiences, and skills in the designing and building of technology, we can create better, more inclusive products for everyone. The digital ecosystem is a cornerstone of a modern economy, and one with tremendous growth opportunities. As women strive for equality on all fronts, progress in the digital ecosystem will be of paramount importance.

15. Do you think schools are offering enough exposure to computer science to young girls?

Schools are not offering enough exposure to computer science, period. The subject is often dismissed as extra-curricular and computer science classes are among the first to be cut as school budgets are slashed. Offering equal opportunities to excel in computer science to young students is extremely important for women. As we know, talent in this arena is distributed equally among all students, and equal and enthusiastic encouragement for young students to study computer sciences will benefit women’s progress in the field.

16. Do you think the way the media represents computer science and coding is gender inclusive? Why or why not?

A quick Google image search of the word “programmer” yields thousands of images. The first appearance of a woman is the 36th result. As a society we still perceive “programmers” “engineers” and even “hackers” as men. TV (looking at you, Silicon Valley) and films tend to reinforce the perception. On a positive note, women’s computer science programs, such as Girls Who Code, have been able to garner considerable media attention and therefore have been able to reach a wider audience of girls and women looking to enter the industry.

Gina Angelotti, Interactive Designer

17. In which ways (if any), do you think, are we still naive about the internet?

I worry that we are naïve about how much free will we truly have. I’ve been thinking a lot about a medium article I read recently. In it, the writer, an MIT researcher, discusses the consequences of information online becoming more centralized and how our social media feeds gaze inward, failing to link out — with the exception of paid advertising — to other sites in the greater, potentially-soon-to-be-forgotten web ecosystem. Among the negative effects is that we lose control of what we’re exposed to, leaving the decision of what we read and digest up to inherently biased algorithms or machines. The writer doesn’t touch on PWAs, but I wonder if by saving only the apps we ‘choose’  to our devices, and cycling through them exclusively over and over, we shut out other voices, ideas, and opportunities. It may look like free will, but our exposure to the outside world increasingly becomes programmed, curated to a singular viewpoint, and therefore disconnected. A limited point of view, with content dictated by a limit group of people, winds up limiting our freedoms. That said, maybe the thing we are most naïve about is accepting that everything both on and offline evolves; we are not and have never been fully in control.

18. What feature or service do you wish existed but doesn’t today?

As a UX designer, I would love to be able to optionally cherry pick and turn off the extra noise on the websites I visit and the apps I use. Technically, I can do that using browser inspector tools, but those preferences don’t hold upon refreshing a page or entering a workflow. Not unlike a pop-up blocker, but for fixed elements within a webpage or product, anything that I find distracting in the moment or hinders my ability to enjoy the shopping, reading, task-managing experience. I like the idea of having sessions-based or cookie-based personalization controls, like the ability to easily change a typeface to one that is more legible if I’m reading a long article, hide all upsells and cross-sells on product detail pages so I can focus on the product at hand, or universally suppress paid content that I might mistake as genuine. I imagine it like a simple gesture, one that can’t be mistaken for any other. I suggest sessions-based, because I don’t want to risk missing out on information that might apply to me on subsequent visits. Our tastes, needs, and capabilities change over time, so what’s ‘noise’ to me today might not be tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if some level of this kind of customization already exists, and if it does, tell me about it stat!

Leslie Hernandez, Office Coordinator

19. When you consider the digital trends of today, which are you most cautiously optimistic about?

I believe social media has become a great way for women to discover new interests and connect with influencers and confident women to look up to. However, I think that sometimes the lives we see on social media are idealized to a fault. Social media can often contort our ideas of reality- and make women unfairly compare themselves to the ‘picture perfect’ lives they see online. I believe it’s important for women to look beyond what social media tells them is “perfect”, and find worth in the work they do, the interests they pursue, and the talents they have.

Brittany Wheeler, Marketing Manager

20. What is your favorite part of digital?

My favorite part of digital is how connected digital has made all of us. It definitely has it upsides and downsides but overall I believe it’s made a positive impact on the world. It allows us to collaborate with people on the other side of the world and helps us solve problems. It can also make it difficult to weed through what is true or false but it’s given us a better sense of awareness about what to believe and makes us do research to learn more. It has opened our minds to other cultures and beliefs and allowed us to connect with people no matter where they are in the world.

At Something Digital we feel it is extremely important to be inclusive to all. Over the last 20 years we have continued to work to be inclusive and are excited to share the following stats:

  • Currently, our leadership roles consist of 50% women.
  • We offer competitive wages for men and women.
  • We offer opportunities to speak at events focused on supporting women in tech.
  • Our female to male ratio is 41%.

 

If you’re interested in speaking with SD about career opportunities or how you support women in tech we’d love to hear from you! 

Connected Commerce

A Joyous Occasion: A Summary of SD’s talk at Connected Commerce

Given that public speaking is fear number one for me, whenever I am approached to speak in front of large groups of professionals my first fantasy is that the talk will be cancelled. ‘Surely a hurricane will come through the same day as the event! The date is also dangerously close to flu season – I’m most definitely going to get the flu!’ That internal dialogue began when my creative director here at SD, Mickey Winter, first mentioned the two of us giving a talk at Connected Commerce 2018, a conference in New York City. She might as well have asked me to climb Mt. Everest. But after the panic subsided and reality set in, I realized that planning ahead, one step at a time, eventually makes that mountain look more like a hill.

And that’s just what we did. We prepped and rehearsed and came up with relatable content not only for merchants, but for every person interested in the attainment of joy. We were inspired by Ingrid Fetel Lee’s 2018 TedTalk “Where joy hides and how to find it”.  We researched what brings us joy, how we can manifest these ideas into a web store’s UX/UI, and some of our own work at SD that represents these ideas.

After arriving at the conference, Mickey and I were resolute in executing this presentation with confidence. The conference itself is a one-day summit that brings together brands, retailers, and solution providers for a day of talks and networking, hosted by our good friends at Logicbroker. Those dreaded butterflies fluttered for the hours leading up to our talk, and lingered backstage as the two of us waited for our turn. But after shooing them off with some silent aerobic exercises just before we walked into the spotlight, we finally presented.

And here you have it, a brief summary of our talk:

5 UX/UI Principals that Evoke Joy

What is joy and how can we use it?

First, there is distinction that needs to be made between the feeling of joy and the feeling of happiness. Both are emotions almost every human experience in a lifetime. Happiness is how good we feel measured over time whereas joy is what you feel in the moment. Right now. Psychologists describe the word joy as is an intense, momentary experience of positive emotion.

What about the images below give off a feeling joy? If you analyze closely you’ll find that there are 5 common UX/UI patterns seen in all of these images that can help evoke joy within an ecommerce experience.

#1 Roundness or Curves

From an evolutionary perspective, humans prefer rounded shapes compared to shapes with sharp angles. Sharp angles often signify danger, while curves elicit a feeling of ease. Incorporating this into a UI could be as simple as designing buttons with rounded corners or placing imagery within rounded containers.

RileyHome utilizes round shapes throughout the homepage and navigation elements.

 

#2 Pops of Color

Who doesn’t love a beautiful rainbow? Color gives of a feeling of energy and signals to us life itself. People in colorful spaces often feel more alert, confident, and friendlier. When it comes to UI elements, color is easy to manifest in calls to action, promotional banners, and even the product photography itself.

Industry West utilizes color in their photography and UI to elicit a feeling of joy.

 

#3 Floating or Lightness

If you’ve ever swung high on a swing set, you know the feeling of being completely weightless for the brief second before gravity kicks in. The feeling of floating or lightness can be seen and felt when adequate white space is used throughout a page. Customers find content easier to digest when a page is less cluttered.

Malin & Goetz utilizes a white space around its products and within the packaging design itself, giving a feeling of lightness. 

 

#4 Abundance or Multiples

From a primal perspective, scarcity is a dangerous feeling. An abundance of food means survival. Showing products in groups or in a way that it looks like they are abundant will make Customers feel more at ease.

Baked By Melissa showcases multiple cupcakes in almost every product shot.

 

#5 Symmetrical Shapes

Symmetry is beautiful. People generally prefer symmetrical faces to non-symmetrical ones. We are hardwired to look for patterns and balance, and when we see it, it just feels right. Symmetry in UI can be done using equally sized images or similar content on both sides of the page.

Lib-Tech’s homepage is design to be completely symmetrical.

 

These 5 principles designers and merchants alike can follow when creating customer experiences:

1. Roundness or Curves
2. Pops of Color
3. Floating or Lightness
4. Abundance or Multiples
5. Symmetrical Shapes

If these principals are incorporated tactfully into a web store’s UX/UI, customers will leave the store feeling wonderful about their purchases, and likely to return for more.

As Mickey and I walked off the stage a warm sense of relief and excitement flooded over me. For both of us, it was our first time presenting to a crowd of this size, and the feeling of personal accomplishment was immensely fulfilling. The best part of the whole experience was meeting with professionals after the talk who truly wanted to discuss ideas further with us. We both agreed, the experience was a joyous first!