January 12, 2022
3 min read
This month, we’ve asked three members of the team to answer some questions to help you to get to share what’s been happening within our team and share a little bit about themselves.
Hackathon was a great experience because I got to work with people and teams who I normally wouldn’t work with, including our ERG leaders who came to the project with a lot of insight and perspective I wouldn’t have normally gotten inside my everyday product team bubble. We were able to focus on a product feature that wouldn’t normally be put on the roadmap, and being able to build that vision from the ground up was really inspiring.
We were able to code and demo three platforms by the end of the three days, which speaks to the amazing work and commitment every person - from marketing to engineering to sales - had for our idea. I also enjoyed collaborating with designers from the Diner team because it made me a lot more comfortable to reach out to product owners on Diner and suggest cross-platform product features.
I got to create the visual identity system for Hackathon with our amazing illustrator Maggie Famiglietti. We were inspired by a DIY screen-printing effect that permeated the entire branding for both digital and print. I oversaw the creation of spirited illustrators and playful type that tied back into our larger campaign work, aligning internal and external branding to reach more casual audiences.
As we continue to define and scale this approach, I look forward to elevating our brand in meaningful ways and giving employees quality events and materials.
It was a brilliant experience, thanks to the company for making this happen. Working with people from teams we don’t normally work with was fantastic, and getting to define a project that we believe would benefit our products (without the need to add JIRA tickets or a PRD) was really exciting. And the projects ranged from adding new or extending features that exist to building new internal tools to help us work better together.
The stand out moment for me this year was getting to work with people from the sales part of the organisation – getting to understanding the problems they face and working with them to create solutions they, and I, would see as a great benefit to the company. I’m sure they appreciated their ideas being turned into visuals that they would love to see built and presented back to restaurants to use.
It’s amazing how everything comes together, how everyone contributes to an idea, contributes to creating a deck to present back, and to creating a demo to bring the idea to life.
The two pieces of advice that have stuck with me through my career is one, always have a good reason behind why you are making a design decision, whether it’s based on research you’ve done, or interface guidelines. Always be able to back up your design decisions.
And the second piece of advice is a famous quote from Abe Lincoln that says "If you only have an hour to chop down a tree, spend the first 45 minutes sharpening the axe". I feel that applies to product design because if you plan well, do the research, then design itself should not take that long. It’s the planning, strategy, and thought behind the product that’s going to be the most impactful and what you should be spending most of your time on.
The best advice someone has ever given me is '"Just because you can doesn't mean you should". As I continue into my career, managing others and providing direction for creative across the company, I’ve realized that scaling quality design doesn’t mean I have to be as hands on as I was earlier in my career.
Setting up others for success, teaching them proper design thinking and working with them on quality execution has helped me have the bandwidth to focus on larger storytelling and alignment. As any company grows there will naturally be more work, but hiring and retaining quality employees and agencies is fundamental to great design at scale.
How to give feedback. When I joined OpenTable I was conscious that everyone else had a greater understanding of the product and so was nervous about giving feedback because I was so new to the business. My mentor gave a few tips on how to respond by saying ‘My gut reaction is....’, ‘My initial response is...’, etc. It really helped me feel more confident in giving feedback when joining a new role.
My highlight of 2021 was diving head first into design systems and learning as much as I could about it. There’s so much to learn and I loved that design systems allowed me to collaborate with other designers and engineers in a different way, but also better understand how to build, maintain, and update our restaurant design library to be more helpful to the larger design team.
2021 was the year where we got to launch of refreshed brand narrative, which took form in our summer and winter campaigns. Under the rallying cry of DINE ON, we championed restaurants on our network at the local level through a truly integrated approach.
We developed an OOH takeover for SF, LA, Denver and Miami with 19 photo shoots at local restaurants. By making our restaurants the stars of our promotion we reached a new level of authenticity with our brand. This campaign also performed exceedingly well and has informed our take for future work. I’m proud to have been part of this major milestone for the company.
My highlight was our Product Summit in November. The Product Managers and Product Designers from each office spent three days together doing various activities.
The London team got together separately on one day and spent it doing a walking, eating and drinking around south east London. We ate delicious pasta, amazing donuts, tried mulled gin, and got to spend some time with people who we hadn’t seen face-to-face for a few months.
Street gyros! Especially the ones from Salt Lake City because they have the best Greek food and I miss it so much!
Schnitzel! My father is Austrian and I grew up eating it nearly every week. It’s the perfect combination of fried meat and my childhood. Schnitzel pairs well with potatoes, a fresh salad and lemon. YUM!
It’s inspired me to try making it myself, but nothing compares with my mother’s version. I’m always on the lookout for a great German restaurant, and my current favorite is Brotzeit right here in Oakland, California!
Cha siu bao (steam pork buns) – I don’t need anything else. Amazing flavours and textures – I’d happily eat them all day, everyday.
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