Featured Employer: Schoolwires Product Design & Innovation Team
Schoolwires: The Company
We’ve been building and hosting K-12 school websites for more than 10 years, and our content management system, mobile solutions, and services are designed with K-12 needs in mind. That’s because we believe technology should be about the people who use it. So everyone in your K-12 community — teachers, staff, parents and students — can stay connected, share information, and keep up with what’s happening in your district. Whenever they want. Wherever they are.
Product Promotion Video
Schoolwires is dedicated to K-12 education, and to the people who are part of every local school community — students, families, teachers, administrators, and supporters of education. From the beginning, we’ve believed that a successful school district is a product of total community involvement. That’s why our mobile and Web-based solutions are expressly designed to help you connect with the information, services and people you need to achieve your district goals. For more than 10 years, our intuitive technologies have been helping administrators, educators, students and parents, communicate and collaborate like never before — to come together around success. Today, more than 10 million users in the U.S. and China rely on our content management system, mobile solutions and safe collaborative learning community to drive engagement in the classroom, locally and across the globe. We’re proud to be a part of that. And we remain committed to helping K-12 communities extend their local reach and transcend the boundaries of their districts so that individuals everywhere can achieve their full potential.
Our inclusive work environment, core values and high-performing culture allow every Schoolwires employee to personally and collectively contribute to our company’s success. We make professional growth and development opportunities available to every member of our organization. At Schoolwires, we embrace a culture of openness and creativity, with a free exchange of ideas:
- We believe that each of us is responsible for creating a great culture that promotes openness, creativity and achievement.
- We value our differences and embrace the diversity among us, welcoming a free exchange of thoughts and ideas.
- We ensure every employee open access to all levels of management, and equal opportunities for professional development and career advancement, based on qualifications, performance and alignment with shared values.
How To Bring Together An Amazing In-House Product Design Team
By: Jennifer Aldrich
While conversing with some of my UX pro peers, I’ve discovered that in-house design teams at software companies are extremely varied in make up. Some places have great team dynamics and others really don’t. At my company Schoolwires, we have a completely awesome Design & Innovation team with members that work incredibly well together, not only from a personality stance, but from a combined powerhouse of skills stance. So today, I’m going to focus on answering the question:
What does it take to create a killer in-house Design and Innovation team?
1. An Incredibly Innovative Vice President
At my company we have a VP of Product Design and Innovation who is one of the most contagiously creative, innovative people I have ever met. You go into what should be a mundane meeting with him, and come out feeling inspired every single time. He also has a vision of the future of technology that reaches out decades. He’s always thinking about the next next, with his finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest apps and software and technology trends.
2. A UX Manager Who Thinks in Wireframes and Dreams Code
Our Manager of User Experience literally thinks in wireframes and dreams code. She hears a concept and immediately starts brainstorming the wireframes in her mind. She is incredibly talented, and has a background in code, so she not only pictures design in her mind, she knows how to MAKE the things she envisions. She’s also a mobile developing/designing genius. Cap that off with being a phenomenal, supportive manager and you’ve got Sara.
3. Three Creative UX Architects Who Love to Design
We have three fantastic architects on our team who really enjoy designing. Our architects do the data layer/api/business layer work for all of our projects, but they also lead designs and create wireframes at times.They are able to tell us at a glance if what we hope can happen is actually feasible. If we had to wait until our designs were passed off to development to find that information out, we’d end up with hours and hours of additional rework time. Don, Heather and Craig are the key to keeping us agile.
4. Two Extremely Talented UX Designers
Our UX designers are fantastic.
Danelle makes our CMS interface and our mobile apps look like works of art, and can kick out gorgeous high res mockups on a dime! She is constantly looking for the latest and greatest design tricks and tips, and brings fresh ideas and concepts to our products on a regular basis to ensure positive user experiences.
Kelly is an epic interaction designer. She comes up with new innovative ways to make our products even more interesting and user friendly! She focuses on a user centered design approach to ensure that our latest features and product enhancements will positively impact the lives of our clients.
5. A Content Strategist With A Background in Psychology
Our Content Strategist & UX Editor Jennifer loves conducting user research & usability testing regularly, writing user friendly microcopy to ensure consistent voice and tone, reviewing and collaborating on designs to ensure usability, analyzing product statistics to identify trends, and discovering all the ways we can make our clients lives easier through design.
The 8 of us work together exceptionally well because we work in an environment that supports open sharing of ideas. We all have the utmost respect for one another, and our leadership team has made it clear that every member of the team is valued, as are their opinions.
It’s also accepted team wide that no one is perfect, nor are they expected to be. Sometimes we’re right, and sometimes we’re wrong but the safe environment for sharing both good and bad ideas leads to incredible collaboration and ultimately stronger, more innovative, user friendly products.
You don’t have to go freelance to love your job! Our team is living proof that in-house design team utopia does exist.
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