Caylee Betts, Product Designer

DigitalOcean

During my first 9 months at DigitalOcean, I lead the product design for our Community product, where 5,600,000 visitors from 236 countries come for sysadmin and development tutorials and Q&A each month. Most recently, I've joined the Customer Experience team, working across DigitalOcean's Cloud product.

Role: Product Designer



Community

User Profile
As we set out to create a more engaging, customized community, we overhauled user profiles for a few reasons. First, we wanted users to have the opportunity to establish a reputation. We also wanted to learn more about individuals to lay the groundwork for serving them the most relevant content. As an added bonus, this personal content can be useful as we look to understand more about our users on the Cloud side of the business. Finally, we wanted to lay the groundwork for gamifying participation in the community, starting with Accepted Answers and Completed Tutorials as first achievements.

You can see the old profile here:

Ask a Question
We were trying to solve a few problems within our Ask a Question flow. The first is that customers were asking duplicate questions when they could be getting an answer immediately. We also noticed that a lot of questions weren’t being formatted correctly, and adequate details were not being added.

As users type, we populate related content (already-answered-questions and tutorials) that might help them immediately.

Additional to our error states, we also have helper states that help users create better questions. In green you'll see the types of questions that informed the logic that triggered helpers or errors.

Community: Accepted Answer
As part of the effort to make answers easier to find, we felt it was important to be able to see when a question had an answer at first glance from the Questions index page. Once you click into the question, you want to see the answer right away.

In doing this work, we noticed that many answers were winding up as comments. We made a few changes to address the problem. The first is to collapse the commenting section when answers have been given. The assumption is that the answers are the most useful content after the question, and the user can easily expand comments if they’re curious. This reduces the amount of answers incorrectly posted as comments.

Here you can see the original experience:

And here, the updated experience, with a collapsed comment section, the answers above the answer submission form, and an author-accepted answer.

The other change we introduced was a mod tool for posting comments as answers. Converting the comment to an answer posed a pretty big technical challenge because of the way the two were built, but quoting the comment and posting as an answer quickly worked around this. The answer cites the original author and links to the comment in context.

Engineering Tutorials
DigitalOcean has written top-notch sysadmin tutorials for years, but this year, we decided to expand our audience (and SEO) by introducing development tutorials. Based on our new writer’s curriculum for a 30 tutorial Python course, we made incremental changes to our current tutorials experience to support the content. We introduced the ability to mark a tutorial as completed so a user can easily track their progress through series’.

I worked with an awesome designer, Colin Keany, on this project.


Design Team Things!

Informed Design Framework
I am super interested in process, learning and collaboration. Since starting at DO, I’ve headed up a few initiatives. First, I created our Informed Design Framework. Our team has scattered experience with research, testing, and working with data, so I consolidated our knowledge, resources, and new research on these practices into this framework. Designers can use it to read up on best practices for different types of testing, find users, see what testing and data tools we subscribe to, and link out to documentation from past efforts.

Technical Curriculum for Designers
Joining a technical company can be daunting, so I started documenting all the things I was learning to be sure that our next hire would have a guide. I turned this into a spreadsheet entitled “Technical Curriculum for Designers” that documents steps and links out to useful resources.

Product Design Process
As with many young design teams, our process is still a work in progress. As I started to hear similar struggles coming from different designers, I realized we were each running into the same problems. We needed to start advocating for what would allow us to do our best work, so I set out to formalize our process. I asked each designer to fill out the steps of their ideal process, and I consolidated these into one master process. We got buy-in from our CTO (whose org we’re in) and have the go ahead to present the process at the engineering managers and product managers meetings. The idea is to educate the rest of the company on the value of these steps and start building more time into our sprints for things like discovery and testing.

Interim Management
When my boss was out for 5 weeks, I was asked to stand in as interim manager. I continued to push the above initiatives forward and worked with the team to add two new twice-monthly events: Design Jams (where we pull UI or UX inconsistencies from a backlog to discuss, decide upon, and update across the product) and Show & Tell (where we have a designer or product manager explain a complex piece of the internet/cloud/servers that we don’t know enough about). Both of these meetings have created more collaboration and shared knowledge within our team. While recruiting designers, I worked with our team to write a design challenge for applicants and created an evaluation criteria to judge submissions. I got to spend time with each designer, our CTO, and each product manager through weekly 1:1s, and generally learned a lot more about the company during this time.

10/10 - would manage again ;)