I'm a web developer with interactive & online project management experience who has spent the last 8 years working for key players in the media and journalism arena. Currently working to enhance the user experience on USAToday.com.
I have worked in online media and technology for over 8 years and have a degree in computer science. I'm currently a web developer at Gannett, but have spent much of my career as an interactive project manager for Scripps. I'm an audiophile with a vinyl addiction and I love cycling and doughnuts so much that I created DCDonutCrawl.
I've spent the last 2 years as a web developer for a major media corporation. Before that, I was working as an interactive project manager in the same arena. I've highlighted just a few of the projects that I've managed as well as a few others where I've done some front-end development work.
I'm not the biggest fan of talking about myself, but you're probably here because you want to know more about me. Since that's likely the case, I've included a few things that some of my colleagues and business partners have said about me. This is just a sample, but you can find more on my LinkedIn profile.
The bulk of my professional career has been spent as an interactive and online project manager. For over 6 years I have effectively collaborated with and lead teams through the entire project life cycle across multiple, national websites. Specific work includes requirements gathering, outlining the goals and strategy for each product/project, and working directly with the UX teams, designers, and engineers building the solution. My background in computer science blended with my business and sales insight gives me a unique advantage to act as a liaison and communicator between the developers and stakeholders.
On a more personal note, I love design and photography. I'm a sucker for storytelling and documentary film. I like finding new music and prefer vinyl to digital. I successfully organized and have maintained the DCDonutCrawl. My favorite thing to do is travel and I've visited 6 countries outside of the United States. I love to bike, snowboard, and hike, but you'll also find me holed up with a book or researching new trends in tech and web development.
I consider myself lucky to have worked with Erik in both his role as project manager, as well as user interface developer at Scripps. Erik’s the kind of person that excels at whatever he works on. He’s dependable and has a lot of drive to see a job well done. As a PM, he often went well beyond what was expected of him and would do whatever it took to make sure the project went smoothly. He’s excellent at facilitating communication, something you would quickly realize if you were working on a project that did not include him as PM.
One of the great things about Erik is that he’s always willing to get in there and learn new things and take on new challenges. This is extremely evident in his transition to UI development. Erik was quickly able to pick up the skills he needed to jump in on developing the front-end of our products. His amazing eye and patience for detail makes him an invaluable asset on the implementation side of things. Within the UX team, Erik brings some great insights to our brainstorming and problem solving sessions. Added on top of that, he’s not afraid to volunteer for whatever needs to be done. Anybody would be lucky to have Erik as part of their team.Sara - User Experience Specialist, Interactive Design @ E. W. Scripps (colleague)
Erik was an outstanding business partner for us. From our initial talks straight to the final contract signing, Erik managed the timeline and project deliverables with clarity and a good sense of urgency. Erik communicated regularly, keeping all the players on the same page, and working through the road bumps. He also is very organized so we always knew where we were in the process. It was a pleasure to work with Erik.Manolo - Co-Founder @ IndexTank (business partner)
Erik is a great project manager with excellent people skills. His open communication style helps create a positive energy to his project teams. He is conscientious and well organized, which helps keep his projects on track and on budget. He's proactive and not afraid to reach out to others and ask questions. Above all, Erik is a pleasure to work with and inspires trust and a spirit of teamwork in his colleagues.Amy - Director of Online Operations @ E. W. Scripps (colleague)
I've had the pleasure to work with Erik in two different capacities during my time with both The Commercial Appeal and E.W. Scripps: Erik the Project Manager and Erik the UI Developer.
As a project manager, Erik is second to none. Unless you've spent time in the newspaper industry's digital divisions, you don't know what it truly means to manage a project. Dealing with publishers, editors, sales managers, developers and UX specialists, Erik had to shepherd projects from beginning to end that spanned multiple websites and had to meet requirements and deadlines set by groups with different agendas. Through it all, he improved products, met deadlines and facilitated strong channels of communication.
As a UI Developer in our UX group, Erik has not only excelled in code, but has an innate understanding of the user and has been a key member during strategic meetings and conversations. When he shifted from his role as a PM to his new role as a UI Developer, he was off to the races, picking up our templating system and jQuery libraries with ease. He also has an amazing eye for detail, something any designer will tell you is integral in a UI Developer.
Beyond all that, though, he's been my partner in crime for front-end development. Bounce an idea off of him; it will come back better. Ask for help finding and fixing a bug; a solution will be found.
He's an absolute joy to work with. An amazing Web professional by any definition, in any role.Bryan - User Experience Specialist @ E. W. Scripps (colleague)
If you work in the online space, you've heard the adage "content is king". As one of the nation's top content producers, USAToday.com wanted to add a User-Generated Content (UGC) feature to their website in an effort to increase their content and their reach. Having users upload their own photos and videos to the website would increase the potential of content being shared and therefore draw more users to the site via social sharing.
Your Take was developed to accomplish those goals, but an additional objective was to increase the number of registered users on USAToday.com. It was important that the login/registration process be simple, and our plan was to build out a progressive registration that would only collect a limited amount of info up front, and could then ask for additional details later. Using Facebook or Google+ allowed us to easily access a baseline of info then allow users to quickly get started posting their photos and videos. Below, you'll find a screenshot of the Your Take homepage.
Gannett, the parent company of USAToday.com, also owns numerous other newspapers (both daily and weekly) and dozens of local television broadcast companies. In an effort to streamline processes and reduce costs over time, the company plans to migrate all of their websites over to the home-grown platform that was built for the USAToday.com relaunch.
I was appointed as the Technical Lead for a small, but extremely talented team of employees tasked to migrate and configure multiple newspaper websites to prepare them for relaunch. As you can see below, there is a vast difference in the before and after screenshots of one of the websites to undergo the relaunch.
Most of the design and development had already been completed and was part of the platform. The bulk of our work focused around data gathering and collaboration with publishers, editors, and other stakeholders. After extended research and organization of collected data, we set ourselves to the configuration of that data into multiple admin tools, including one that I was able to test and provide feedback in its development.
With Redding.com as our test case, our goal was to implement game dynamics into the site, without it being too obtrusive. The design needed to increase user engagement, but we were very careful not to overwhelm or encumber the user with too many details or hoops to jump through.
As the lead project manager for this implementation, I had to work closely with the staff at Redding.com, including their publisher, online editor, and other online production employees. I also worked directly with our corporate software engineers and user experience specialists as there was a lot of custom development work that we had to accomplish internally.
I organized and led weekly calls with our internal stakeholders and with our vendor, Bunchball, to keep the project on track and to ensure deliverables were met on the milestones set for the project. I used Basecamp to manage my projects at Scripps and this was no exception. It provided a simple solution for tracking project goals, documents, and direct communications.
We launched the project in phases, with each sequential release including more functionality for the end users. The first launch phase was a beta release to a limited group of users. We wanted to test out a base feature set with the core online community at Redding.com and selected a group of 500 of the most engaged users for the test. They provided lots of valuable feedback, which helped our user experience team to redesign some of the game features. The official launch included a great deal of hype and was well received by the community at large. The content producers at Redding.com even created a summary page to inform their users of the changes they could expect and how to navigate the new features.
The screenshot above shows how we displayed the badges and completed challenges to the users on their own personal profile pages. We also developed a notification bar that runs along the bottom of the website (screenshot below), which can be expanded to further engage the user to explore the site by providing examples of how to complete new achievements and earn more points. Another popular feature, which directly addressed our improved quality of comments KPI, was the addition of the "insightful" button. Similar to Facebook's "Like" button, the insightful button encouraged readers to give credit to other commenters who were adding value to the discussion, but it also had the effect of subtly encouraging users to be more thoughtful and engaging in their own comments. Redding.com saw a decrease in comment spam and trolling after implementing this feature.
Overall, this project was quite challenging, but I was thankful to have a team of extremely talented developers and UX specialists doing most of the work. All of the KPIs below, as well as a few others, were met in the successful launch of this project. We made our deadline and delivered a quality product to the staff and user community of Redding.com.
The email marketing product had a business plan of $1M in annual revenue, but we couldn't do it on our current vendor solution. Scripps needed to find a solution that would allow their newspaper properties to streamline the email process, but also to create new revenue potential with highly targeted audience groups and additional ad positions in our content emails. My job as the project manager consisted of defining the product requirements, vetting potential vendors, making a recommendation to the project stakeholders, and coordinating all aspects of the implementation with our internal developers and vendor contacts.
We settled on ExactTarget as our email marketing vendor and were very pleased during our time working with them. Because we had large integration goals with their system, I helped to manage a few fast track projects with our corporate development team, in addition to the overall implementation of the solution in all of our markets. Our developers interfaced with their API to automate breaking news sends out of our backend CMS. Our user experience specialists also helped to develop new templates where updated news content could be scraped and added to a newsletter on time of send. All of these smaller sprints were part of the larger product implementation project and each was handled in accordance with the overall project scope and goals.
In addition to coordination and management of our resources and the project timeline, I was also responsible for creating training documentation and videos to aide our newspaper sales staff and content producers in creating engaging newsletters and effective sales-focused advertising emails. Not only did I provide them with instruction on the ins and outs of the backend system and how to manage a successful email campaign, but I also educated them on best practices for content placement and verbiage that proved more successful in A/B tests performed on larger audiences.
A few of our newspaper properties managed separate, branded entertainment websites. These sites ran on the same Django/Ellington framework that the core newspaper websites were built on, but had a distinctly different template structure, which was in desperate need of an update.
We wanted to make these new sites (GoMemphis.com, Knoxville.com, GoNaples.com, and MetroPulse.com) the best tool – nationally and locally – for users in our markets to find events and local attractions. Here are a couple of screenshots showing the home page of GoMemphis.com before and after the redesign.
For this project, I worked with the individual entertainment staff employees at each of our properties to get a clear understanding of how each site was used, not only by them, but also by their communities of loyal readers. We had many discussions to determine which aspects of the site were the most important and had narrowed down the results to showcasing "Things To Do" and "Places To Go". Taking these findings back to the User Experience and Development teams, it provided the basis of how we would proceed with the redesign of our content.
The screenshot above shows how we were able to incorporate our traditional template ad positions, but still create a unique design that really differentiated itself from the newspaper that the entertainment site was tied to. It was also extremely important to work with our sales and ad serving groups in order develop a design and workflow that would accommodate both traditional and new sales opportunities. During discussions with the sales team, we found a business need for spotlighting certain places in our local markets, which could provide a generous revenue stream. I took the requirements to our development team and we were able to come up with a solution that would not only include an elegant design, but would also have an intuitive user interface for managing the featured places. This was one example where the scope changed during the project implementation, but we were able to complete the additional changes and still complete the other project goals on time and on budget.
There were three main components for the special election coverage; display live poll results from the data we were receiving from the Knox County Election Commission, highlight recent tweets (a.k.a. "dispatches") from a predetermined group of Twitter users, and create a live-blog style landing page where the election tweets would live.
The "knoxnews NOW" branded section on the homepage was reserved for a list of live Tweets that were pulled in based on a subset of users who included pre-determined hashtags. The section would update with a status bar, much like Twitter.com, letting you know that new "dispatches" were available and could be viewed by clicking the status bar.
The live-blog style landing page worked in the exact same manner, but gave the user a more detailed view of the dispatches, pulling in photos and videos that were linked in the Tweets. It would also update every 15 seconds, as new dispatches were posted.
This project was a lot of fun to work on and, even though we were rushed with our deadline, I was able to develop this homepage and related pages to be a pixel-perfect representation of the design mockups I was provided.