July 25-27, 2018 / Vancouver, BC

An Interview with Eileen Webb

Written by Shannon Fisher

March 5, 2017

Steve chats with Eileen about her work with mission driven non profits to help them build the skills internally to maintain their content and design systems. We also hear about her skills on a tandem bike and all the soft animals at Web Meadow. We're very excited to have Eileen back in Vancouver this July!

Register Today


Transcription

Steve
Hi, we're back for another interview for the Design and Content Conference and today, we're chatting with Eileen Webb. Eileen, why don't you introduce yourself to the DCC crowd?

Eileen
Hello everyone, I am Eileen. I am a content strategist. My background is as a CMS developer and a back end site builder and so I focus a lot on structure and nerdy architecture pieces of websites. I live in northern New Hampshire on a farm. I got chickens, I got bunnies, I have a lot of soft animals.

Steve
That is you and if you follow Eileen on Instagram, you may get to see bunnies eating things which is the most relaxing and fun thing ever.

Eileen
It is very satisfying.

Steve
It is so satisfying.

Eileen, we're excited that you are coming back. You were at our first year for the Design and Content Conference, but we'd love to hear what you're up these days. What's something that you're excited about or that you're working on right now that you could tell us a little bit about?

Eileen
I work a lot with non-profits and mostly mission driven non-profits and also government organizations who are really serving communities and a thing that I have been excited about lately is that I've been teaching a lot of workshops which I have really been enjoying sort of teaching people to do the kinds of things that they need to do to get their work done as opposed to coming in as an outside consultant, creating something for them and then leaving when I'm done. Instead I'm helping them build the skills internally to keep doing the kinds of work over and over again, like long term over their projects and I've really been enjoying that. I like teaching and I like helping people feel more confident in their jobs and sort of get a new aspect to the work they've already been doing and finding new things to be excited about in their work.

Steve
That's great, that sounds, again, really satisfying. Now, you're coming to actually talk to us at the conference about helping teams do things better. Maybe you could tell us a little bit more about your talk and what people could expect and maybe some tidbits from there.

Eileen
So what I'm talking about is the idea when you launch a website or you launch a section of a website or a project and when the people who have been building the site have been really steeped in, they've been working on it for days and weeks and months, we sort of take a lot of assumptions about what the project is about and who it's for and some of the core strategies and goals, and we have internalized those so much that we forget to teach that information to the people who are going to be maintaining the site afterwards.

So, often you'll have a core team building a site and then later, you'll have people coming in to maintain it or you have new editors coming onto your team or new designers coming on to build out sections and even if it's based on a pattern library or even if you have editorial guidelines, we often just don't give those people enough information to make good decisions and so we see things like people choosing stock photos that aren't the right kinds of photos for the site or writing something, writing headlines that don't quite fit in with the rest of the headlines. And I feel like that's really on us as the people who are creating the sites to do not just documentation, documentation is just this one skinny layer of it, but to do a better job of understanding what kind of information we need to communicate to our team members, current and ongoing, so they can make good decisions and keep the site not just sort of on an even keel, but performing at its top level.

Part of what I'm talking about is the practicalities of doing that like how do we do that? What are some techniques and strategies we can use to share information and what kind of information should we be sharing? Because every team and every project is different. Sometimes people will need lots of help with photos and sometimes people will need no help with photos so how to figure that out and then I'm also going to be talking about what parts of our own personalities are resistant to this work.

Sometimes sharing the strategic underpinnings of a project can feel a little bit like you're giving away a secret and that your power in the project comes from being the person that understands the overall vision. So what parts of our own personalities and organizational cultures we can tweak and we can learn to move through so we end up with stronger teams and better projects at the end.

Steve
That sounds great. I was actually on a call, Shannon and I both were this morning, with one of our clients talking through some of these issues and really helping to understand how their various content authors and team could support what they're trying to do because the documentation wasn't enough on its own. So, I'm really excited to hear this talk and thrilled that you're coming back to Vancouver to give that. Speaking of Vancouver, what are maybe some things that you're excited about coming back here and seeing this summer?

Eileen
Well, I am excited, I have a list. I'm excited about gelato because Vancouver has some amazing gelato and last time we were there, I don't even remember what flavors I got, it was like black sesame and a honey peppers, I don't even know. They were really delicious. They give you those little scoops where you get like 8 flavors. That's my kind of thing so definitely gelato. Also, last time we were there, we rented a tandem bike and rode around the sea wall which I feel like is not the kind of thing people who live in Vancouver do. I'm sure y'all go around the sea wall because it's cool but I don't think you probably rent tandem bikes from random bike stands at the edge of the park to do it and it was really fun, and also in the park, there's supposed to be a really, really great aquarium. I love fish, I love fish in cages and so I want to see a bunch of little fish in the aquarium.

Steve
It is, it is one of the top ten aquariums in the world. I believe it's ranked similar to the Monterey Aquarium in California.

Eileen
See, that's good, I like those kinds of things. So I'm excited for those things.

Steve
So you totally can do the tandem thing again and that sounds like a lot of fun, but Vancouver now has a bike share so you can grab a bike anywhere you want and cycle around so you don't even have to go to rental shops anymore unless you want tandems. There's no tandem bikes for the bike share.

Eileen
Tandem bikes are a special experience, it's a little more deffy than you're normal bike ride but also, you get some more adrenaline pumps because you're like oh lord, I'm tethered to another person with a large amount of machinery and sharp stuff between us, it's a bonding experience.

Steve
Yeah, I'm trying to picture some of the corners in Stanley Park but good for you, that's awesome.

Eileen
Yes.

Steve
Well, thanks Eileen for taking time to chat with us today and we're really excited to have you back out this July.

Eileen
Yeah, thanks for having me. I am excited to meet everyone and to see everyone and hear all the good talks and explore Vancouver.