Experience | June 08, 2021

Shaping the DevExp Team, a One Year, Non-Serious, Retrospective

In June 2020 I joined Prismic to create its Developer Experience team. It's now been a year, we accomplished a lot, and still have a lot more to do!

Shaping the DevExp Team, a One Year, Non-Serious, Retrospective

It's not a secret that I'm still a student, although not for much longer now. One of the things I quite like where I'm studying is that we get a lot of opportunities to do internships while attending school. Some of you might even have read about my time at Société Générale (French multinational bank) back in 2019.

In 2020 I got the chance to do another internship. For the sake of that, I somehow managed to join Prismic to create its Developer Experience team (What could possibly go wrong?) Today it's been a year to the day so I figured out writing an update might be interesting. During this year, apart from working on the developer experience at Prismic, we had two side goals: the first one being to actually learn our job, the second to grow our team.

Just before starting, in case this wasn't obvious, I'm writing that on a Sunday so this post is definitely not an ad about Prismic. It's a retrospective of what we managed to achieve within one year of creating a team there!

Learning How to Developer Experience

Well, you know the caption that comes along with this meme:

I don't know what I'm doing dog meme

That was us at the beginning. I'm saying "us" because thankfully Prismic people weren't completely crazy as to let me alone when I joined. That's why we started things as a team of two with Nouha, who has more of a marketing profile. However, Nouha nor I had prior "real" experience regarding... developer experience when we started everything. We were off to a rough start! So to learn our job, we took the approach of trying a lot of things. From here we then evaluated and learned where we had a positive impact on our goals, and kept things going.

For example, some (few) of you might remember the short stories I used to share on Twitter. This one was meant to showcase what you can achieve with Prismic and Slice Machine. It was also trying to create a friendly point of contact with the community. It got a bit of traction at some point. The format also shifted to something more educational. Eventually, it evolved to other kinds of approaches, one of them led us to organize a contest by the end of the year. To some minor extent, it still lives today through the shows Alex is now doing on Twitch each week.

We did a lot of experiments like that. Thanks to them today we became way more confident about what we do and what our team actually covers within the company. This is also great because, while chaotic at the beginning, I feel like the understanding of what our team is doing has nicely improved across the other teams internally.

Moving on, we have plenty of ideas to make the experience better for developers using Prismic. For that matter, we are working on really interesting projects ranging from enhancing our open-source kits to creating shows on YouTube and Twitch.

Growing Our Team

Creating a team involves defining how this team works. It also implies making it grow! We were lucky (I think?) not to have budget issues regarding that process. But with only Nouha and me in the team, hiring people quickly became an important topic for two reasons:

The first one being that the main technology we're supporting at Prismic is JavaScript. The thing with JavaScript is that there's a ton of frameworks to know about. That's because no one knows how to manipulate DOM anymore and frameworks' maintainers, the few ones that still know, are all opinionated on how to do it for others (I'm kidding.) Anyway, in that world, I know Vue.js pretty well. Sadly Nouha stated that I'm not convincing enough for everyone to make the switch. I cried. And while I know how to write JSX, don't talk to me about hooks. In short, we needed people to help our team to cover better the React developer experience at Prismic. Indeed, React and Vue accounts for the main part of our JavaScript users so having people that know those frameworks well was important.

The second reason is that calling our team the "Developer Experience team" is not completely accurate. Indeed we're taking care of the experience developers have but we also have under our scope developer relations and developer advocacy. Whatever are your definitions for those, they involve a lot of things to do with a lot of different skills. On that topic, I like that at Prismic we really take care of letting people work on what they like to work on. From here we try to hire people that like to work on other kinds of things. This way we're able to cover everything that our team needs to cover, with everyone being able to do their best on things they like to work on.

With those two points in mind, we went through a lot of interviews. Today I'm happy to see that we're now a team of five. Among us, three are specialized in React, and I think we have a decent mix of tastes regarding what we like to focus our energy on! Finally, our team is still meant to grow: I'm definitely looking forward to having a Vue.js colleague, and Nouha made some pretty ambitious hiring plans for the rest of 2021.

Making Cool Things With the Community

With those two important goals handled, to me one of our main highlights from this year is all the things we did with our community.

I remember from day 1 Nouha suggested I message Maya Shavin because she was then interested in Prismic (I even sent her swag later on: she was working on an article about us that is still yet to be published. She instead entered our contest. Love you Maya!). I also remember that time when we were handling our booth at the Jamstack Conf. We stayed up until 2am at the office because there were still people to discuss with us. I have a really nice memory of it. There were also the two contests we ran. Thanks again to all the people who entered submitting their beautiful work!

Beyond that, we also did tons of live streams! I joined most of our Product Meetups. I hosted some streams with Tim Benniks and Samuel Horn af Rantzien, two great ambassadors of Prismic. I also had the opportunity to guest Debbie O'Brien, James Q Quick, Jason Lengstorf, and Lee Robinson's own streams. Aside from me, I don't even count the number of guests my colleague Alex had on his streams since he joined. You're killing it! Funny enough when it comes to livestreaming I'm still so shy of it! Yet, I'm thankful people are pushing me in our team to join or host some because I'm definitely having a blast each time~

Finally, a lot of work also happened on GitHub with the community through the many RFCs we pushed there. It's always a pleasure and really insightful to discuss opinions and experiences our users have on those. While anecdotic at the beginning, writing RFCs is becoming more and more a natural thing for both our team and the product team we're working closely with. If that's your thing you can stay tuned to Prismic's Twitter for more.

Collaborating with our community is something I'm enjoying a lot as a DevExp Engineer at Prismic. Moving forward, I know we also have some pretty exciting things coming up to further strengthen that relationship. Onward and upward!

Back to the Future!

And, that's pretty much it! Before talking about the future, I just want to say that I'm really proud of what our team achieved since its creation one year ago. I'm also really proud of what we're working on now.

In May we announced that Prismic raised $20 million. One of the reasons we raised that money is because we were seeing a lot of opportunities internally, but we were lacking bandwidth to work on all of them. Now that we have the funds to work toward our ambitions it makes me even more excited about what we are planning to work on in our team. I also can't wait to see our team continue to grow. As for me, I still see myself at Prismic for the foreseeable future.

And that's all! I hope it was somewhat interesting to read~ If you have any questions or comments hit me up on Twitter, thanks for reading!

Ombrellone Blue
A painting by
Maurizio Vago
Posted on June 12, 2021
Thanks to a submission from @pigroz