Product and Engineering Wisdom - Issue #5

Tips and advice on the importance of common language in digital

free fortnightly email that highlights the relevant tips, advice, and case studies from the world of product and engineering for the SEO community.

Hello 👋,

It’s Thursday, which means another issue of product and engineering wisdom.

In this issue we’re got some great case studies and tips from both product and engineering about the importance of “common language”.

If you’re interested in real-world case studies on how product and engineering teams use common language to improve user experience, I recommend reading post of the sprint How Wix improved website performance or Why DWP Digital speak their users’ language.

Stay safe and enjoy.


⚡Post of the Sprint

How Wix improved website performance

by Alon Kochba, Wix

A web performance case study by Alon Kockba a backend tech lead at Wix.

In this case study Alon goes into detail about the changes Wix has made to improve page experience for millions of sites built in Wix.

Adam’s Insight: This is a brilliant and very detailed case study on improving web performance.

I really like this article as it also highlights the key business impact of site speed and the need for ubiquitous language when tackling this subject.

SEOs focus on the ranking factor of Core Web Vitals but the real value of these metrics is they help reduce friction between teams when discussing how to improve and measure site speed.

I highly recommend any technical SEO or SEO specialist reading this case study.


Content design and Universal Credit

by Claire Perry, UK Government DWP Digital

In this case study Claire Perry, a Content Designer, discusses how she helped users have the best user experience when using the Universal Credit (UC) service.

Adam’s Insight: Product teams are constantly iteratively improve on user experience through customer feedback, analytics and business data.

One aspect of user experience that isn’t thought about a lot in SEO is content design. What is content design? Claire defines it as:

“Content design is answering a user need in the best way for the user to consume it.”

This particular case study shows the use of customer feedback, digital analytics and internal data to identify user pain points for a service. The steps taken to understand customers is very common in the product community and its great to see it being used to help with government services.

I highly recommend this case study if you’re wanting to improve the content and design on your website.

Why we speak our users’ language

by Jo Schofield, UK Government DWP Digital

In this case study Jo Schofield, Content Designer, talks about the importance of understanding and speaking the language of users when developing services.

Adam’s Insight: Successful product teams spend a lot of time speaking to customers and understanding their journey and pain points using user journey mapping techniques.

The content design team at DWP Digital use these same techniques to focus time and resource on making sure the services use words that are understood by users.

This is a fantastic read for any SEO or content specialist who wants to better understand how to improve the user experience of a website.

The Product Strategy Stack

by Ravi Mehta and Zainab Ghadiyali, Reforge

In this article Ravi (Ex-Tinder, Facebook, Tripadvisor) and Zainab (Ex-Facebook, Airbnb), both senior product experts, talk through their concept of The Product Strategy Stack.

Adam’s Insight: I would highly recommend grabbing a coffee and putting on your thinking cap before reading this article.

Strategy is critical for successful product teams and this article goes into great detail on how product teams can use The Product Strategy Stack to win. They provide case studies from Facebook, Airbnb, Slack and Discord.

A lot of the points in this article are very much relevant to SEO, for example:

Difficulty prioritizing is often a strategy issue, not an execution issue.

This problem not only affects prioritization but also manifests in other hard to diagnose ways: muddied UX, miscommunication within teams, lack of coordination across teams, diminishing returns, product-market fit saturation, and negative impact on team morale. In many cases, these execution issues are the symptom of gaps in strategic thinking.

If you’re an SEO Strategist or Director/Head of SEO this is a great article on the issues of execution from very experienced product specialists.


Fighting Misinformation with Machine Learning

by Vishwakarma Singh, Pinterest

Vishwakarma Singh, a Software Engineer Lead at Pinterest, talks through how the company uses machine learning to fight hate speech and misinformation.

Adam’s Insight: The results of the machine learning technology speaks for itself:

“Using machine learning models to automatically detect unsafe content before it’s reported, policy-violating content reports per impression have declined by 52% since the fall of 2019, when the technology was introduced. And, since April 2019, reports for self-harm content have decreased by 80%.”

This is a great example of engineering identifying a pain point and using ML to build a solution. Notice that they also measure the impact of the technology on user behaviour and solving a real user problem.

This is a great post for any SEO Specialist interested in peaking behind the curtain and wanting to learn how machine learning can help keep a platform safe.

Migrating Websockets to Envoy

by Ariane van der Steldt and Radha Kumari,  Slack

Ariane and Radha, software engineers and Slack, both discuss in detail a technology migration (it isn’t a website migration before you get excited).

Adam’s Insight: This is great case study if you’re interested in better understanding why engineers update technology and how they do it.

As a Product Manager at DeepCrawl, I sat in many meetings where different engineering teams explained why they needed to improve technology to support product growth. It’s quite common and I always found it interesting.

I’d recommend reading this if you’re a technical SEO or SEO specialist working directly with development teams (or you’re just interested in how slack works).


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