A Day in the Life at GS&F: Interactive Development Team

Behind the scenes at GS&F, our interactive team works to build web experiences backed by strategic audience insights, user-friendly design, and powerful copy and visuals. But how do those experiences come to life in the day-to-day?

Each week, the team works on everything from small site adjustments to app development, new website design and more. For example, the team’s work with A. O. Smith involves the ongoing building of an original app, while the work with Music City Grand Prix might call for a full website launch. In between there’s website maintenance, landing page launches and much more.

We caught up with Interactive Developers John Lea, Gabrielle Epstein and Meyer McMains to see what their days on the dev team look like.

John Lea

Gabrielle Epstein

Meyer McMains

Planning the Week Ahead

 The team’s week begins with a sprint planning meeting on Monday morning bringing together all 15 members of the interactive team—and coffee, of course.

“We have representatives from account management and user experience alongside the dev team,” Epstein says. “We look at our schedules together and discuss what each person’s priorities are. We make sure we put a hand up if we need help on something.”

“It’s a planned collaborative effort to make sure everyone’s on the same page,” McMains adds. The team has a 50,000-foot view of their work so they view each week’s assignments in context, discussing immediate needs and how they fit in amid major upcoming projects and launches.

Next, a daily team standup for the development team helps this smaller group of seven align on each day’s slate of work—and have a bit of fun.

“It’s been a bigger deal with everyone working remote,” McMains says. “You don’t necessarily need a standup in the same way when you’re working in person.”

“Half the meeting usually ends up with us chatting,” Epstein adds. “It’s a really close team, and it’s nice to see everyone every day.”

Navigating the Work Together

For the dev team, working together is not only expected—it’s critical to producing great work. “We know each other pretty well and work really well together,” Epstein says. “We help each other all the time.”

One way the team collaborates is through rubber duck debugging—a concept in which a team member explains their work in words to another teammate in order to solve a problem they’ve encountered. They’ll hop on a call to get fresh eyes on the issue—sometimes it’s a typo, sometimes it’s a major logical misstep. Sometimes it’s a two-minute call—sometimes it’s two hours. But regardless, the team stands ready to put their heads together when needed.

Approaching the Unexpected as a Team

With web experiences, unexpected issues come up occasionally after a launch. Whether a server is down or a component isn’t working, the team has to come together to solve the problem quickly without significant interruptions.

“Depending on what happens, anyone on the team can jump in to help out,” Lea says. “Usually there’s a core set of people involved—those most familiar with the project—and the team gets on a call to work together to check things out.”

Determining who leans in for the solve itself “comes down to which developers have the specific skillset for the issue,” Lea adds. “It’s a combination of client knowledge and the skills we need to solve the problem.”

McMains adds that many experiences the team builds rely on the same technology, so many people can contribute when an issue comes up. “They’ll know how the technology works, so even if they don’t have the same history with the client they can still help out.”

Heads Down Development

While some weeks involve many ongoing projects at once, often the team enjoys extended times of deep work. With the help of interactive account managers, they’re careful about protecting their time so they can dig in and reach the answers their clients are relying on them to provide.

Lea’s work involves a bit more emailing and chatting because quick changes frequently land on his plate. But on the whole the dev team’s work takes deep concentration, which dictates the majority of their days.

Staying Curious Every Day

Staying curious is a core value at GS&F, and all of our teams work to practice curiosity regularly. But for the dev team, it’s just part of the job.

“The nature of what we do is that everything can change daily,” Lea reflects. “You may wake up and the language that you’ve used for years has a big update with new things to learn. If something breaks, you have to research to find out what’s going on. With what we do, staying curious is baked in.”

“There’s not a single day on the job where I don’t learn something,” Epstein adds. “I keep a ‘today I learned’ document on my computer. Looking back over time, it’s amazing to see the growth.”

For the dev team, part of growth involves a regular practice of giving and receiving feedback. “When we submit code, it doesn’t go live until two other developers review it and offer constructive feedback,” explains Epstein. “That’s a great way to learn and help each other out. I learn a lot from the feedback I get and from giving feedback to others.”

McMains also notes that the team learns by refining processes that they find tedious or clunky. “If you’re annoyed by something, you’re naturally going to try to make it more elegant and useable,” he says.

The Dev Team at its Core

“This job is, at its core, problem-solving,” says Epstein.

“And problem-creating,” Lea notes with a laugh. “You solve one and a new one pops up.”

With the rest of the development team, Epstein, Lea and McMains work daily to solve problems for their clients in web experiences that help build each brand, offering a meaningful touchpoint for the audience. Backed by years of experience with many clients at GS&F, the team is eager to take on new projects and to keep learning along the way.

Getting inspired? Chat with our team to see how we can partner with you to create interactive experiences that bring your brand to life.

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