How to win at being a Project Manager/Account Exec.

Thanks to Carbon’s personal development-allowance-scheme, I recently attended the Deliver Conference 2017 where I was able to meet like-minded people and join a community of people in digital, one I could really feel a part of.

For those of you who are not familiar with Deliver Conference, it’s a two-day project management workshop and conference, now in its fourth year.

I joined the event just for day 2, the conference itself. I wasn’t too sure what to expect at first, or whether the conference would really be right for me.

The conference is for people who strive to lead, inspire and deliver value with their teams, and although I hope I’m achieving all of these things, I still feel that I’m learning every day and worry whether I’m doing a good enough job!

But it turned out the conference was exactly what I needed, because I learnt that I’m not alone. Many of us are faced with the same difficulties and many of us encounter the same problems too – it’s how we learn to deal with them that makes us a good Project Manager and maybe we should give ourselves a pat on the back from time to time too.

The talks began at 9.30, each lasting around 35 minutes. It was really interesting because each talk was really different but also really relatable. My personal favourites were the lightening talks in the middle of the day.

Particularly, the talk by Rebecca Troth ‘Expectations, Presumptions, Pressure: Being A New Pm.’ As she spoke about her experiences being a new project manager in a digital agency, I found myself agreeing and could really engage in the serious points she was able to make in a light-hearted and fun way. Her presentation was ace too!
Her talk centred around something that I’d never heard of before – the Imposter Syndrome.

“Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.”

Not only did I find this interesting, but also really endearing in the way she spoke so openly about something I guess many of us – including myself – face, but never understood. By the end of the talk, I felt empowered and was able to take away some top tips I am hoping to put into practice in my next projects, top 5 being:
1. Learn from everyone
2. Happy team = happy client
3. Manage tasks – lead people
4. If you fail, fail fast and move on
5. Celebrate project completion

Another one of the talks I really enjoyed was Swiss born Saniha Ozem’s ‘My (quite long) journey to the backend dev peak and its hidden communication path’. She nailed it.

Her talk was about how her, and those alike (me) have been propelled into the digital world. Commonly known as the “non-techy’ people! Her talk was super sarcastic, super hilarious and poked a little fun at the developers. Plus, we were able to laugh at the new language we embark on when working for the first time in a Digital Agency, and the many different means we use to ask a question or tell something to someone. Sounds simple? No. As you learn when in an agency you can either tell this through a Basecamp message, or over a Slack channel, or through Trello or Github, or should we send an email? Actual talking, what’s that?

Jokes aside, it was really funny and also really helpful. Saniha came up with an awesome solution to help learn and understand this new language, and to avoid using words like ‘thing’ or ‘thingy’; by creating a Tech Glossary for Dummies. Sounds great?

One hiccup, it’s in French. But don’t worry. I have taken the liberty of pulling out our necessities and translating it in English and adding to it myself. No need to thank me.

Think of the site as a tree, and it has its branches (pages, subpages, etc.). If when you visit a site, you do not find the information you are looking for and you have to go to the sitemap to see where it might be, the site has been done badly! 😀

These are nice sketches that look like a comic book helping us to understand where we go when we’re going to make a movie, an animation, and so on.

User Tests
These are test sessions with users. Easy. A panel of users are called in, and they are asked to look up information on the site for example. Then we look at their search behaviour or navigation. If you want to redo your site and you wonder what works and what does not, this will be very useful.

User Flow
Each user on a site will search, read, walk in a diverse and varied way. The goal is to analyse their behaviour and classify them in groups, and also to define which group(s) will be the main users of the site. Often this flow will be that of a persona.

User Stories
This helps us to think of all the actions of all possible users on the site.

Removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality.

It is the architecture of the site without visual design, but with functionality. Knowing beforehand such a button and such information BEFORE design.

Dot per inch. This term is used to refer to the resolution of documents or rather of images. It is not so much the “weight” we are talking about, but the resolution, the number of points (or pixels in our case) per inch.

This is when we create a painting of desires, a style board! This then directs an agency to find out what styles a client likes or dislikes.

Style guide
It’s like a charter, a super document that explains a project: the colours, the typography to use, the logo, the patterns if there are any. Sometimes it’s a pavement. Sometimes it hardly exists.

It is a web server distributed under an open-source license …

It’s code, but code in the skeleton state and the server side, as opposed to the Front-end.

It’s code, but code that makes your site pretty. It is the skin and the beautiful dress on a skeleton.

It’s a framework, and they say they’re the most popular HTML, CSS and JS framework for developing responsive web projects.

When you say “I create a new branch” it means that you are going to create new features in this new branch. In Git for example, you are doing a new version of the project work. In this way you can return at any time to another branch and see the code in an unchanged state.

When you make a commit, you validate a pack of changes made in the files of a project.

One can deploy its wings, one can also deploy code. All of a sudden the code that we wrote on the machine comes to life on the internet, magic.

Device Lab
It’s a lab of devices. Basically a lab of devices must have all the possible devices to test its site on a Blackberry, a Tablet or an iPhone 3.

Domain Name System. Of course.

This is “File Transfer Protocol”. This concerns a server and this allows us to transfer files to a server.

It’s Facebook for Developers. Ok it’s more, but that’s not bad.
It is a multi-function platform. The first and most important is the project versioning. Otherwise it hosts projects, but has also developed a social network side, and finally it also serves as a tool for tracking bugs.

“Task runner” in NodeJS. It allows us to automate recurring tasks like compiling CSS, JS and refreshing the browser. All this via gulps modules. AND! Build style guides too!

Hyper Text Markup Language. So it’s a data presentation language. This code does not care about the look. A square to be coded will be a square to be coded, without any style!

Cascading Style Sheets. It’s also code. But this one, says to the previous one what it should look like. Kind of like, you will be a square with rounded edges and blue background. You will not be glued to the top left, but centered middle.

An issue is a problem. Simple as that.

The Internet Protocol (IP) is the method or protocol by which data is sent from one computer to another on the Internet.

JavaScript is also a programming language but magic, it does not need to converse with the server!

Merger is combining, affiliate! So you can merge your code with that of someone else or another period.

Hypertext Preprocessor. It is a programming language. Although, it is not a language comparable to HTML for example. HTML is concerned about how something will appear on your computer. The PHP, on the other hand, focuses on the server code (where the page you are going to, comes from). We need the 2 but not for the same reasons. “The PHP will take care of interpreting the data stored in a database on the server and send them as HTML to the browser, in the intrepid Internet user.”

Pull Request
To make a pull request is to make a request for contribution submission. You made changes, but since you are afraid that you have lost everything, which would be annoying, you submit your work so that it is reviewed before being integrated into the rest.

It’s a deposit. Of what? Of data. The dev’s would say ‘repo’.

Have you ever seen yourself “zooming” into a site to be able to read it on your mobile phone? Well a responsive site is designed so that this is not necessary. All websites should now be responsive.

Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets. This is a CSS preprocessor. This allows us to write a more readable and maintainable CSS code which will then be compiled in CSS. And above all it is Awesome!

This is the site before it is public, during the development phase. When it is in “staging” it can be accessed via a specific dedicated and protected address.

For all those embarking on a career in a Digital Agency, I hope this helps! And if you ever need a little reassurance that we’re all in the same boat, facing the same problems, then head to the next Deliver Conference and maybe I’ll see you there.