We’re Hiring Again.

Dave and Polly recently talked about our how we’re looking for lots of talented digital people to join us  @CoopDigital.

We’re now looking for some more people to join Dave’s digital engineering team:

Service Manager
Service Analyst
Principal Engineer
Principal Developer
Principal Architect

Follow the links to find out more and apply. If you have any questions about any of the roles you can either comment on the blog or find us @CoopDigital.

 

Rapid Prototyping with Atomic Design

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Atomic Design is a methodology developed by Brad Frost which, in Brad’s words, is used to construct web design systems. With the increasing movement in front-end/UI development towards building libraries of components, rather than pages, Atomic Design provides a very robust and flexible means of establishing a pattern library that serves as both a front-end framework and a comprehensive style guide for the web.

This is by no means a technical guide (I’m really not very good at writing techie stuff), just an overview of how we’ve been using this approach, and how it’s helped us.

Establishing colours, typefaces etc for the pattern library (or Pattern Lab) was done with a variety of tools and is part of a wider branding project, but when it comes to prototyping, we work primarily in the browser. We find it’s the quickest way of getting something tangible that we can show to others (Show The Thing™), and having a Pattern Lab in place means we can quickly and easily put prototypes together that have a consistent look and feel.

Using Handlebars.js together with Assemble, we built up a library of components that can be combined to form any number of different layouts. This approach really comes into its own when iterating over layouts, with variations of modules or organisms. Finding out, for example, which version of your header prototypes works best with a particular template can be as simple as changing a version number in your template file.

Our Pattern Lab is definitely a work in progress, and going forward it will most likely change shape significantly as we encounter real world design/development problems that we didn’t encounter when creating the components in isolation. But in these early stages, being able to prototype different combinations of ideas so quickly and easily has been a great way of getting things off the ground.

Head in the clouds…

Have you ever heard someone say “you’ve got your head in the clouds”?  Well that was me – literally – yesterday.  I work as a UI designer/developer at the Co-operative in a growing Digital team based on the 11th floor of 1 Angel Square and while the rest of Manchester struggled with the gloom of the fog, we were almost illuminated by it.  I’ve only been with the Co-op for a month or so and am still amazed by my workplace – this unique and innovative building feels like the right place to be as we continue our digital transformation.

Angel Meadows, a hidden gem!
Angel Meadows, a hidden gem!

To say it is exciting times at the moment may be understating it and to not just work for the Co-op but be a part of it as a member adds an extra dimension.  I’m not just working for the company; I’m working for the members – you, me and everyone that has joined this historic establishment on the way.

A fantastic employer

In Manchester the Co-op has always had a fantastic reputation as an employer and as one of its newest employees I can vouch for it – the people are welcoming, loyal – working hard and always wanting to be the best.  My workplace environment, the equipment, (for starters on my first day a brand spanking new Mac Book Pro was waiting for me), tools to help me ‘do a better job’ never mind the ‘little things’ that make coming to work that little bit easier, it’s clear for me to see that the Co-op puts it’s staff at the heart of who it is and what it wants to be and who wouldn’t want to be part of that.

NUX4
Co-op sent me to NUX4!

The history that surrounds the Co-op means that I’m proud to say that I work for them and even prouder and more excited to be part of its future.

Oh and a little bit about me…

I have a passion for designing and developing websites.  I’ve done this professionally for the last 15 years, cutting my teeth working for fast paced design agencies after starting off self employed to build my portfolio.  Along the way I’ve designed some big sites, the Citizens Advice and Advice Guide websites for example; I transformed the checkouts and subsequent conversion rates for N Brown’s group of e-commerce fashion brands by turning a 10 step multi page process into a 1 page responsive checkout.  Almost without realising it I transformed from a website designer to a designer that codes in the browser and right now, here at the Co-op, it feels like this could be my greatest challenge but I know we’ll achieve all we set out to do together.

Anything could happen

So – back to having my head in the clouds – it feels like anything could happen and any idea could be the one that really changes, improves and moves the Co-op to its next phase – I can’t wait to be part of it – what about you?

I’ll be writing regular blogs about UI design/development and my Co-op journey, find me on twitter @uxeskimo.

Work hard, have fun, make a difference… Join us at Angel Square…

Digital Designer wanted

Hello, me again.Image of Ben Rieveley

I mentioned that there’d be more jobs coming soon, well here’s another great opportunity to join our growing band of digital co-operators.

Our ambition is bold: to re-create the Co-operative for a digital era, and demonstrate a different way of doing business for an increasingly connected community. To achieve this we need to ensure the visual impact of our digital services communicates our brand whilst meeting our users’ needs.

Photo of Co-op Design Studio team

We need you to produce, creative, coherent and consistent design across all digital channels for our family of businesses. You’d be joining our Manchester based design studio and support the Digital team by providing the visual design that helps us communicate our message and deliver a truly user-centric service to our customers online.

If you are a naturally creative person with a keen sense of business context this could be the job for you. You’ll need to be passionate but not precious, a collaborator with the confidence to present and explain ideas to both the digital team and colleagues throughout the business.

If you’re interested then take a closer look on our jobs board and submit your CV.

Have a great weekend!

Ben

Find me on twitter @barthelmess 

We’re hiring!

Image of Ben Rieveley

Hi, I’m Ben 2 (there’s 3 of us), I work in the Co-op Digital Team and have done since it was a team of one.

I have a huge passion for the Co-op and have always believed that it has immense potential in the new digital world we can be as pioneering as we were back in 1844 (I joined a couple of years later).

With our new digital leadership team we have just turned a massive corner and are about take big steps towards realising our potential. There’s much to do and to do it we need talent. We have talent but we need more. So we are immediately looking for a User Researcher to join us.

We need someone to help build a clear picture of our users and generate new and useful user insights that will allow us to iteratively improve the service for our users.

Are you experienced in using a variety of user testing methodologies to reveal actionable customer insights? Do you have  excellent analytical and problem solving skills with the ability to quickly develop recommendations based on quantitative and qualitative evidence? Are you confident in explaining user needs to colleagues outside of the digital team, and can act as a persuasive advocate for those needs across the whole business?

The Co-operative Support Centre, Angel Square, Manchester

Do you want to be part of transforming this iconic organisation, working in this awesome building in Manchester?

Then take a look at our jobs board and submit your CV today.

Good luck!

Ben

p.s. If this isn’t the job for you, keep your eye on this blog as there’s more to come…

Find me on twitter @barthelmess

Hello from the world of Social & Digital Engagement

Gail Lyon (so you know what I look like)

Gail Lyon (so you know what I look like)

My history with the Co-op goes back a long time, a really long time – in fact if it wasn’t for the Co-op I wouldn’t have been born. My Mum and Dad met across a crowded dance floor in the now sadly demolished Helena House in St Helens at a Co-op dance. My Dad’s first job was at the Co-op – he went from wrapping meat in brown paper to having his own store and so it felt like fate when 3 years ago I was approached to join the group.

Helena House - Image courtesy of Geolocation
Helena House – Image courtesy of Geolocation

I am results junkie – I love seeing an instant reaction, that’s why I guess I love social media so much, and why I ultimately ended up making a career out of it. I started my working life at BT, after a couple of years I went to Siemens to set up their telemarketing operation and then moved into marketing, where I did every job under the sun from product management to proposition development – chasing a job where I could see the results of my work immediately. I became impatient with direct mail, advocated the use of email and the wondrous world wide web. Finally I ended up with responsibility globally for their digital and social presence.

And so back to today – I’m the Group Social Media and Digital Engagement Lead for the Co-op – and I can honestly say I LOVE my job – why? Well, I work with the most amazing group of individuals – smart, passionate, kind, caring, co-operative with boundless energy – wanting to make a difference and get stuff done.

I’ve had the opportunity to build a strategy and an approach to social media from the ground up with the aim to turn the Co-op into a social organisation, with social integrated seamlessly throughout. We’ve gone from a team of 3 to a team of 10, covering both internal and external campaigns (paid and organic), content creation and community management. We developed the first UK retail Snapchat campaign which was named by Campaign Magazine as one of the top 10 digital innovations, was short-listed at Cannes Lions plus we were awarded best use of social media at the e-commerce awards for a Twitter campaign for our electrical business.

I love being able to have an idea and do something about it – a perfect example of this is how to connect our store managers quickly, simply with no cost – what was our solution – WhatsApp. Something easy to use, roll out and perfect for our disparate employees. On launch day we saw over 3,000 messages, images and videos, in the trial area we saw double digit sales growth – all because colleagues could connect, talk, bond and share. I’ll save the details for a later blog – but need to credit Jordan our Senior Community Manager for making the idea a reality.

And now it gets even better, what more could a digital professional ask for – we have a leader in Mike Bracken with an exciting vision of how the Co-op can be a pioneer again in a digital age, I feel beyond excited and privileged to be a part of it.

If you want to say hello you can find me on Twitter @gailtwist (Twist’s my married name in case you were wondering)

Digital Talent, Co-op Digital

mike-bracken-009

I’m Mike Bracken, Chief Digital Officer for the Co-operative. This is a new blog, designed to start a conversation about our digital future.  Our aim in digital is to be open, agile and have a relentless focus on members – existing ones and new ones.

We are here to make the Co-operative a world-leading digital player as we continue our rebuild phase. Our ambition is bold: to re-create the Co-operative for a digital era, and demonstrate a different way of doing business for an increasingly connected community.

To achieve this, we will need to build on our position of trust with our members, create teamwork around a commitment to digital excellence, and continue to develop and attract the best digital skills.

The internet was made for co-operation and that starts with how we communicate with our millions of existing members. That starts with small steps like communicating online and saving over £500,000 in sending letters out twice a year.

In my brief time in Manchester I have been hugely impressed by the teams in place and the work already underway: Helen Carroll and her team on brand and marketing, Dave Johnson who is leading the technology delivery for the Meaningful Membership scheme along with architects like Danielle Haugedal-Wilson, and Paul Morris and the digital and social teams.

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Colleagues starting the conversation about user needs

I am yet to properly meet several teams – such as Membership and Data and Insight – but will do so over the next few weeks and then look at our organisational set-up in November. I have spent much of my time with teams in the businesses – Funeral care in Rochdale, Food in Liverpool and St Helens – and I’ve been hugely impressed by their relentless focus on our members and customers. We have to match that focus in our digital operations, both at Group and in the businesses.

Wherever I have gone I have always looked to help support and develop existing teams – and add new skills to the mix. To that end let me introduce some people:

Russell Davies is joining us today as Digital Strategy Director, Tom Loosemore is our new Digital Services Director and Ben Terrett has joined as Group Design Director, and Mat Wall is working with the team to review our digital and data architecture.

Mat Wall is a leading technology architect, with experience in Government, The Guardian, Sony and elsewhere. He has been working with web technology since the 1990s and has delivered a number of large scale web sites. He started before me, and is working with Dave, Michael and the membership team, and also across the Technology Organisation.

Russell will lead in defining digital strategy for the whole Group – integrating our approach to communications, vision, loyalty, brand and membership. Russell’s spent the last twenty years working out what should happen when brands and services meet the internet, delivering industry-leading projects for people like Honda, Microsoft, Nike and the London Olympics. He’s also a Contributing Editor for Wired Magazine.

Tom will be responsible creating a world-class digital services unit at the centre of the Co-operative Group. He brings twenty years’ experience of digital product management, strategy and transformation at the BBC, Channel 4 and OFCOM. He was a founder of civic tech charity mySociety.

Ben will build a first-rate design and brand capability inside the Co-operative Group. He is a recognised leader within the design industry delivering outstanding and innovative work for Nike, The Guardian and Wieden+Kennedy. Ben is also a governor at the University of the Arts London and sits on the London Design Festival Advisory Board.

Together, Ben, Tom, Russell, Mat and I founded the Government Digital Service. With our colleagues there, and across government, we delivered GOV.UK, saved billions for the taxpayer, won the Design of the Year Award and – most importantly –  delivered substantially improved services for millions of people.

We’re used to working as a team so we hope it won’t take us long to get up and going.

This group brings extraordinary skills and experience to the Co-op, and I’m delighted that we’ve persuaded them to join us, but they won’t be the last brilliant digital people we’ll bring in. If you’re interested in creating fantastic digital services with co-operative values keep an eye on this blog. We’ll be looking for help.
Watch this space for more news. I’ll be blogging regularly about our digital progress. My personal blog is at www.mikebracken.com, and I’m @MTBracken on Twitter.