Web Product Manager
Webbie Gibson makes her way into the office by 10 am. Yeah, she gets to sleep in a touch, but she doesn’t get to clock out at 5:30, so… six of one, half dozen of the other.
She is employed by an ad agency that is hired by such companies as Wipewell Wipers – a company that sells windshield wiper mountings for large trucks. Oh yeah – it’s just as exciting as it sounds. Regardless of the product, however, Webbie does derive enjoyment and fulfillment from the challenge of having to find a way to paint boring stuff in an interesting or attention-grabbing light. What’s attention-grabbing about wiper mountings? Good question. Such is Webbie’s current dilemma.
The owner of the company in question – Walter Wipewell – is an older gentleman who was already set in his ways when that pesky internet sprung up, seemingly just to make things tough on him. He doesn’t get Facebook or Twitter, he doesn’t know how to make one website link back to another, or how to increase traffic. In fact, he thinks Microsoft is a prescription medication for poorly endowed men with ED.
He barely understands the concept of “likes,” but it has been explained to him that they are a good thing. Therefore, he has promised Webbie a bonus if she can get 100,000 likes for Wipewell Wipers.
She has an 11:00 meeting with Walter, and the two sit down to discuss his latest needs.
Walter looks grumpy, which is nothing new.
“I still don’t understand why we need to do this. I could just keep putting flyers under people’s windshield wipers, like I used to.”
“It’s not the way the world works anymore, Walter.”
“Yes, but… flyers for a windshield wiper company left under windshield wipers. Can you appreciate the irony?”
“I… I can appreciate it. But you want as many people to know about your business, right? More people means more money?”
“Yeah, yeah. Okay, so what now?”
“Well, I wanted to talk to you about the functionality of your site as is, and what we can do to improve it. Let’s take a look at what we’re working with…”
Webbie pulls up www.wipewellwipers.com. Her “w” finger is already tired.
The site is amateurishly done – exactly the reason Webbie has been called in to help. On the right side of the screen is Walter, holding up a windshield wiper and looking grumpy, as always. On the left side of the screen is a bare bones menu of options, including “Buy wipers,” “Find our stores,” and “Contact my son.”
“Contact my son, Walter?”
“Yeah, well… I don’t want them bothering me.”
“Okay. Look, here’s what we’re going to do. First of all, we’re going to streamline this page and give it a clean, fresh look. You’ve got blinding reds and greens everywhere… we’re going to switch those out for a more sedated color scheme. No matter where you are on the site, there will be an easily navigable row of buttons up top so that the user can return to the homepage, or visit any other page just as quickly. If you still want to be pictured on the homepage, that’s fine, but we’re going to get a professionally taken photo of you and not make it such a… focal point. You’re missing out on a lot of space to convey information about your company here. Make sense?”
“You lost me at homepage.”
Once Webbie is done dealing with Walter, she has a video conference with Lefty Lyons, a liberal politician who is currently running for city councilman. Lefty knows his way around the internet – he knows what he likes when he sees it, but he has trouble verbalizing what he wants.
Webbie pulls up some PowerPoint slides with rough sketches of what she envisions for Lefty’s site (she has already pow-wowed with him about concepts in a previous meeting), and runs them by him. He loves everything she shows him. Webbie appreciates how easy he is to work with. Nothing like the last politician she worked with, Righty O’Reilly.
After grabbing a quick lunch, Webbie spends the rest of her afternoon working on the biggest, most important (read: lucrative) project currently on her plate. She is helping Burger King run a web lottery. For a limited time, they are putting golden tickets inside some of their hamburgers. (Look before you eat.) Anyone who is lucky enough to receive one of these tickets gets a free tour of the factory, where they can see the pink slime up close and personal. You also get free burgers for life…which won’t be much longer if all you do is eat Burger King burgers for the rest of it.
Webbie snazzes up the site with one of her designers. She instructs him about how each page should look, what elements should be animated and how, and in what way the pages should be organized.
By the time she’s done for the day, the website looks good enough to eat.