Category Archives: Viget

What is Different about Copywriting at Digital Agencies?

We hope to hire a second creative copywriter at Viget soon, and I’ve been busy processing applicants. Ideally, all job candidates would have full awareness of what working here might be like. In this case, I want applicants to realize that being a copywriter at Viget is, in some ways, very different from being a copywriter at another creative agency, particularly at a more traditional ad agency.

The biggest reason for the difference, in my opinion, is that Viget is a digital agency with roots in software development. Since 1999, we’ve been solving problems for clients mostly by building things (clever, thoughtful, gorgeous things), first for the web and lately also for devices and physical objects. That history shapes our vocabulary, org chart, company culture, and relationships. 

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What’s In a Name: “Advisor” vs “Mentor”

Developer Advisor, Chris Jones, left. Developer Intern, Athif Wulandana, right. 

One core commitment we make to interns when they join Viget each summer is:

“You’ll work closely with an Advisor.”

Almost five years into our program, I’d say that the Intern-Advisor relationship has become the central defining characteristic of our program. Time and again, I hear interns say, “I chose Viget because I knew I’d get paired with an Advisor.”

Here’s how it works. Each intern is assigned a single Advisor for the summer; each Advisor is a full-time staff member and specialist in the intern’s chosen field. The Advisor serves as a teacher, committed to transmitting her knowledge and expertise to the intern, usually developing a professional relationship with the intern along the way. In most cases, our Advisors become the intern’s first significant professional contact in our industry.

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A Google Analytics Dashboard for Front-End Developers

Say you’re a front-end developer who is building a great new website. As you plan out your platform and resources, you probably have some questions about how people are using the existing website so you can prioritize important features and make sure your new site works well for everyone. Data like common devices and screen sizes are very useful for this and can be collected by most analytics platforms, including Google Analytics. Data from Google Analytics is useful after launch, as well: with the proper setup, you can track data like page load times, JavaScript errors, and common input methods.

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Get Lazy with Custom Enumerators

Ruby 2.0 added the ability to create custom enumerators and they are bad ass. I tend to group lazy evaluation with things like pattern matching and currying – super cool but not directly applicable to our day-to-day work. I recently had the chance to use a custom enumerator to clean up some hairy business logic, though, and I thought I’d share.

Some background: our client had originally requested the ability to select two related places to display at the bottom of a given place detail page, one of the primary pages in our app. Over time, they found that content editors were not always diligent about selecting these related places, often choosing only one or none. They requested that two related places always display, using the following logic:

  1. If the place has published, associated places, use those;
  2. Otherwise, if there are nearby places, use those;
  3. Otherwise, use the most recently updated places.

Straightforward enough. An early, naïve approach:

def associated_places
    (associated_place_1 if associated_place_1.try(:published?)),
    (associated_place_2 if associated_place_2.try(:published?)),

But if a place does have two associated places, we don’t want to perform the expensive call to nearby_places, and similarly, if it has nearby places, we’d like to avoid calling recently_updated_places. We also don’t want to litter the method with conditional logic. This is a perfect opportunity to build a custom enumerator:

def associated_places do |y|
    y << associated_place_1 if associated_place_1.try(:published?)
    y << associated_place_2 if associated_place_2.try(:published?)
    nearby_places.each { |place| y << place }
    recently_updated_places.each { |place| y << place }

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Naming My Tech Values

When you think about technology, what matters to you? Not to your company, or to the industry, and certainly not to the media. But to you, as an individual who works and builds on the web—what do you value?

In its current state, the web is overflowing with ideas. Everyone has a voice and the collective conversation is loud, noisy, and often conflicting. Filtering it, identifying the ideas worth believing, is the ultimate challenge. For me, doing so requires naming what I value and what I don't.

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