Even after working a full week back in the office, I think most of us are still struggling to get off island time. We’re sitting at our desks day-dreaming of Mai Tai’s, white sand, that time we almost fell off a cliff driving the truck, and late-night beach adventures. The view of the Standard Hotel from our office’s conference room just isn’t the same as the sweeping overlook of St. Thomas and Elephant Bay from our pool-side table.
Though clearly being on a remote island has its benefits, the real prizes were the prototypes we managed to build. Our red-bull fueled benders of staying up until 4am coding felt like cramming for finals, and instead of one massive scantron test we had a demo day with our founders Philippe and Justin.
When Philippe said, “This feels like Christmas morning,” I think we all let out a sigh of relief and congratulated ourselves on a job well done. Here’s what we came up with:
- A first-of-its-kind, interactive hub that allows R29 readers to feel like they’re right there with our editors at big events like New York Fashion Week. It includes a real-time social feed and the ability to experience galleries, videos and articles inline right on the page.
- A new mobile-web solution, including a major rethink of how to deliver slideshows for the small screen.
- The first re-imagining of the R29 home page that considers social, time and local geolocation as factors in content delivery.
- Functionality that can make any image instantly shoppable, tagged with videos like make-up tutorials, or whatever fun use we can imagine in the future.
Now post-island we’re going to be refining these prototypes and pushing them live. But in the end we think these tangible creations are really just evidence of what really happened on Water Island: we learned how to be a cohesive team. Refinery29 has grown so fast over the past 6 months (still growing!) that there have been some growing pains on the product side. Now we’ve bonded as a team and learned how to fuse both UX and development to work in tandem to create awesome tools and products that our users will love.
Fourteen coworkers, one house, one island, and zero fights or controversies. That’s kind of incredible.