Each month zulily will talk with a developer and learn about a day in the life of a zulily engineer.
How long have you been with the company, Adam?
What is your exact role with the engineering organization?
“Software engineer” but my role is geared toward frontend development. I get the most enjoyment from working on customer facing code, so they keep me on projects like that. This typically means I am innovating on current features, prototyping new concepts, or evangelizing for new frontend technology.
What is a recent project you finished and launched to production?
I recently spent some time creating alternative shopping flows that help Mom understand and embrace our shopping experience; discover, purchase your item before it sells out; trigger free shipping for the rest of the day; keep exploring.
I recently came up with an idea about speeding up Mom’s perceived page load time by prefetching product images when she shows intent on clicking into an event, our name for curated groups of products. This was a cool example of coming up with an idea, getting the green light, and having it out for internal users within a couple of days.
Can you tell us about the tools you use on a daily basis?
For an IDE I’m a Sublime Text 3 user, I’m just addicted to the speed. The other half of my time is split between Chrome and iTerm 2 where I’m just shelling around and running git.
It is actually a lot less scary than it sounds, and is also very liberating to get rid of any layers that stand between ideation and getting to production.
I think there are a few tricks for this to really be successful though. You have to hire great developers. This means they trust their code, are familiar with edge cases, and will know that without a QA team they’ll need to test x, y, and z themselves. Hiring great developers leads us to respect each other, and also sets up an implicit trust between all of the developers. There is no second guessing each other’s work, or blaming each other when something goes wrong. When something goes wrong you can trust them to fix it, and usually the mistake has occurred for a good reason, so there aren’t any hard feelings about it.
What is your favorite part about working for zulily?
I really like working for a company that makes decisions based on data. zulily is a company of ideas, and an ecosystem to test and then act on all of these ideas.
I really like working for a company with a CEO that is present, interested in how we are innovating, and is humble enough to have frank conversations with employees at any level.
Geek us out and tell us about the nerdiest thing you’ve ever done in your life.
- I researched how to build a four foot trebuchet for an engineering project.
- I taught myself how to use 3d modeling software then proceeded to build part of my college campus on the Half-Life 2 engine.
- I’ve built 3 computers from parts.
- I created a font family based on my hand writing, I don’t think it would ever be trending on Google Fonts but it was a fun project.
- I’m working on rewriting the Bootstrap LESS files in Stylus in my free time.
What is one thing you are looking forward to, here at zulily?
I’m looking forward to seeing how zulily can challenge the e-commerce paradigm from a technology / ux perspective. We’ve challenged the mentality of shoppers by moving them from a search and buy context to more of an exploration and discovery model. I’m interested to see how we can transform a static browsing experience into something that is more active, intuitive, and tailored.
What type of folks do you hope would join the engineering team at zulily?
People who are good at table tennis; I need more competition.
On a more serious note though I love working with people who aren’t afraid to innovate or express their opinions, and have opinions, on the different features that come through them. At zulily developer time is recognized as an asset and if we are working on a feature we don’t believe in that is a double whammy because we are supporting a feature that we don’t have a stake in, and we could have been working on something that is cool.
We have a rich group of folks who understand embrace this mentality and are passionate about the features they work on. My hope is that we can maintain this piece of our culture as we continue to grow.