Interview: How Sprout Social use Atomic

Bradley Simpson
bradley@atomic.io

Based in Chicago, IL, Justin Siddons works as a product designer currently focused on mobile at Sprout Social. The team is responsible for the end to end user experience of our native mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Justin approached us in August 2015 after trying a lot of other prototyping tools. Drawn in by the ability to use Atomic for granular mobile interactions as well as static prototypes, Justin was eager to try Atomic in his workflow.

Here’s what Justin had to say about how he and the mobile team at Sprout Social have solved the pain points of their workflow, using Atomic.

Being able to draw prototypes right inside Atomic quickly without having to prep imagery is a huge plus. Without committing to any design specifics I can get a feel for what a certain interaction feels like before we move into the bigger design stages.

Tell us a bit about what role you play at Sprout Social. How big is the company? How many designers, developers, and product managers are you collaborating with?

Sprout Social is a social media management company that employs just over 200 people. I belong to an extremely talented design team who handles everything from product, to brand and marketing. Currently my focus is on our mobile squad which includes myself the designer, a product manager, 4 engineers and a QA analyst. Our team is responsible for our native iOS and Android mobile apps.

What are your thoughts on the importance of collaborative prototyping?

Collaboration is a large part of what helps make our team effective.

Collaboration is a large part of what helps make our team effective. With Atomic I can experiment with new interactions to get immediate feedback from the product manager and engineers on the mobile team. These quick explorations allow the team to have an open discussion about a new feature before any time is spent in code.

Tell us about a recent project you worked on. What was the brief? What was the outcome?

The team is currently working on building a new compose experience for both iOS and Android. Providing the user with the ability to write, schedule, queue, and draft new messages across their social platforms in our native apps is a big feature that all of our users touch daily. I used Atomic in the beginning exploration stages to pitch ideas to our team to get immediate feedback. As we made progress designing the feature being able to tap through real prototypes helped us work through any pain points in the workflow in real time. Also to get buy in from other stakeholders in the company.

SproutSocial-Compose-4-Atomic.png

What are some of the challenges you and your team used to face in the design workflow?

Delivering static mobile designs and assets to the engineers has always been a problem that we needed to solve to increase efficiency across feature builds. With the use of various new tools like Atomic we’ve been able to help communicate a feature’s story more effectively.

What role did tools like Atomic play in your project and how were they helpful?

Specifically being able to draw prototypes right inside Atomic quickly without having to prep imagery is a huge plus. Without committing to any design specifics I can get a feel for what a certain interaction feels like before we move into the bigger design stages. Although I will admit the ability to copy and paste straight from Sketch is quite a nice feature when imagery is necessary!

How did your team do? Any you’d like to mention or call out in any way?

As a smaller team we have been working towards establishing a process that tries to eliminate the tactical interruptions for building a better product. Tackling the new compose experience is a big project which has run smoothly thanks to everyone’s effort. It’s worth mentioning everyone on the team who had a part, thanks to our product manager Mark, our engineers Lucas, John, Mitt and our QA analyst Kyle.

We have users from all over the world using Atomic. What advice would you give other Product Managers about the benefit of using a collaborative prototyping tool like Atomic?

I would say knowing when to leverage Atomic in your process is important. I would also say that collaboration is essential for building software and including managers, designers, and engineers in your conversations from the beginning is crucial for shipping a great product.

Outside Sprout Social you’re also heavily involved in other creative endeavours, like reviewing Root Beers and designing Super Bowl Footballs! Tell us more about those.

I truly enjoy what I do for a living and it doesn’t just stop at my job. I tend to use my free time to freelance and work on projects that I’m interested in learning. I’ve been running an independent clothing line inspired by my love for cycling called Shycog. I wanted to learn font creation software and so I spent some time designing a display typeface called Codex for the Avondale Type Foundry. Currently I’ve been working with a close friend building a book directory app called Arthur that people can use to track what they read and write about it. So to say I stay busy is an understatement! :)

If you have one piece of advice for designers new to product design, what would it be?

Work hard to understand what the problem is that you’re trying to solve, and who the audience is.

Collaboration is key to building great software.

Even in the preliminary stages of a project get the whole team involved. As a designer you’ve got to respect the expertise each person brings to the table. At Sprout our teams operate so much more successfully when everyone is on the same page.


Thank you to Justin from myself and the rest of the Atomic team. If you’re thinking about using Atomic with your team, get in touch about our Team Pricing.

Posted 20 June 2016

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