Pantheon Community

WebOps Wednesday AMA: Alex Palacios

Hi! I’m Alex Palacios. I’m responsible for leading Pantheon’s Design group in creating meaningful user-centered experiences across platforms—through a collaborative design culture and scrum methodologies.

I work with Product Designers, Marketing Designers, and UX Researchers to improve the user experience today, and imagine what the experiences of tomorrow could be.

If you want to talk about non-work things… I’m a Puerto Rican nerd who enjoys discussing film, playing games (Clash Royale, Among Us, and Horizon Zero Dawn are recent ones), doodling, and writing.

Ask me anything!

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Hi Alex! :grinning: I was wondering what your favorite Clash Royale card is, and why?

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Hi Dorna, great question :wink:

Royal Giant was my favorite for a long time, but now the versatile Skeleton Barrel has turned into the card that gives me the most joy. Skeleton Barrel is such a wild card, you drop it, and it takes a long time to pay off… that’s why it is so dangerous.

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Hi @alex.palacios! :wave:

Thanks so much for sharing! I am dying to know what are some of the best SCRUM practices you have learned? And what exactly does a SCRUM master do?

Alsooooo, I know you & the team have been working super hard behind the scenes on tons of awesome projects :1st_place_medal: What can our community look forward to in 2021? Any teasers you can share!?

Also I have never heard of Card Royale BUT I am not really interested! Game night anyone :raised_hand_with_fingers_splayed:

Alex!!! :t_rex:

I want to know more about two things:

  1. How do you go about building a collaborative design culture?

  2. How do I get better at being the imposter in Among Us? I am so terrible.

Thanks for participating in WebOps Wednesday!

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Hi @alex.palacios! I’m always curious how folks initially started down their career path. So many career journeys are winding and super interesting! How did you get into design and what keeps you excited for more?

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Alex, I love being in meetings with you because you are always so high energy–I leave feeling pumped. What are some ways you deal with stress to keep so centered?

P.S. I have similar problems to @sparklingrobots in Among Us, so looking forward to that answer as well :hocho:

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Hi McKenna!

Scrum is extremely helpful for operationalizing the work in a cross-functional team. Without this mechanism in place, project timelines behave like gas in a room, they expand as much as you let them. The main tactics are: time-boxing yourself, and being honest about how much you can actually complete. When you work in tight parameters, you force yourself to take a very basic stab at the solution. The expectation is that it won’t be perfect. Perfection is the enemy of good. The “Answer” is not going to be found overly-discussing things internally, the answer is out there in the market. So the sooner you put something out there, the better it will be in the long run.

Lol, at the scrum master question… I think you should get Armeen to do an AMA. The scrum master is usually a PjM and they are the glue of the project—keeping all the pieces moving. Not only do they make sure people are communicating, they also provide visibility to executives about the health of a project.

Regarding hot stuff that’s coming up… We’ve been working hard at prioritizing low friction adoption for all of our customers, regardless of how tech savvy they are. Some of the fun stuff that reflects that:

  • AutoPilot: Our very own visual regression testing tool automatically scans your sites. It is pretty much a QA robot that notifies you if your layouts get messed up when you make changes to your code.

  • Edge Sites: We are expanding the way our customers can create sites. We are currently building an “instant site” solution, which is a static site generator for static content. Perfect for quick sites that don’t need to relay on the complexities of a CMS.

  • New Navigation: We’ve been developing a navigation that’s a bit more streamlined, defaulting people into a workspace (what we used to call “organizations”). It will hopefully reduce the number of clicks customers have to perform each time they log into Pantheon.

Wow, I wrote a lot here. Sorry about that, mates.

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Hi Alex and welcome!

OMG, film? What kind? Also games, doodling, and writing? What do you like to doodle?

Wow, I wrote a lot here. Sorry about that, mates.

Who doesn’t love a good story though?

But my main question would be what drew you to Design?

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Thanks so much for explaining! :clap:

The main tactics are: time-boxing yourself, and being honest about how much you can actually complete.

Man did that resonate with me! Can’t tell you how many times I have put myself in this predicament–both personally & professionally. As you mentioned"perfection is the enemy of good." And thanks for the heads up about Armeen–I will try and do some convincing :wink:

Okay, I am also writing a tooooon! But then again what else is new :laughing: I just wanted to share my excitement with you about Autopilot & the new navigation in particular! I am biased because I had a little teaser into the the new dashboard & the new workspaces dealio is going to be amazing! Especially for those new users who are less technical in nature. Definitely keep us all updated! :slight_smile:

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Haha, McKenna. I’ll definitely play you… or you can also watch me/others play lol

Hi sparklingrobots!

A collaborative design culture can be messy, but fun. These are a few ingredients:

  1. Talking to people beyond your immediate team. This is the first step to opening the doors of communication.
  2. Sharing “Inspirado” (fun links to design things and trends).
  3. Making time to map and do collaborative activities with a goal and some nice parameters. Some of my favorites guided activities are mapping, sketching, and discussing teardowns.
  4. Talking to customers and sharing those learnings and noting any emerging patterns.
  5. Celebrating each small improvement as part of a continuum of awesomeness.

It is pretty similar to jazz, but with more documentation :smiley:

Regarding getting better at being an impostor at Among Us… get in Admin and scan the ship to see who are the people hanging out alone, and then go get them. Blame other people who were alone during the emergency meeting :wink:

Hi Katie!

When I was 5 years old, I told my Mom I didn’t need to go to school because I was going to be a painter and “I already knew how to paint.” She sent me to Kinder Garden anyway. Then I got a bachelors in Film and Communications—while I built simple websites, did wedding photography, and motion graphics.

I think storytelling using computers is something I always found interesting. My life always found a way to revolve around it. I ended up moving to San Francisco 16 years ago, and got a chance to do tech design in a larger playground with some really cutting edge technologies and good budgets.

What keeps me excited is how the industry is always evolving. It can be both great and scary. Scary because you are forced to evolve and study constantly, but it is exciting because you learn new things as the profession shifts. Design groups are getting access to more research tools that lower the barrier of entry for designers to measure their own work. That’s extremely powerful and rewarding :slight_smile:

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Hi JohnRichardsII! (I love your name, and felt compelled to type it fully)

I also love your team and all the energy you guys bring to the table. It really creates a safe space for learning and collaboration. Life is hard and keeping it silly can be the very thing that turns a chore into something fun and fulfilling. It is a bit of a Mary Poppins vibe mixed with a “fake it till you make it” mindset. That first smile can cost you a lot, but the consequent one will come naturally.

Honestly, stress can really get you… my tactics to destress are probably based on routine and repetition: Opening my curtains in the morning, having coffee, and listening to a silly song can get me in the zone. Playing a game in between meetings or at lunch can really help me reset. If things get too overwhelming, take a break and come back to it later. The worst thing someone can do for their health is to try to force themselves to do a shore or to answer an upsetting message when their brain is not ready for it.

A tactic that is often overlooked is: actively avoiding giving stressful thoughts center stage. Easier said than done… but trying to compartmentalize them can be the difference between a belly ache and cruising through your day. There is always the possibility for disaster, but that fear can become the disaster you worried about to begin with.

Make Time is a really cool book for tactics to get in the zone and to destress. It is not just another time management book because it is written from the perspective of someone in tech who wants to spend more time with their family and follow their passions (and less time thinking about work). I highly recommend it!

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Hi Jose!

When I was a kid watching Xena on TV I pretty much thought: “I want to work on stuff like that.” So my favorite films have ridiculous tongue-in-cheek or supernatural elements. Professionally I’ve worked mostly in advertising and small projects. Really love animation. Here are two of my experiments: Mantis at the store and Drunk elephant. Regarding doodles, you can find some in IG

I think what drew me to design is solving problems in a two-dimensional framework with an element of “time” being thrown in. I always had an anti-social tendency, so communicating using computers just seemed to be my most natural fit :slight_smile:

This was a lot of fun, McKenna!

Thank you for inviting me. Hope it was helpful.

Take care of yourselves and each other :slight_smile:

That book looks great, added to my list. Thanks for all the great advice, especially about taking breaks. I often forget what a productivity boost comes from doing that and instead slowly try and plow through.