People Behind the Product: Nexis Newsdesk

January 12, 2022 by Leela Bozonelis

People-behind-Nexis_Newsdesk

You can measure the amount of work and brainpower that goes into a tool like Nexis Newsdesk by gauging its user-friendliness and intuitive functionality. In other words, the easier a media monitoring tool is to navigate and use, the greater the amount of sweat and number of sleepless nights that likely went into making it so.

Nexis Newsdesk is a standout from other media monitoring solutions in the sense that it seems to grow more simplistic in its use while somehow simultaneously becoming more feature rich. You would think that adding more media monitoring features would make Nexis Newsdesk more complex for the user. And under normal circumstances, you’d be right. Fortunately, people like Zak gollop, a senior product manager at LexisNexis, are working on Nexis Newsdesk, striving tirelessly behind the scenes to defy logic, by making Newsdesk more comprehensive yet less complex. Less burdensome to navigate yet more expansive in its media monitoring capabilities.

We recently sat down with Zak Gollop and asked him what it’s like to work on Nexis Newsdesk. When we asked him what he enjoyed most about his work, he replied without hesitation that “I love the sheer variety of people, customers, and challenges that I get to interact with on a daily basis.” Based on that response alone, we felt confident that Zak was built to work on a product like Nexis Newsdesk. Here are some more highlights from our interview.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working on Nexis Newsdesk?

A: It’s not unusual to go from talking about a high-level strategic vision for Newsdesk one minute before the next minute hopping into making prioritisation decisions regarding an impending product release! This always keeps things interesting, but what I enjoy most is engaging with the customers, learning more about their pain points, either with the product or with their daily workflow.

When we get the chance to put a new product or feature in front of the customers for the first time, it’s always an exciting experience getting to see how they interact with that feature, where the feature doesn’t match up to their expectations or needs, and, hopefully, seeing that eureka moment when everything clicks!

Q: When developing a new product or feature for an existing product like Nexis Newsdesk, what are some of the more challenging aspects of your work?

A: The biggest challenge for me is knowing when to go live with a new feature or product. Throughout the discovery process, we’re constantly talking to customers and assessing the risks involved in moving ahead with the product or feature in question. Anytime you bring something new to market, it’s tempting to hold it back so this “thing” you’ve agonized over for months is just right by the time your customers see it. But trying to perfect something before you share it means you’re depriving yourself of that all-important customer feedback. Of course, on the other side of the coin is the fact that you don’t want to miss being the first to market with something.

My team and I work to find a balance. We try not to release something so early that it’s purely functional and falls flat with customers. Conversely, we try not to wait to release something until we’ve “perfected” it in a vacuum, thus cutting out critical customer feedback. That’s why we focus on releasing a “Minimum Loveable Product” versus the “Minimum Viable Product” approach. We want to release early, but still delight the customer.

Q: What’s been your favorite feature launch for Nexis Newsdesk to date?

A: Oh, that’s easy. A couple of years ago, we developed a featured called “Simple Search” in Newsdesk. The journey from start to finish was a great one. The concept was born out of a workshop to address our top NPS detractor feedback, which was that search functionality in Nexis Newsdesk was too complicated. We prototyped a guided search feature, which ultimately tested very well with customers. However, one challenge we had to overcome was the fact that our prototype was not connected to any live data. This meant that I had to recreate the search terms our testers used when they walked through the “Simple Search” workflow prototype. I added the terms as a complex Boolean search in Newsdesk, so once the testers walked through the prototype, we could present them with a real set of search results they could expect to use if we built the prototype into Newsdesk.

This allowed us to not only test the usability of the user flow but also to assess the perceived value of the results that “Simple Search” could deliver. Testing went very well, and we gained the confidence to build the prototype as a working “Simple Search” beta. From there, we took the beta feature on a short tour across the Netherlands, putting it in front of more than 35 customers across three cities in the span of three days. It was a whirlwind trip! There were a series of small workshops at each stop, which were both fun and insightful.

After the tour, we organized, prioritised, and acted on our key observations and feedback. Ultimately, we launched the feature and, as a result, saw a 50% increase in the number of new users engaging with the search functionality in Newsdesk. There was also a significant decrease in the number of NPS surveys that flagged the search in Newsdesk as too complicated. That made me and team feel very accomplished, albeit a touch exhausted. Definitely a worthwhile endeavor though!