Some of DPG Media’s content on websites like Het Parool or Het Laatste Nieuws isn’t freely accessible.With our paywall technology, we try to seduce people to log in or buy a subscription. Quinten Verniers uses his front-end skills and enthusiasm to draw people in - and it works like a charm.
New job, new squad, new features
If your squad is called Seduction Daily Operations (SEDDO), that needs some explaining. Quinten takes the bait: “The Seduction Squad builds products and tools for developers and marketers to show paywalls. SEDDO does the daily operations, which means we build A/B-tests, adjust paywalls, and add new features to the paywalls. It’s all front-end work and very diverse.”
Not only was Quinten himself new to DPG Media, but the squad was also new. So he had to figure out how to handle all the requests with his team. “We’re one of the few squads within DPG Media that don’t work with sprints; we use a Kanban board. That has both advantages and disadvantages.”
Delivering high-quality front-end work
Quinten mainly sees the advantages of Kanban. The main one is that the squad can quickly align with the developers of the Seduction Squad and the marketers to get the best outcome. “Our way of working is a bit more flexible. Of course, people expect a certain speed of work. But there are no strict timelines, and we don’t have to rush things. I can take the time to deliver the quality that I want. I don’t just blindly follow orders, so to speak. Instead, I collaborate intensively with my stakeholders, figuring out the best approach together.”
“I actually learn a lot about marketing now,” Quinten laughs. “I thought it was all about creating a visual here and an advertisement there, but it’s way more nuanced than that. The weekly meetings with the marketing team to analyze the results of our tests are very insightful. It’s pretty cool to see the effect of your work expressed in the number of new subscribers or new accounts.”
It’s pretty cool to see the effect of your work expressed in the number of new subscribers or new accounts.
From rookie to mentor
The SEDDO squad is still very new and will soon triple in size as the two originals, Quinten and Bart, have proven their worth. So a new challenge for Quinten (who has just started himself, remember?) is onboarding new colleagues. “I’m excited about that, actually. I like thinking about how we can give them a good head start and enjoyable first days. I felt I wasn’t as productive as I should have been on my first day. I don’t like that feeling - I want to contribute. But I also know it’s part of getting started: getting your laptop and installing applications. It all takes time. So for the newbies, I’m making sure there will be a few things they can actually work on.”
Does company size matter?
Quinten is very happy about his decision to join DPG Media. Before, he gained work experience at a start-up. “When you leave university, a start-up sounds super cool. And it was; I loved working there. But I learned that I appreciate structure, so I came here. There’s a clear vision of what we’re trying to achieve, why, and how. It allows me to navigate my work more easily and efficiently.”
The company size frightened him a bit in the beginning. Yes, Quinten was looking for more structure, but would he feel at home with 700+ colleagues in IT only? “Oh yes, definitely. I’ve met so many cool people already. I work in both Antwerp and Amsterdam, and the atmosphere is so good in both offices. If you meet someone in the hallway, it’s easy to say hi and have a chat. I definitely feel at ease here, more than I expected.”
And does more structure also mean more strict? Nope. There’s plenty of freedom and an open atmosphere. Quinten: “It doesn’t feel corporate at all. Everyone is super friendly. My team lead isn’t like a boss but like a colleague. Ideas and feedback are always welcome and acted upon. There’s no upper management handing out orders - it’s a conversation between people. DPG Media looks at the person behind the computer.”
Hacking for growth
The position of Front-end Developer in the SEDDO team is a perfect entry to bigger things within the company, Quinten thinks. “A logical step would be to join the Seduction Squad. But I also like building digital products. So maybe I can even work on a project I came up with in our hackathon.”
DPG Media organizes an annual hackathon internally, and a bit hesitant at first, Quinten handed in an idea. First, he had to pitch it in front of 80 hackathon participants. “I’m not sure how, but I got through it, and people were really kind. And some of them joined me in making a prototype. It’s an app based on AI and machine learning focusing on young people. I can’t disclose too much about it because, hopefully, it’ll become an actual project. I’d love to work on it more - I’m ready!”