The Community Club

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Frank Lagendijk
Frank Lagendijk

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Building relations with both designers and developers at Zeplin

Hey Friends! πŸ‘‹ I recently chatted with June Cho, Developer Evangelist at Zeplin for our Build With Users series.

We talked about:
πŸ‘‰ How they use multiple platforms to connect with the community
πŸ‘‰ How June thinks about (virtual) meetups
πŸ‘‰ How they create content with power-users
πŸ‘‰ How June thinks chatbots should empower support communities

Let’s dive in! – check the full story right here

About Zeplin and June

Zeplin is a simple collaboration tool for designers and developers. It's a better way to share, organize, and collaborate on designs built explicitly with developers in mind. They were founded in 2014 and went through Y Combinator, and are now well over 4 million users. The exciting part is that they're this bridge between designers and developers, making it interesting to talk about in terms of community building.

Zeplin website

June Cho is a Developer Evangelist at Zeplin and started his journey in a similar role at Microsoft a couple of years ago. Starting at Zepling was a whole different experience. He's the first person in this role and is building out the team.

At what stage of the company did you start an online community, and why?

I came in at year 4 of the company. So before that, everything in the company had been designer and developers, just as our target audience. The team went through Y Combinator, raised a seed round, and became profitable. And I think there was this realization that we needed the next step to keep growing the company. At that point, it was all self-service. There was no sales, no success team, basically not a lot next to designers and engineers.

To get to the next level in terms of the people using Zeplin, they needed several other disciplines. That started with getting someone responsible for Sales and Success first and making sure some dedicated Support was in place. A little later, they expanded in hiring someone – me – to start working on evangelism and advocacy to spread out the word and get our audience connected.

What platform(s) do you use to connect with these audiences of designers and developers and build a community?

We're serving our people over the channels they typically already use. We have a Facebook Group, Spectrum, use Twitter, and use Medium for our content publication. Our focus isn't on just one digital platform. I'd count all of these channels as part of our community.

A channel like Spectrum is mostly used for two things currently: people sharing what's wrong or what else they need or would like to see. We're there to support the community and help them out, but it's less of a place where people genuinely connect or where we bring additional value. I see Spectrum and also our Facebook Group more so as a support community than anything else.

I think a big one where people truly connect is meetups. Obviously, the pandemic has changed a lot, and that's why I think a lot of other ways to bring value are essential. But personally, as a developer, I love hackathons. Working on a project over the weekend, eating pizza, and drinking Mountain Dew is just a fantastic way to connect with like-minded people.

The question is how to scale such activities. When do you hit that stage where you can and want to expand that to other places in the world. I think we're still very early on that.

As meetups are a big one for you, how do you look at the virtual equivalents? Have you tried anything?

I was very skeptical about virtual conferences at first. The main concern I had was: how do you know if someone's paying attention? They're at home, behind their webcam, and they probably have other things going on at the same time.

We then decided to try to join an existing initiative. It was a conference called Clarity back in September that we sponsored. As a part of this, they organized meetup slots that were about an hour long. I was quite skeptical as I figured that you also have these meetup slots with physical conferences, but it's incentivized a little bit by connecting over some food and drinks.

In that setting, I think part of the success must come from being flexible and able to improvise based on how people are engaging.

In the end, it turned out unexpectedly well. I made sure I brought some excellent content but also made sure I had quite some interactive parts to keep people engaged, including a little game at the end. Over 50 people joined, and all had their cameras on, which was something else I was concerned with. In that setting, I think part of the success must come from being flexible and able to improvise based on how people are engaging.

Read the full story here – where June also answers:
πŸ‘‰ Zeplin is a platform for both designers and developers; how do you take this into account for the community strategy?
πŸ‘‰ Do you interact differently with people that lean towards power users?
πŸ‘‰ How do people find out about the community? How do you make sure it keeps growing?
πŸ‘‰ How do you involve your community in improving your product?

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