Zao WordPress web development, Zao WordPress team, WordPress web development, WordPress web developers,

Zao: A Look Back at 2017

Last year, we celebrated a huge 2016 with excitement and anticipation for what the future would bring.

We’re happy and humbled to report that 2017 didn’t disappoint. We added a Project Manager to our team, we posted some rad content, worked on some incredible projects, and learned a lot along the way.

Here are the highlights of what went down in Zao’s 2017:

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Jon Campbell, WordPress web developers, WordPress web development, Zao contractors, Zao WordPress web development, west coast web developers

Get to Know Our Contractors: Jon Campbell

We recently did a series highlighting the core Zao team so you could get to know us better. We often partner with other experts in our industry, and since we’re all about building long-term relationships, we like to work with our contractors over and over again. For our end of the year, we want to highlight a few of the great contractors we’ve worked with over the past year and are continuing to work with now.

Meet Jon Campbell:

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Ian Bixby, WordPress web developers, WordPress web development, Zao contractors, Zao WordPress web development, west coast web developers, graphic designers, WordPress graphic designers, hire a graphic designer,

Get to Know Our Contractors: Ian Bixby

We recently did a series highlighting the core Zao team so you could get to know us better. We often partner with other experts in our industry, and since we’re all about building long-term relationships, we like to work with our contractors over and over again. For our end of the year, we want to highlight a few of the great contractors we’ve worked with over the past year and are continuing to work with now.

Meet Ian Bixby:

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Stacy Kvernmo, Zao WordPress web dev, WordPress web developers, WordPress web development

Get to Know Our Contractors: Stacy Kvernmo

We recently did a series highlighting the core Zao team so you could get to know us better. We often partner with other experts in our industry, and since we’re all about building long-term relationships, we like to work with our contractors over and over again. For our end of the year, we want to highlight a few of the great contractors we’ve worked with over the past year and are continuing to work with now.

To start with, meet Stacy Kvernmo:

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Zao WordPress web dev, WordPress web developers, WordPress web development

Zao’s Holiday Giving in 2017

We’ve talked a lot about how we like to give back to our community. It’s a huge part of Zao, as it is crucially connected to one of our core values: family.

Family is more than just your blood relatives. Family is more than what you’re given; it’s who you choose. We say “family,” but family, at the end of the day, is a group of people who are connected by values, goals, and proximity. It’s a community. We wanted to figure out how we could integrate our values into our holiday giving this year. Here’s a little look at how we decided on what to do, and what we ended up picking:

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Getting to Know Zao: Our Project Manager, Lizz Ehrenpreis

One of the cornerstones of how Zao works is the way we prioritize collaboration. We build long-term partnerships with our clients, rather than acting as one-off vendors. We’re invested in their success, and build technology that lays a foundation for them to meet their business goals.

Since we work so closely with our clients, we thought it important that you know who we are. Here’s the fifth part of a series introducing our team, featuring our project manager, Lizz Ehrenpreis.

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How Communication Plans Improved Our Projects

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been going through Louder Than Ten‘s Project Management apprenticeship since the spring. As the program has been progressing forward, we’ve been integrating many of the things I’ve learned into Zao processes (with, of course, some tweaks to make them a perfect Zao fit). One of our early takeaways from LTT was the use of a formal Communication Plan, and it turns out, this small thing has totally leveled up our projects and client relationships.

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Tools and Tactics We’re Using for Remote Team Bonding

The entire Zao team is distributed and remote, which means we don’t work from one location. We have no official headquarters or central meeting place. While Justin, Liz, and I are all in Oregon, JT is in North Carolina and Mihai is in Romania. We work with contractors who are based elsewhere, too! While we’ve talked about the benefits of remote work in the past, we haven’t discussed one of the big challenges: team bonding.

When talking with folks who have never worked remotely, there’s always skepticism about just how successful remote teams can be when it comes to…well, just about everything. They’re skeptical about productivity, management, communication, and the team dynamic overall. How do you know things are getting done? How do you communicate effectively? How do you manage people well when you aren’t able to check in at their desk? And how do you facilitate a positive and productive dynamic amongst team members when none of you are close by? How do you create that culture that so many companies rely on to keep morale high and the team motivated?

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A Few Ways Project Managers Support The Discovery Process

We’ve talked about the importance of the discovery phase before, and now we’re here to share the role of a project manager during this endeavor.

Your development team plays a crucial role in the process of discovery. They’ll handle digging into the existing technology, researching tools and methodologies that will ultimately be a part of the project, and strategizing the best way for the project to get done. At Zao, we make sure to dig into the client’s short and long term business goals. We lay a solid foundation not just for an immediate technological upgrade, but for our client’s long-term success as well (particularly as their company grows).

You may think your project manager won’t have a major role in discovery, but that’s all wrong! Having a solid PM on your team can help elevate the process, making sure you have all the info you need to catch red flags, scope appropriately, and manage the details.

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