Shorter Order: An Internal Project Resurrected
Ben Eckerson, Former Senior Digital Strategist
I’m no novice when it comes to internal projects. In my career I’ve been a part of internal site redesigns, crazy holiday ideas, and personal pet projects alike. For the most part, they all start the same way: with a tremendous amount of energy and excitement. The trouble is they can quickly become a burden on the team — one they must balance with paying client work.
Often, ideas and projects die because of this fact. Usually the project evangelist has a strong desire to build and iterate quickly — completing something just to get it out in the world or to capitalize on a current event. This results in either launching something with known issues that you aren’t exactly proud of, or a delay in progress to such an extent that hope is lost; that the project will never get off the ground.
Even the projects that launch all end the same way as well — you create buzz on the shiny, new, quirky, useful, entertaining application or initiative and it’s popular for 15 minutes of internet fame, then it's left to mold and decay on your server. It’s still up, being visited by the few and far between — more so now as a fond memory rather than for any real purpose. Rarely are these ever supported, let alone iterated upon — largely due to the team and the agency involved, and their need to create fresh, cool, and interesting projects.
That’s what makes our recent launch of Shorter Order so special to me. Shorter Order will be bright and shiny to many, but to us it's another iteration of our group ordering application Lunnnch. It would have been easy for us to abandon Lunnnch — it was buggy, had some clear usability issues, and a name that’s hard to tell your friends about — but we didn’t. We set out to make it better.
This didn’t happen overnight. We have all been very busy in 2013 and its been impossible to find dedicated time for all team members to chip in. So we made small incremental goals and bigger stretch goals to making the app better — doing so the way of the tortoise.
I dusted off a domain name I was hoarding (personally) for the past 3 years to donate to the cause; Mindy provided the branding and professional polish to the concept when she had an hour here or there. The application experience was thought out first by Lance, then Jackson, then Laura — when they had moments (both long and short) to donate their thoughts, sketches or wireframes. Eli shouldered most of the project’s burden in development, but did so in a swiss army knife-like fashion — from his back-end overhaul to his amateur FED skills that filled in when Nate, Dan, and Jason were booked.
I’ve often referred to the journey of a project being much more valuable than the end product, and this 8 month effort, although long, is just the same. I’m proud to work with a team that’s willing to step in at a moments notice, yet have the sense of ownership and pride to not just build, but craft something. And not for a “first ever” “never been done before” type of idea, but for the concept that’s been done before and collecting dust in the corner. We all wanted to make it better, at our own pace. And I believe that’s what we did.
Check it out: ShorterOrder.com