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Sara DeSmidt is a senior product manager with LexisNexis. She’s passionate about what she does, and she loves collaborating with her squad of developers, designers, user researchers, and fellow product managers to offer our customers best-in-class solutions. So, it didn’t come as a surprise when she was more than willing to sit down and share her experience developing the Nexis Newsdesk Mobile app (she literally jumped at the opportunity). And after chatting with her, we can report that her excitement about the app is very contagious.
Check out the interview highlights below to learn why the Nexis Newsdesk Mobile app has Sara (and us too!) so excited.
Hi, Sara! Thanks so much for joining us.
Hello! Thanks for having me.
Before we dive in to talk about the Nexis Newsdesk Mobile app, what do you enjoy most about your role at LexisNexis?
The people! That might sound like a cliché answer, but it’s 100% true. I’ve been with LexisNexis since the end of 2019, and I’ve learned so much from my colleagues in these last couple of years. The men and women who make up the Nexis Solutions group, in particular, are just wonderful. They inspire me every day to bring rigor to my work, to make sure we’re solving the right problems for our customers, and to do so in a way that delivers value quickly. And I should mention that’s also the attitude we brought to the Nexis Newsdesk Mobile app, by the way.
When developing something like the Nexis Newsdesk Mobile app, what are some of the more challenging aspects of your work?
Finding time to do it all. My team is spread out all over the world, so I start my workday at 7:30 AM here in the eastern United States. I do that because I want to make sure I give myself time to catch up on messages and emails before the morning meetings, and those tend to start around 8 AM. I’ve always been a morning person, so I’ve had a bit of an adjustment to make because I’m so used to taking the early hours to knock out items on my own to-do list.
Now that a large piece of collaboration takes place in the morning, my day has flipped, meaning I’m tackling group work in the mornings and using the afternoons for my head-down, blinders-on tasks. It was a bit tough at first, but I’ve acclimated. When tackling a project as important as the Nexis Newsdesk Mobile app, the last thing any of us want to do is let an email slip through the cracks! A missed message could result in a lost opportunity to discuss a particular feature or aspect that could ultimately lead to a better product.
Would you say the Nexis Newsdesk Mobile app is your favorite product launch to date?
Oh, without a doubt! The Newsdesk Mobile app is such a perfect example of what happens when you’re willing to collaborate, work hard, move quickly, learn from failure, pivot, and keep going. We had a tight delivery timeline, but that didn’t stop us from making sure we launched nothing short of the absolute best release version of the Newsdesk Mobile app possible. One aspect of development I found especially fun was the fact that we had to consider the most important value-added features for a media intelligence app. There was no better way to discover what those features are and to validate them than by working closely with our existing customer base, which I love doing.
One of my colleagues, Zak Gollop, who now holds my baton for a lot of the day-to-day work on Nexis Newsdesk Mobile, really challenged me to consider what the most important problems are for this app to solve. He and other team members—Andy Officer, Cameron Dalton, and Connor Bowman, to name a few—pushed all of us to find unique ways to meet our customers’ needs.
To touch on what you said about working with the customers for input, how do you use what they’re telling you to inform products like Nexis Newsdesk Mobile?
Working with your customers to develop a product you want them to turn around and use is data-centric insight at its best. But it’s not just listening to our customers that’s important. We have to listen to each other as well. In product management, we like to talk about data and its applications. But to actually put data into practice on a daily basis? That’s a much more challenging task!
It really takes a feedback loop, which means sharing your progress and being receptive to feedback constantly. Nothing great is created in a vacuum. That’s why our product development process includes a research period in which we validate hypotheses, learn, and validate our findings again. As a result of the time spent talking to our customers—through surveys, in-person interviews, in-product feedback, and things like that—we get the data we need to ensure that we are making data-based decisions. Also, I’d be remiss not to add that our leadership is key in ensuring that hard questions are asked and we’re considering customer problems and potential solutions from all angles.
What would you say are the ingredients to success for a product like Nexis Newsdesk Mobile?
If you want a product like Nexis Newsdesk Mobile to be its absolute best, it takes a team of people passionate about what they do. It takes collaboration and a willingness to make your existing and potential customers part of the discovery and development process. I’m proud of my work on Nexis Newsdesk Mobile [potential link] because it takes a village to make something great—and we really got the whole village involved!
The Nexis Newsdesk Mobile app is available now for existing Newsdesk app customers and includes a host of new features including:
A seamless experience between Mobile and Web with access to the same feeds across devices
The ability to personalise the app with Favourite feeds
Read Later and sharing capabilities
See recent Web Newsletters in the new app
Download the new Nexis Newsdesk Mobile app here:
App Store (iOS): https://apps.apple.com/us/app/nexis-newsdesk-mobile/id1567099763
Google Play (Android): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lexisnexis.newsdesk