Category Archives: Microsoft

Stuff about my time working at Microsoft.

Goodbye IMDb, hello…

kilbo-logo…independent consulting practice & stealth startup!

I’m incredibly excited to announce that I am now a freelance consultant specializing in customer & user experience analysis, and information & content architecture for mobile applications and the web.

For the past eleven years, I’ve had the privilege of working at two of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies in the world, Amazon (IMDb) and Microsoft. Combined, the products I’ve worked on have over 100MM downloads for Android and iOS, and over 300MM website visitors a month. It’s been exhilarating and humbling to work on properties at that scale with some wicked smart people.

But for a few years now I’ve been wanting to get back to working for myself and have the flexibility to be around more for my kids. After a year working with my IMDb colleagues to set a new information architecture, apply a new Material design, and get the wheels turning on development, (launching soon-ish!) it’s now time to strike out on my own.

So, if you know anyone that needs help tuning up or launching an app or website, I’d really appreciate a referral! The best way to contact me is through my LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kilbo.

And, because I also miss my startup roots, I’m also incubating a new company. Over the winter I’ll be working on the business plan and expect to be ready to scale and launch the new idea in the first quarter of 2017.

Stay tuned!

Goodbye Microsoft, hello…

…IMDb*!

I am very pleased to announce that I was extended and have accepted an offer to work at IMDb (Internet Movie Database) as a Senior Product Manager. I’ll be doing product manager-y stuff like helping to align the mobile and website user experiences and information architecture for the quarter of a billion people who visit every month.

It is very much a dream job for me and I am both humbled and elated that I’ll be able to practice my craft on an Internet property with such a tremendous history and reach. Feel free to start sending me your suggestions now. 🙂

To all my Microsoft colleagues: Thank you for the last nine years! I’m going to miss your passion and your brains. We did some great work together and I look forward to seeing what you do next.

(* A wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc.)

I’m hiring! Seeking a Front-end Web Developer

Interested in working with me at Microsoft on the next-generation Office developer website? My team has ambitious plans to dramatically change the site experience and I’m looking for someone to help code the experience.

The job requisition will be open soon-ish but I’m interested in gathering interested candidates now so we can hit the ground running.

Contact me via Twitter or at chriskil@microsoft.com.

Here’s the job description:

Senior Content Engineer – Front-end Web Developer

Do you love building website experiences that are beautiful and interactive? Do you start thinking immediately how to code wireframed interaction models? Do you love being a part of the iterative design process? Want to work on a high-visibility developer web property that is a locomotive for the new Microsoft?

The Office Developer Content Publishing Site Experiences Team is looking for a web developer with great technical depth to help us engineer web experiences for Office.com/developer. We need a creative problem solver willing to take on challenges and help us code innovative solutions for content delivery in a variety of formats including articles, videos, and dynamic, interactive experiences.

Responsibilities

  • Develop, maintain, and customize customer website experiences using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript for Office.com/developer
  • Perform debugging, testing, and bug-fixing
  • Participate in planning and design reviews

Qualifications

  • 4+ years web development or related software development experience working in a continuous deployment environment
  • Minimum 2 years of experience with web technologies and platforms (HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, JQuery, etc.)
  • Comfort with using prototyping and design tools and converting comps and wireframes into code
  • Experience working with XML, XSLT, DTD/XSD
  • Working knowledge of SQL
  • Experience deploying websites to Microsoft Azure strongly desired
  • Experience building interactive controls strongly desired
  • Strong communication and negotiation skills
  • Strategic thinking and problem solving skills
  • Ability to learn, document, and apply new technologies, tools, and publishing processes
  • Ability to work collaboratively and effectively across multiple teams–within and external to our organization
  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Systems or related field is preferred but real-world working code is more important
  • Please provide a portfolio for review

Microsoft is an equal opportunity employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, marital status, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other protected status.

The Office Developer Center Redesign

My team, in conjunction with partners across Microsoft, shipped a new Office Developer Center experience at http://dev.office.com this morning.

The New Office Developer Center

The New Office Developer Center

I’m incredibly proud of the work we all did. This was a hugely complex project that saw us combine six different developer centers into one, consolidate a little over 200 pages down to 24, re-write every single page, and simultaneously reset the global experience across 11 languages.

This was arguably the most challenging project I’ve worked on here at Microsoft and presented the thorniest information architecture problem I’ve ever encountered.

The Office family of products spans multiple products with their own hierarchies of brands and tasks for developers. At the top level, there is Office, SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync. Within Office alone there is Access, Excel, InfoPath, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, Publisher, Visio, and Word. Microsoft is also asking developers to write apps for Office and for SharePoint, and the development details are a bit different between Office and SharePoint. Add in Office 365 service content, and you have many different pivots you could apply.

Then we had to consider that we’re always balancing between the past, present, and future when we’re talking about development. There is a huge audience of developers who have written code to older versions of Office, a smaller set that’s targeting the current version, and then Microsoft is trying to guide developers to be set up for the future evolution of the platform.

The challenge here boiled down to: what information architecture would expose the breadth and depth of the product offerings, feature current and future development options, and not alienate developers targeting previous versions?

We had many, long discussions around the right pivots here, and in the end we decided to stick with the top-level product names as the main pivots for the navigation, and placed app development messaging on pages where it was product-relevant.

How’d we do?

Disneyland – A Short Story

It’s 1983.

I’m riding my Mongoose BMX bike through dirt trails with friends less than a mile from my house and I’m taking jumps off of mounded dirt around Western redcedar and Douglas fir stumps. My backpack contains M-80 firecrackers and matches.

We proceed to “blow shit up” for the afternoon and have tons of fun.

Eighty Acres echoes with our booms and I hear others in the distance, muffled by the understory.

I turn my bike towards home, and the hem of my jeans gets caught in the chain and I wipe out into the dirt.

I have scratches and I’m bruised. I pedal home slowly and wipe the dirt and tears from my face.

It’s 1985.

“This place, it’s like Disneyland. It’s not real.”

I’m in Munich being driven around on a tour bus, and our guide is providing us some local color. We drive past large, grassy mounds that we are told conceal heaps of brick and debris from World War II that were pushed to the edge of town to make way for the seemingly perfect Bavarian village-city we’ve been viewing.

“It may look hundreds of years old, but it’s less than forty. The city you see today is a fantasy compared to what it used to be.”

It’s 1997.

I’m walking through second growth forest about to become a housing development in Thrasher’s Corner with a woman I’ll divorce in a few years.

Trees are tagged with bright surveyors tape. I don’t know which are keep and which are cut down. It’s forest quiet, except for the passing traffic. We lament how this will become another subdivision. A man passes us, walking his dog. We say hello and my future ex-wife pets the dog.

A few months later, it’s tract homes cheek by jowl, and almost all the trees are gone.

It’s 2005.

I report for work at Microsoft as a contractor. I park my car underneath what used to be a forest. I don’t know where to go. I’m lost for days.

It’s 2013.

Taking a break from work, I walk a nature trail around the Microsoft campus. There are native alder, Western redcedar, vine maple and invasive Himalayan blackberries, Scotch broom, and English ivy along the trail. Emergency kiosks with cameras stand as bright red sentinels every quarter mile or less, watching and waiting for someone to push their emergency buttons.

I’m in Disneyland.