Sean Rioux

Director of Digital Strategy at Therefore Interactive

Introduction

Therefore Interactive is a digital agency located in Toronto, Ontario specializing in building complex content-centric web applications. In my role as Director of Digital Strategy I’m responsible for providing project guidance to developers and UX/UI designers based on the information and content-ecosystem goals of our clients.

In my role as director I am also responsible for maintaining and improving the operational systems at Therefore. It is my responsibility to ensure projects are properly resourced and managed throughout the design and development lifecycle. In this regard, I am accountable to both the client and the people on my team to ensure a project meets expectations, while ensuring expectations are realistic and managed.

My technical background is in front-end development and specifically building Drupal based web applications. At Therefore I am often hands-on ensuring user interface and interaction design specifications are properly implemented and ensuring what we deliver meets a personal standard for quality, accessibility, and usability.

Digital strategy

At Therefore I specialize in providing project guidance on information architecture, content strategy (with a focus on content management systems), and user experience design.

It is my goal to ensure we provide solutions which meet the business requirements of our clients. It is also my mandate to ensure we consider the unique informational, accessibility and contextual needs of the end user of everything we build.

In my role as digital strategist, I employ a number of user experience and information architecture methods.

A project generally begins with research and discovery. Stakeholder and user interviews are employed to determine the high level goals and KPI’s, user stories and personas which frame the needs and requirements of a project.

Content strategy techniques such as ecosystem mapping and content auditing is employed to determine the communications touch points of an organization, and to understand exist content structures.

From there information architecture is defined. Here we establish the taxonomy, content type and general data structure which defines a company's information systems and digital engagement strategy. Here we work to define navigational models and information structures to facilitate retrieval of information in the most effective ways to deliver on project requirements.

Working from information architecture user experience designs are then established. Here I work to define wireframes which establish the information hierarchy and interaction patterns for all necessary application screens, sections, components and pages.

Methods

  • Research and discovery
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Customer interviews
  • User stories and scenarios
  • Information architecture
  • Content strategy
  • User experience design
  • Wireframing
  • Prototyping

Project management and operations

While often the role of digital strategist ends when the project specification is designed, at Therefore I often play the role of Digital Producer. In this capacity I’m responsible for project management and planning using the Agile methodology.

Depending on the scope of a project, at Therefore projects may fall into two categories; Agile Scrum, and Agile Kanban projects.

Agile Scrum projects are organized into Epics and Stories, and run in two week sprints. In my role as digital producer I am responsible for planning those sprints, prioritization and estimation, and generally managing developer and design process.

For managing our long term support clients, and smaller team projects, Agile Kanban is often employed. In this capacity I am generally tasked with overseeing project managers in ensure bugs, improvements and new features are managed using a versioning strategy and a regular release schedule.

At a an organization level, I employ Tempo planner resource teams to projects planning a project through it’s entire life cycle, and to ensure that our resource capacity is effectively managed. Though not generally responsible for producing high fidelity mock-ups, my role as digital strategist requires close attention through the design process to ensure concerns regarding feasibility, accessibility and usability are considered and maintained.

Agile Project Management

  • Agile Kanban
  • Agile Scrum

Software

  • Atlassian Bitbucket
  • Atlassian Jira
  • Atlassian Tempo/Tempo planner

Front-end development

Working professionally as a developer for close to 7 years, my experience provides me with special insight as a digital strategist. Generally my strategy process is shaped by this experience ensuring that information architecture and content strategy carefully considers the technologies to be used, and that wireframes present a realistic expectation of delivery.

Having worked for 6 years developing content centric applications using the Drupal content management system, I have extensive experience in advanced site building and content modeling. To ensure efficiency and standardization at Therefore in how we deploy Drupal I’m often involved in architecting solutions and providing specific guidance to developers on effective site building strategies.

As a developer my specialization is predominantly front-end. In that capacity I tend to focus on design, and HTML and CSS best practices and accessibility standards as well as design. I am also well versed in modern front-end development methods utilizing Javascript frameworks, automation and design systems as part of my workflow.

Skills

  • HTML5/CSS3
  • Javascript
    • AngularJS
    • jQuery
  • Automation and devops
    • Gulp, Slush Grunt, Yeoman
    • Sass
    • Git, Jenkins, Docker
  • Design frameworks
    • Bootstrap
    • Foundation
    • Material design
  • Content management systems
    • Drupal

Biography

My personal interest in technology began at a young age. My first computer was a Commodore 64 where I learned to two finger type and program in Basic. My first modem connected computer opened up a world of bulletin board systems and eventually the internet. Ever since then technology and the web has framed my interests, learning style and eventual career trajectory.

Beginning my career as a freelance designer and web developer around 2010 many of my early contracts involved working with small organizations or not-for-profits. At the time the services I offered varied providing everything from print design (creating brochures, postcards, annual reports, etc.) to web design and development services (building email templates, and managing existing web systems).

It was from this point that a more focused trajectory towards web development began. Becoming familiar with building and designing web-sites in Drupal, my skills in HTML/CSS as well as project planning and information architecture began to develop.

In 2012 I joined Therefore Interactive as a Drupal developer. Over the past four years I have honed my skills and developed my capabilities to embed myself in the agency model.

In general I’m a lifetime learner and a natural entrepreneur. From ideation to delivery, this work is something I’m passionate about. The opportunity and the challenge to explore and understand the diverse goals of our clients; to apply informed strategy, design and technology to help them achieve these goals.

In addition to my work at Therefore I have also contributed to the Drupal and content strategy communities here in Toronto and at large. I have participated as a speaker on topics of development, design and business strategy at Drupal summits and camps here in Toronto (as well as the Pacific Northwest Drupal Summit) and as a participant in the Toronto Content Strategy meetup.

In the future I hope to continue to engage and participate in the greater user experience and developer community, advocating for adherence to usability best practices and adoption and progression of standards. Working with Therefore I hope to continue to help the company grow, as we provide value to our clients and in providing our team of developers, designers and strategists with an opportunity to grow and developer their skills are personal career objectives.