Reminiscing the Last 5 Years

Jim Lane, the lead of our user experience team, recently celebrated his 5th year anniversary at AddThis! (If you’ve ever come to one of our cool NoVA UX meetups, you would’ve bumped into him.) Being one of the newer members of the team, I was curious about what he’s seen during his time here. Here’s a little bit about Jim and AddThis’ story, and thoughts about the future.


Ifdy: What’s your background?
Jim: I started designing interfaces back in 1996, and have worked at startups like AddThis and Revolution Health as well as bigger companies like Netscape and AOL.

I: What was your first day at AddThis like?
J: Crazy! The team had been working a long time on a huge redesign of what used to be our sharing tools for Flash widgets and the accompanying management console. The project was finally winding down when I got here. It was a wildly complicated platform to learn in those first few days and weeks. Shortly thereafter, we started working on AddThis, which Clearspring had acquired earlier that year. We began with a small team at first that would eventually become the whole company.

I: What’s been the most surprising thing about working here?
J: How quickly we grew. In just the first two years of building out AddThis, we grew from 300 million daily views across 116,000 websites to over 2 billion daily views across 7 million sites. Now we see over 3.2 billion views across 14 million sites! The growth has been amazing, and along with it we’ve watched social media evolve. Early on we talked a lot about MySpace, but then Facebook grew into the giant it’s become. We’ve watched social networks fall in popularity, while others explode––like Pinterest––or demonstrate incredibly persistent and loyal audiences, like Reddit.

I: Tell us about your proudest achievement at AddThis.
J: I’d have to say I’m most proud of my team, and the culture of creating great user experiences that we’ve been able to develop in collaboration with our engineering organization. We couldn’t have grown as fast as we have without that shared focus.

I: Do you have a favorite AddThis product?
J: I love our browser extensions; I use mine 5-10 times a day to email links to team members, post things to our internal Yammer feed, translate pages, or just share to social networks. I usually share to Buffer, which lets me multi-post to some combination of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ depending on the topic of the link.

I: What are you most excited about in AddThis’ future?
J: With the recent release of Smart Layers, we’ve made it easier than ever to increase traffic and engagement! We’ve been talking a lot about personalization. At this rate, though, I’m sure the next features we release are what I’ll be most excited about!

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