Employee Spotlight: Tamara Fedde, Sourdough Enthusiast
WordStream has some impressive employees in our ranks: from industry influencers to marathon runners, from analysts to authors. The Employee Spotlight series aims to highlight the talented individuals who work here. Each month, we’ll be featuring an interview here on the blog and on our social accounts.
For this month’s Employee Spotlight, we’re featuring Tamara Fedde. Originally from California, Tamara is a product designer passionate about high-quality user experience, strong black tea, and her sourdough starter.
How long have you worked at WordStream?
I’ve been at WordStream for 8 months. I started out as an intern in June last year, and then I was hired as a full-time product designer in August.
How did you hear about WordStream? Why did you want to work here?
I found out about WordStream through another current WordStream product designer, Tori VanSant. We sat next to each other in the same General Assembly UX cohort and we chatted often. When the class ended, we parted ways but made sure to touch base every once in a while. A year or so later, after I finished a different UX apprenticeship program and was starting my job hunt, Tori reached out to me. She told me her team was looking for an intern, so I came in for an interview and immediately clicked with everyone.
My first day at WordStream, I remember being shown to my desk and almost immediately, all the designers stood up and came over to greet me. Everyone seemed genuinely excited to have me on the team and was eager to get to know me and show me the ropes. And that same team-centric and all-embracing attitude has been a constant throughout my time at WordStream.
A supportive environment is crucial for all teams, but especially so for designers because we’re constantly critiquing each other’s work and sharing feedback to make the product better. So from day one, it was easy to tell that I had made the right choice in accepting WordStream’s offer. Not only did working at WordStream check off all my professional development boxes, but it was clear that I had made the right decision in terms of company culture. I was like, this is where I want to be.
What kind of projects did you work on during your internship?
The best part of my intern experience was that I never felt like an “intern,” if that makes sense. My team trusted me to do the things that a normal designer would do, which meant I was given valuable, challenging work that directly impacted our product and our team. One of the first things I did during my internship was to conduct a heuristic evaluation of our product. Basically, that means I went through every single page of our product and identified usability problems in the user interface (UI) design. It specifically involved examining the product interface and judging its compliance against recognized usability principles or "heuristics."
For example, one heuristic I looked at was consistency. Consistency is important throughout a product because users shouldn't have to wonder whether different words, situations, or design elements mean the same thing. While examining our product through this consistency lens, I noticed that there were some areas we could improve. Tables were a great example because there are multiple different types of tables that exist in our product. While this might not seem like a big deal, having different tables that all function differently can cause cognitive strain and make things more difficult than they actually need to be. After conducting my heuristic evaluation, I presented my findings to the Product and Engineering teams and made an action plan to address some of these issues.
What's the most challenging project you've worked on so far?
The most challenging project I’ve worked on so far definitely had to be updating the Conversion Tracking section within WordStream’s Easy Tag page. Not only were we working on a redesign that would minimize the API rate errors that users had been receiving, but we were also introducing new conversion attribution models. Before designing, I had to learn about all the different attribution models supported by Google Ads. For a while, we were even thinking about mapping attribution models between Google, Bing, and Facebook, so that led me further down the rabbit hole. In order to ensure a smooth user experience, I had to understand each type of attribution method so that I could then effectively convey these different options to our users. While it took some time, I'm now familiar with attributions like the back of my hand. Hah!
What's the best thing you've learned here?
One of the newest things I’ve learned while working at WordStream is about our Product and Engineering teams’ agile workflow. I’ve learned what it means to work in two-week sprints and how the agile process can help us iterate on designs faster and test with users quicker so that we can be releasing the most valuable assets as quickly as possible. This framework is one that I hadn't experienced before, and it's been a whole new skill set to learn.
I’ve also really valued getting to know our agency clients and the challenges they face on a daily basis. I am always so grateful every time an agency agrees to hop on a call with us or participates in usability testing—they provide valuable insight that then, in turn, allows us to build features and functionality that will help them succeed.
What’s your workspace aesthetic like? Minimalist? Homey? Neat?
It feels like I always have a lot of stuff on my desk. I have a peace lily, a sticker/pin wall, a little box from the Czech Republic that I keep my tea in. I also have pictures of our design team pinned up and a couple posters about combating workplace inequity on my walls. I guess you could say it’s a bit eclectic.
What's the first thing you do when you get to work every morning?
I set my stuff down, and then I make myself a cup of tea. I like any type of black tea—English breakfast, Irish breakfast, sometimes Oolong.
What’s the last show you binge-watched?
The second season of You, which feels like a creepy thing to admit in this interview, hah! It was very engaging, but pretty creepy and disturbing as well. Now, I’ll probably go back to watching The Office again, for the umpteenth time. I definitely swing back and forth between watching darker, creepier shows or horror movies and then something fun and lighthearted.
Do you have a favorite horror movie?
I really like Guillermo del Toro’s El Orfanato. It was one of the first horror movies that I watched, but I loved the storytelling and the cinematography in it as well. It felt very artsy, very much a work of art, not just a slasher, jump-scare film.
Another horror movie I recently watched and enjoyed was Hush. It's about a deaf, mute female writer who lives alone in a cabin in the woods and how she copes with a home invasion attempt. It’s definitely creepy, but I love it because the protagonist is a total badass. She doesn’t allow herself to become a victim trapped in her own home. She really takes the reins into her own hands and gives the antagonist a run for his money.
Do you have any secret talents or hobbies?
I wouldn’t call it a talent yet, but a hobby. There’s a small group of us here at WordStream who make sourdough bread. I keep a live starter, named the Yeastie Bois, in my fridge at home.
A starter is just flour and water that has fermented; that’s where the sour taste comes from! I’ll “feed” Yeastie Bois once a week with equal parts flour and water, and then bake bread every two weeks or so. I'm all about fresh bread.
What's your go-to lunch?
Usually, I have leftovers from whatever we've had for dinner. My husband and I have a really good chili recipe that we make often. It’s a buffalo chicken chili recipe, and it's really good for wintertime. Very hearty. Very tasty.
But if I need to buy food in the Prudential Center, I recently discovered my love for Dig Inn. It’s homey, delicious food. Or, if I'm just gonna buy something quick, I'll just run over to Trader Joe's and get their green chili mac and cheese.
If you were a brand, which brand would you be?
The brand that I identify with most is Moleskine. I always have a personal Moleskine journal that I write in. All my past notebooks are numbered and sitting on my bookshelf at home. I journal, which sometimes means I write little notes or lines of poetry, other times I’ll use it for reflections. I've also started using the journals as scrapbooks, because I found that I would collect and keep things, little scraps of paper or tickets, but never do anything with them. Now, these journals have become a visual interpretation of the year that I've had. So now I look forward to creating thick, fat, chunky Moleskines, because it’s an indication of a good year.
What’s one product or service you wish you had an unlimited supply of at your desk?
That would probably be tea. I bring tea from home, but I’d love if I could have an assortment of tea at my fingertips. Also, Trader Joe's dried mangoes. They’re so good.
If WordStream announced a last-minute day off for tomorrow, what would you do with your suddenly free day?
That’s easy. I would start by feeding my starter in the morning so that I could do some baking later that day. Then I’d go out, and this is a perfect world scenario, so it’d be warm and sunny. I’d wear short sleeves and walk to a nice little coffee shop, hang out for a little bit, have some tea. Then, I’d get back home and bake some bread. And toward the end of the day, I’d probably find myself at a beach enjoying a nice walk along the shore. This would be perfect. A little bit of coziness in the morning, a little bit of outside time in the evening.
If you didn’t work in digital marketing, what would you want to do?
I feel like I'm just repeating my answers, but I think I would either have my own tea shop or bake bread. I'm all about both of those things right now. Bakers typically have to get up really early in the morning to do things, but again, in my perfect world, I'm just a casual, afternoon breadmaker so I would start later in the day and have bread ready for the after-work crowd.
Understanding each of our teammates' unique interests, skills, and experiences not only keeps our minds open but helps them unlock their true potential. Stay tuned for more WordStream Employee Spotlights!