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iSchool Portfolio

Website Redesign Plan

In Spring 2021, my Information Architecture class asked us to develop a website redesign/reorganization plan intended for a client, real or imaginary. Our three-person team developed a user research plan, personas and user scenarios, sitemap, wireframes, content audit, and recommendations for a family-owned nursery focused on California native plants whose website offers a treasure trove of related original content–how-to guides, gardening advice, nature/ecology articles, etc.–without the input of the prospective client.

Final report (PDF) on Google Drive

This experience was one of the best group projects I’ve had the privilege of working on, and afforded me the opportunity to explore several new-to-me tools, including Airtable, Balsamiq, and Lucidchart, all of which offer unique features and complications for remote collaborations like ours.

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iSchool Portfolio

Survey Research Proposal

In Spring 2020, the culminating project in my Research Methods course was a proposal for survey-based research, including thorough literature review, analysis plans, user testing, and complete questionnaire. My proposal was titled “Exploring Intersectional Identities and Gender Self-Expression Across Social Media Platforms.”

Research proposal and questionnaire (PDF) on Google Drive

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iSchool Portfolio

Instructional Planning

In Spring 2020, the culminative effort of my Instructional Design (non-K12) course was an instructional design plan for a topic and audience of our choosing. At the time of selection (pre-COVID-19), I was a regular “tech mentor” volunteer at my neighborhood library and worked with the librarian volunteer coordinator to identify and plan an “Excel Basics” class for adults in the nearby community. The plan includes handouts, a survey, and a downloadable learning tool (.xlsx file).

Instructional design plan & proposal (PDF) on Google Drive

Video introduction to the course (submitted for peer evaluation with other materials)

Unfortunately, due to library closures, we did not schedule the class. Though it’s possible to offer this class online, as some library offerings are, I did not pursue it, as I suspect much of my target audience would find the technological barriers to participating overwhelm their desire to learn this tool, and face-to-face would be more productive, so it will have to wait.

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iSchool Portfolio

Twitter Data Analysis

In Fall 2020, the final group project in Problem Solving With Data asked us to use newly-learned R and Python skills to analyze tweets to answer self-selected research questions aimed at addressing some kind of social good. My two-person team opted to look into Disability Twitter, a topic I proposed. I also pulled, filtered, and merged the data, as well as performing a large chunk of the content analysis and writing the corresponding sections of the report.

Final report (PDF) on Google Drive

While there are many aspects of the analysis I would do differently under other circumstances (see p. 28), it was a great opportunity to match my interest in/knowledge of a Twitter community with developing technical skills.

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iSchool Portfolio

Cultural Timeline

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Asked to create a timeline on a humanities-related topic of our choosing for a Fall 2020 Digital Humanities course, I selected gender nonconformity in pop culture, a somewhat broad and tricky topic as the terminology and understanding of gender identity outside the binary is an evolving one, especially as it concerns culture and media. The resulting interactive object includes a selection of some–but certainly not all–instances of how these identities have been represented since the 1800s or so, along with brief analysis and commentary on those representations. Featured in the iSchool’s Student Showcase.

A complete reference list follows.

Media List

Bayer, J. (2019, April 3). Prince “Symbol” [Photograph]. Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/23401011@N03/40565825163

Classic_Movie_Gals. (2008, June 12). Marlene Dietrich in Seven Sinners (1940) [Movie still]. Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/27534776@N07/2574399770

Drümmkopf. (2007, July 2). Left hand of darkness [Photograph]. Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/30453880@N04/4171543007

Hipp, M. (2012, May 20). Angry Inch – Hedwig & the Angry Inch [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWI6E8gdBzk

JasonOnEarth. (2007, August 1). Star Trek: TNG – “The Outcast” – ‘I Am Tired of Lies’ Scene [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMqGlSjAbwA

JonSnow. (2011, June 21). Pink Flamingos, live homicide [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bHKJt8beCI

Loose Women. (2017, June 30). Eddie Izzard on Why It Was Important for Him to Come Out | Loose Women [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2rYR0n5zTQ

Movieclips Classic Trailers. (2019, August 2). Boys Don’t Cry (1999) Trailer #1 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar9wGSd7KVQ

Ramirez, S. [@therealsararamirez]. (2020, August 27). New profile pic. In me is the capacity to be Girlish boy Boyish girl Boyish boy Girlish girl All Neither [Photograph]. Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/CEZak3AHwjG/

RuPaul’s Drag Race. (2020, October 8). Every Miss Congeniality’s Entrance (Compilation) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CalCAwLOJYo

Saturday Night Live. (2013, October 14). Pat at the Office [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYkjXMpKBBQ

STAT CHILE. (2016, January 8). Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) (1978) HD [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ifr13Upytb4

Steven Universe. (2017, November 22). Stevonnie Run Into Trouble At A Dance Party | Alone Together | Cartoon Network [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEELKp3jLd4

Unknown. (n.d.) Mathilde “Missy” de Morny [Photograph]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mathilde_%E2%80%9CMissy%E2%80%9D_de_Morny.jpg

References

Amin, K. (2013). Ghosting transgender historicity in Colette’s The Pure and the Impure. L’Esprit Créateur, 53(1), 114–130. https://doi.org/10.1353/esp.2013.0012

Anders, C. J. (2019, February 25). Exploring the genius of Ursula Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle. Tor.com. https://www.tor.com/2019/02/25/unlocking-the-full-brilliance-of-ursula-le-guins-hainish-cycle/

Anderson, R. (2013). Fabulous: Sylvester James, black queer afrofuturism and the black fantastic. Dancecult, 5(2). https://doi.org/10.12801/1947-5403.2013.05.02.15

Arroyo, B. (2014). Sexualizing the transgendered body in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Boys Don’t Cry. Textual Overtures, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.4000/ejas.14078

Avilez, G. (2019). Uncertain freedom: RuPaul, Sylvester, and black queer contingency. The Black Scholar, 49(2), 50–64. https://doi.org/10.1080/00064246.2019.1581978

Brodeur, N. (2020, January 31). When your signature ‘SNL’ character isn’t funny anymore: Julia Sweeney revisits Pat. Seattle Times. https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/when-your-signature-snl-character-isnt-funny-anymore-julia-sweeney-revisits-pat/

Butler, J. (1999). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Chambers, B. (2018, September 10). How The Left Hand of Darkness changed everything. LiteraryHub. https://lithub.com/how-the-left-hand-of-darkness-changed-everything/

Conway, J. J. (2012, June 29). Dress-down Friday: Mathilde de Morny. Strange Flowers. https://strangeflowers.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/dress-down-friday-mathilde-de-morny/

Cooper, B. (2002). Boys Don’t Cry and female masculinity: Reclaiming a life & dismantling the politics of normative heterosexuality. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 19(1), 44–63. https://doi.org/10.1080/07393180216552

Dean, L. (2020, August 10). Queer characters find power in “She-Ra” and “Steven Universe.” Bitch Media. https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/history-of-queer-representation-in-cartoons-she-ra-korra

Dry, J. (2019, December 12). As ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ joins National Film Registry, Kimberly Peirce addresses its complicated history. IndieWire. https://www.indiewire.com/2019/12/kimberly-peirce-interview-boys-dont-cry-transgender-1202196536/

Dunn, E. (2016). Steven Universe, fusion magic, and the queer cartoon carnivalesque. Gender Forum, 56. http://genderforum.org/transgender-and-the-media-issue-56-2016/

Ellsworth, M. P. (2016, April 22). Words of liberation: Prince’s lyrics and queer identity. MTV News. http://www.mtv.com/news/2871846/prince-lyrics-queer-identity/

Feder, S. (Director). (2020, June 19). Disclosure: Trans lives on screen [Documentary]. Netflix. https://www.netflix.com/title/81284247

Fitzgerald, T., & Marquez, L. (2020). Legendary children: The first decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the last century of queer life. Penguin Books.

Florido, H., Mitroff, K., Sugar, R. (Writers), &   Bae, K., Kim, S., Michalka, E., Jones-Quartey, I. (Directors). (2015, January 15). Alone Together (season 1, episode 37) [TV series episode]. In R. Sugar, W. Moreland, & C. Beaton (Executive Producers), Steven Universe. Cartoon Network Studios.

Gammel, I. (2012). Lacing up the gloves: Women, boxing and modernity. Cultural and Social History, 9(3), 369–390. https://doi.org/10.2752/147800412X13347542916620

Gudelunas, D. (2016). Culture jamming (and tucking): RuPaul’s Drag Race and unconventional reality. Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture, 1(2), 231–249. https://doi.org/10.1386/qsmpc.1.2.231_1

Hallam, L. (2010). Monster queen: The transgressive body of Divine in Pink Flamingos. Bright Lights Film Journal. https://brightlightsfilm.com/monster-queen-the-transgressive-body-of-divine-in-pink-flamingos/

Hamel, J. (2018, May 11). The Pansy Craze: When gay nightlife in Los Angeles really kicked off. KCRW. https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/curious-coast/the-pansy-craze-when-gay-nightlife-in-los-angeles-really-kicked-off

Hawkins, S. (2017). The sun, the moon and stars: Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958–2016. Popular Music and Society, 40(1), 124–128. https://doi.org/10.1080/03007766.2016.1245482

Kelso, T. (2015). Still trapped in the U.S. media’s closet: Representations of gender-variant, pre-adolescent children. Journal of Homosexuality, 62(8), 1058–1097. https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2015.1021634

kydd, E. (1998). Star Trek: Insiders and “Outcasts.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 42, 39–44. https://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC42folder/StarTrekGender.html

Le Guin, U. K. (2010). The left hand of darkness. Ace Books.

Patterson, G., & Spencer, L. G. (2017). What’s so funny about a snowman in a tiara? Exploring gender identity and gender nonconformity in children’s animated films. Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture, 2(1), 73–93. https://doi.org/10.1386/qsmpc.2.1.73_1

Pidduck, J. (2001). The Boys Don’t Cry debate: Risk and queer spectatorship. Screen, 42(1), 97–102. https://doi.org/10.1093/screen/42.1.97

Poole, R. J. (2018). “Rise like two angels in the night:” Sexualized violence against queers in American film. European Journal of American Studies, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.4000/ejas.14078

Prince. (1984, June 25). I Would Die 4 U [Song]. On Purple Rain [Album]. Warner Bros. Records.

Richards, J. (2016, October 19). Do we need to time warp again? Queer identity and the problems with the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Bitch Media. https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/do-we-need-time-warp-again/queer-identity-and-problems-rocky-horror-picture-show

Schmidt, T. (2010). “Being cool about it”: Performing gender with Eddie Izzard. Gender Forum, 29, 20–30. http://genderforum.org/private-i-public-eye-issue-29-2010/

Schoellkopf, C. (2017, June 13). Eddie Izzard reflects on coming out as transgender, why Caitlyn Jenner is a role model. The Hollywood Reporter. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/bookmark/eddie-izzard-reflects-coming-as-transgender-why-caitlyn-jenner-is-a-role-model-1012926

Song, L., & Tan, C. K. K. (2020). The final frontier: Imagining queer futurity in Star Trek. Continuum, 34(4), 577–589. https://doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2020.1750564

Taylor, J. (Writer) & Scheerer, R. (Director). (1992, March 16). The Outcast (season 5, episode 17) [TV series episode]. In M. Piller, G. Roddenberry, & R. Berman (Executive Producers), Star Trek: The Next Generation. Paramount Television.

The Matrix is a “trans metaphor”, Lilly Wachowski says. (2020, August 7). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-53692435

Whiteneir, K. T. (2019). Dig if you will the picture: Prince’s subversion of hegemonic black masculinity, and the fallacy of racial transcendence. Howard Journal of Communications, 30(2), 129–143. https://doi.org/10.1080/10646175.2018.1536566

McEnany, A., Mason, T., Wachowski, L., Adler, J., Berns, A., Hernandez, T., Mattis, L., & Sweeney, J. (Executive Producers). (2019-present). Work in progress [TV series]. Circle of Confusion; Showtime Networks.

Young, E. (2019). They/them/their: A guide to nonbinary and genderqueer identities. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Categories
Food Blog Personal & Volunteer

Cooking with Spade & Plow!

When COVID-19 hit, we signed up for the CSA of one of our favorite Campbell market vendors, Spade & Plow in San Martin, Calif. And they asked me to do a guest post on their blog in exchange for some really beautiful extra veggies they wanted to highlight: spring shallots, radicchio, squash blossoms, and summer squash. I really enjoyed it, and you can read about it here:

FIRE UP THE GRILL! SIZZLING SPRING FAVORITES

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iSchool Portfolio

UX Prototyping & Evaluation

In Spring 2020, my Web Usability class asked us to practice design prototyping techniques on a variety of web interfaces. For the final project, we reported on a web usability “problem” and tested possible solutions. While my ability to test the prototype thoroughly was limited due to COVID-19 (as noted in the paper), the experience was an informative one.

Final report (PDF) on Google Drive

Abstract: This project addresses user problems with browsing recipe search results that meet highly specific individual needs by prototyping a modal panel experience for filters, suggested refinements, and pages containing extracted source and recipe information.

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Personal & Volunteer Portfolio

TWWSJ Blog Posting Guidelines

Documentation created as reference for political action group members who may wish to post to our WordPress website. Not intended as standalone how-to.

TWWSJ Blog Posting Guidelines

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Portfolio Yahoo

Saturday Night Live videos

Saturday Night Live on Yahoo Screen – mapping keywords to vast back catalog of sketches and video collections

(No longer live due to deprecation of Yahoo Screen)

Ask

Yahoo Screen was planning to release a massive catalog of Saturday Night Live clips, spanning the series entire run. I was approached to create relevant search features to highlight the licensed content.

Process

I was given a list of video collections–recurring characters, hosts, themes, etc.–and an enormous spreadsheet containing video metadata for every single item in the catalog. My task: organize this data into discrete sets of keywords to bring up the precise, relevant video result or carousel of results, and investigate existing search coverage of SNL to ensure we cover those videos.

In addition to creating basic query patterns for such a huge catalog, I was able to have some fun creating aliases for the more popular videos, such as “needs more cowbell.” Specific clips and characters were likely to appear in search logs shortly after new episodes aired, so I planned to monitor dashboards in order to add new videos and keywords Sunday mornings.

Result

I turned around a huge list of keywords in a matter of days so the search experience launched at the same time as the Screen content. Post-launch, I trained a teammate how to look up video IDs and identify relevant query patterns so we could take advantage of the unique, timely spikes that only SNL had.

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Portfolio Yahoo

Tumblr in web search experiment

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Tumblr in Yahoo Search results

(no longer live)

Ask
After Yahoo acquired Tumblr, Search leadership asked me to find a way to feature Tumblr content in web search results.

Process
I started out with several things to consider:

  • Understanding the type of content on Tumblr
  • Determining what content, if any, could map to real web search user needs
  • Figuring out what metadata we could extract from Tumblr posts and whether it was enough to work well in our content management platform
  • Learning as much as we could from what little data the Tumblr team could share with us

Because I was unable to discover much evidence of existing Yahoo search-to-Tumblr content behavior in our logs, and the nature of Tumblr’s content is freewheeling and relatively unstructured, we had to experiment.

The first test featured content from specific Tumblr users (celebrities, online personalities, organizations–entities with discrete matching queries) in a simple image carousel. Limitations of this approach: only image-type posts could be displayed, so blogs with text posts, links, etc. would appear with limited results or none at all, despite frequent updating; we could only trigger on keywords that had a clear match to a single blog (e.g., Beyonce, ZooBorns). As a result, coverage was low, and leadership tasked us with significantly expanding the experience.

To accomplish this, I needed to rely on automatic triggering methods that offered far less control over what content appeared in search results. Despite concerns about relevance and quality, we launched a test for a small percentage of search traffic. The initial test had to be taken offline within days because, although the backend team took steps to remove content flagged as “adult,” pornographic results (and worse) slipped through.

Search leadership was determined, however, and resources were provided to dramatically improve the indexing for quality and cleanliness. The backend team also added logic for when to return content at all, based on timeliness and other factors. A designer was brought in to collaborate a unique template for Tumblr that accounted for the variable types of content and included more Tumblr branding (color, logos). The UX and content improvements launched in bucket, and although metrics weren’t impressive, it didn’t cause major problems, and the feature launched for all desktop web traffic.

Seeking to experiment further in hopes of improving and better understanding its performance, I took the initiative to categorize queries that triggered the Tumblr module and identify categories that might be well-served with Tumblr content. I used existing keyword lists roughly mapping to a dozen or so categories and set up a test bucket version of the module with only these categories with logging for each. I also wanted to see if other factors affected performance, including where the module appeared on the page (“slotting”) and how consistently it appeared (whether to ignore backend display logic). I tracked and compared my experiment’s performance to the primary module’s on a weekly basis, using that data to make small tweaks to each category along the way.

Result
The great Tumblr in search experiment ended after about a year and a half, when leadership decided the investment was no longer justifiable. Despite the effort’s ultimate failure, I was recognized for my contribution and creativity.

Key categories in my final experiment did show some lift in performance: food, books, holidays, fictional characters, TV series, and movie series.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Niche “Knowledge Graph” reference features

Tree knowledge graph with growing information extracted from Calpoly’s website and images via Flickr Creative Commons APIs

(no longer live)

Ask
Search leadership asked our editorial team to identify and develop “low hanging fruit” reference-type content as part of a competitive parity initiative. In some cases, we took content that had already been curated for standard search features and turned it into expanded right-side “Knowledge Graph”-style elements.

Process
For existing content, this was effectively a UX or template migration: the content was there, it just needed to be moved to a different format. Trees and food nutrition facts were two good examples. The only trick was that the images already curated weren’t large or high quality enough to serve as a large “hero”-type banner image, so I took advantage of Yahoo subsidiary, Flickr, which has a search-based API that let us serve only Creative Commons-licensed user images.

Result
Though these efforts did not represent high-volume queries, the effort did not go unnoticed by leadership, and it also served as an opportunity for less experienced team members to build their skills and flex creative muscle.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Earthquakes!

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Recent earthquakes via USGS API with location-specific keywords and results

https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=latest+earthquakes

Ask
The editorial team that worked with Yahoo’s search content management platform was broadly tasked with generating and working on ideas for new search features. One method of doing this was to browse government developer sites for APIs and structured data that might map to valuable search user needs. That’s how I learned about the United States Geological Service’s “latest earthquakes” API.

Process
First, I wanted to determine how often people search for earthquake information, and how they formulate such queries. Once internal analytics tools validated that there was sufficient search volume to proceed, I used a tool that let me pull queries by URL–that is, I got a report containing search queries that resulted in a web result click anywhere on the “earthquake.usgs.gov” domain. I classified these queries as “earthquake data intent” and “not earthquake data intent,” and further by patterns like “6.2 earthquake,” “earthquake in Japan,” and “latest LA earthquakes.”

Once I identified the main earthquake-intent patterns, I needed to determine how best to handle location information. Because the USGS API supported location by both a radius around a single point (appropriate queries containing a city name) and a bounding box with minimum and maximum latitude and longitude (worked for countries and regions), I created a list of popular locations for which bounding box location was more useful than a radius and let a global location list handle everything else.

Finally, the UX proved trickier than hoped. Initially I hoped to include a map component, which was supported in our tool, but a front end bug prevented it from rendering correctly, so I worked with a designer to massage a text-only table into an appealing result that presented all the relevant information. (Because the bug did not appear for any high-priority features, the engineering time was unable to devote time to fixing it.)

Result
Earthquakes represented an interesting use case for location handling. The search feature routinely spiked any time the earth moved and appeared alongside news headlines.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Community Season 6 (but no movie)

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Community Season 6 – featured Yahoo Screen video content + keyword list cultivation for TV series knowledge graph

(no longer active due to deprecation of Yahoo Screen)

When Yahoo Screen made its foray into full-length original TV series with Community and others, we were ready to go in search. I made sure that the latest episodes carousel had excellent coverage and TV Series Knowledge Graph contained accurate, detailed profiles.

Meanwhile…

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Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Yahoo Magazines vertical search

Vertical search experience embedded in web search results – set up in support of Yahoo’s Digital Magazines strategy (Tech, Style, Movies, etc.)

Ask

Yahoo launched several new media verticals called “Magazines” and did not migrate any corresponding vertical search experiences, which were based on an older platform. Instead, a search product manager was tasked with adding vertical content to web search, filtered according to the user’s site of origin, and they enlisted my support to create and launch the necessary features in our search content management platform.

Process

Each query sent from a search box included more than just the user’s query–it contained referral information, usually unique to the property or even page. I used this information to determine when a search experience should appear, as well as pass variables to a backend. The news backend, which indexed news from hundreds of sources worldwide, including Yahoo’s own sites, could return articles matching any query, filtered by property and sorted by freshness.

Expanding on a template design already in use for news results in general web search, I created a “vertical search” feature that included up to 10 results with thumbnails for each and paginated results if there were more than 10 stories matching a given query. This large search feature appeared on top of the usual web algorithmic links and any other non-monetized search features.

Product owners also asked for Magazine stories to be highlighted in web search results (in a less aggressive form, of course). I created simple “navigational” features with a max of 3 stories to appear on searches by Magazine name and featured writers to satisfy their primary need. Because Magazine stories were indexed along with all news content, these stories could appear in regular news search results without any extra effort.

Result

No-maintenance, low-effort vertical search launched on all new Magazines. Sites and big-name authors were effectively promoted in web search.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Yahoo original video content

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Yahoo News original documentary – full video plays inline on top of search results

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Smaller version among search results for alternative keywords

(no longer live)

Ask

Yahoo’s video site, Screen, hosted a wide variety of original content over the years, and they periodically asked for this content to appear in search results.

Process

Over the years, I built a relationship with contacts working on Yahoo’s video properties to support their efforts to receive views via relevant search traffic. While at first these appeared in search only as enhanced hyperlinks, eventually the search front-end team implemented an inline player functionality so we could embed Yahoo original content and other videos directly on a search results page. I created an expandable search feature that allowed me to respond quickly to the video team’s requests and generate appropriate keyword lists.

Result

Teams throughout Yahoo knew they could rely on Search to support their efforts to promote premium original content on-network without using significant resources per request.