Forward Action is made up of hard working, compassionate and dedicated individuals who have come together to work towards a better world with our charity partners. Each month, our Meet the Team series will highlight one of the talented folk that work here, getting to know what they do, what they think about, and what gets them out of bed in the morning.
This month, we are chatting to Jamie Draper, our Web Developer. Jamie is a technical whizz who works behind the scenes to create beautiful templates for our partners, and tests them to continually learn about what works best. Keep reading to find out why seeing the impact of his work is Jamie’s ‘North Star’, keeping him inspired and motivated, even when the world feels bleak.
What do you do at Forward Action?
On a technical level I mainly work on the front end of our journeys, so setting up templates for our partners. I’ll take a design for a page – like a handraiser, a donate page or an email to target – and I’ll translate that design into code to make it a real thing. I work on setting up A/B tests as well.
How would you describe yourself and your role in 3 words?
For myself, I’d say – friendly? Yeah, friendly. Sarcastic… and cheerful!
I’d describe my role as technical, creative and forward-thinking.
What do you like best about working at Forward Action?
Feeling like I’m working towards something bigger than myself. And doing that with great people. Every day, we do morning stand up calls where we share work updates and catch up, and sometimes that’s the best part of my day. I enjoy them so much, because everyone here is just fantastic. Such an awesome group of people, who are not only really skilled but fundamentally nice people who care about each other. The culture is wonderful. That’s probably my favourite thing.
Working here, I feel like I have purpose. On days that are difficult – if I’m feeling tired or disillusioned for whatever reason – it’s like this ‘North Star’ that I can look towards. If I just keep showing up and doing my best, I’m making some sort of positive difference in the world, even if it’s not always immediately obvious.
What’s been your favourite project to work on and why?
One that comes to mind is from a fair few years ago, when we were doing a lot of work for Greenpeace. It was the first time we tried the scrolling journey format – which is such a staple of what we do now, it’s really our de facto format. But back then, it was the first time it was being tested and used on a real campaign. It felt quite revolutionary.
A scrolling journey is an experience where you land on a sign up page and take action, and then you get scrolled down automatically to the next step – so you can take another action, such as sharing on social media. Then it scrolls again – basically a series of seamless actions.
It was really rewarding because the amount of sign ups and donations that came off the back of it were phenomenal. And I know Greenpeace used the templates I’d created for years afterwards, and a lot of donations came from them. So, when I think about where those donations went – that’s a really fulfilling thought to me. It was great to work on.
What’s the one thing you would change in the world if you could?
Can I say ‘eat the rich’?! No, but seriously… if I could magically redistribute wealth from the small group of extremely rich people that currently hold it, that’d be up there. I think the fair distribution of resources would solve a lot of things.
And it would be great to not lose any more animals! That would be cool. I would like my future grandchildren to know about animals from seeing them in real life – not just hearing about them in a museum.
A lot of these issues are connected though. Humans being selfish – myself included! I start on myself and move outwards, I guess.
What do you wish more people knew about digital mobilisation?
Buy-in and trust is so important. When we’re working with partners, at times what we’re proposing can feel like a big shift. And to really achieve what’s possible, everyone has to trust the process and jump in with both feet.
Also, change doesn’t happen overnight. It is quite iterative. I’ve been testing for years and see it time and time again – you have some test results that don’t really say anything. Then you can get that one that knocks it out of the park. So you just have to stick with it, trust the process.
What’s your favourite charity campaign?
A few years ago we had a partner called Patients for Affordable Drugs, based in America, where the price of medication is completely extortionate. And there are many people who are really vulnerable and can’t finance their own healthcare. The charity does amazing work raising awareness and campaigning for reform.
We built a tool for them – it’s essentially like Google Maps, and it has nodes all over the map. Each node presents a story from a person about the medication they needed and why, and how not being able to access it was impacting their life. The charity sent us all the data and I converted that into the interactive map. When we made it and uploaded all the information, and I first saw all these dots on the map, so many of them, with so many people and stories behind each one – it was such a visceral moment. It was really affective.
What’s your hidden talent?
I can do a beatbox version of ‘Drop it like it’s hot’. So, yeah.
*Jamie starts beatboxing excellently*
But I’m not sure that will translate well in an article. I can also play the piano, I’ve been playing since I was 14. I find it really relaxing.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I like to play and produce music when I have time. I really like to read, to get lost in a great novel. I like to see friends and go out dancing. I’m also a bit of a geek, so I like to do programming tutorials outside of work. And I still play video games, I thought I’d have grown out of it by now!
What does a typical day look like for you? What are you currently working on?
So the day starts with the morning stand ups (mentioned earlier), which I love. Then I have a call with the Dev [Development] team, where we discuss what we got up to yesterday, what we’ve got on today, any challenges we’ve had, any technical blockers we’re facing. It’s a very useful way to start the day. After that, I usually have a pretty clear idea of what I have to do for the rest of the day. There are partner calls here and there, but usually I’m getting my head down, getting on with creating templates and setting up A/B tests.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to do what you do?
If I was to meet my past self, I’d try and explain that we’re all still learning, all the time. When I was less experienced, I just assumed anyone who was more senior than me was a complete body of knowledge. They knew everything, I knew nothing. They felt so far away from me, but now I know the reality is everyone is learning all the time.
Imposter syndrome can be crippling. But I wish we were told more often that it’s OK not to know something. It can even be a good thing. We can find stuff out together! Shifting your perspective in that way can actually be a really liberating way to work.
We hope you enjoyed hearing more from Jamie! Click here to read more from the Meet the Team series.