Recap - Screenly Summit 2019 in Lisbon

Digital signs on a conference room wall controlled by digital signage content management software. A photo of most of the Screenly team! A few team members weren’t able to make it to this year’s Screenly Summit, but we look forward to seeing them next year!

Wow! Just last week, we wrapped up this year’s Screenly Summit in beautiful Lisbon, Portugal. For an entire week, the Screenly team met up to strategize, ideate, and discuss plans for Screenly’s direction over the coming year. We got a lot of work done, and we had a lot of laughs too. In this article, we’ll provide a quick recap of our time together!

The purpose of the Screenly Summit

As many of you know, Screenly is a fully remote company. Our team is spread out across the world, and Screenly does not have a central office. We’ll brag here too – Screenly was a remote company before remote was cool. Since Screenly’s first days in 2011, the company has had a distributed team. Today, large tech companies, such as Zapier, InVision, TopTal, and GitLab, boast remote work environments, too. However, we’ll point out that we were here first! Read more about how Screenly’s distributed team works together.

There are many advantages to having a remote team. Screenly can hire the best talent, regardless of where that talent lives. Team members can devote what would be soul-crushing commute time towards their health and their families. Additionally, Screenly does not have to deal with the overhead of expensive office space. Instead, Screenly can devote those resources to hiring more team members and improving the product.

While there are many amazing benefits of being a remote company, there are downsides to being remote too. Put simply, video conferencing and instant messaging can never match the experience of speaking with someone in-person and face-to-face. Without being together in-person, learning each team member’s personality and mannerisms can be a difficult task.

To address the communication limitations of remote work, we host a Screenly Summit each year. During each Screenly Summit, the entire team comes together to live and work under the same roof for an entire week. Going from remote working to living with each other is undoubtedly a quick change of environment. However, the experience is amazing for team building, improving communication, and, of course, having a great time!

What we worked on during the Screenly Summit

We all arrived late on a Wednesday night, and we began the Screenly Summit with a quick meet and greet. Although some of the team members had met at previous summits, several of Screenly’s new team members were just meeting everyone in-person for the first time. Over the last year, Screenly has grown quite a bit, so there were a lot of new faces at our 2019 summit! That first evening, we were all quite tired from a long day of traveling, so after a quick chat, we called it a night!

The next morning, we had a quick breakfast and planned out our work for the following week. During the planning session, we aimed to pick tasks that both required collaboration from multiple team members and would be visible to the end-user once completed. From the couple of dozen tasks that we listed, we chose to focus on (1) launching a redesign of the Screenly web interface, (2) improving the player boot process, and (3) redesigning the user onboarding experience.

During the summit, we made a ton of progress on each of the chosen tasks. With the redesign of the Screenly web interface, we worked to simplify user workflows so that Screenly users can now manage their digital signs more easily than ever before. We also made the Screenly web interface a lot more beautiful! We will be rolling out these design changes over the coming weeks – be on the lookout!

Regarding improvements to the digital signage player boot-up process, our team worked on adding notifications and other on-screen communications to the Screenly Player boot-up screens. With these added notifications, users can more easily understand their Screenly Player’s loading progress during boot-up. Our goal was to prevent a scenario where a user is unsure if the player is working correctly or is instead malfunctioning during the boot-up process. As a result of our work, the boot-up process will soon be much more user-friendly for people who are just getting started with Screenly!

For redesigns to the user onboarding experience, we reimagined our current onboarding workflow to provide a custom first-time experience to users. In our new onboarding workflow, Screenly free trial users will get to see and interact with a demo screen that is custom for their customer persona and intended use cases. Our goal during the redesign was to deliver value to our users in the quickest and most customized experience possible.

Additionally, we did a ton of work to streamline our billing and payments interface. With that work, we aimed to make Screenly’s billing and payment options easily accessible and extremely intuitive. We’ll also be rolling out these changes soon, and we’re excited to deliver an improved billing and payments experience to our new and existing users!

At the end of the Screenly Summit, we each gave a presentation of our work. It was a great way to finish off the week and to celebrate our accomplishments. Also, the presentations were an excellent opportunity to solicit feedback from each of the Screenly team members for further refinements. We’re excited about these product improvements, and we’re confident that once you see them, you’ll be excited too!

Team excursions and activities during the Screenly Summit

The week wasn’t all work; we also had a ton of fun. Lisbon is a beautiful city, and we were lucky to be able to call it home for a week. The Screenly team walking along the Tagus River in Lisbon.

On one excursion, we had a great trip to the city center and Lisbon’s old town. We parked near the water near the Padrão dos Descobrimentos statue, and we then walked along the Tagus River to a great burger restaurant under the 25 de Abril Bridge (the one that looks like San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge). We then road Lime scooters – a must-do activity for any tech company – from the bridge to the historic Terreiro do Paço square in the heart of the old town. We had a great walk around, and we saw some great sights. For arguably the best part of the city excursion, we finished off our walking tour with delicious Portuguese custard pies from the famous Pastéis de Belém bakery. Yum! The street near the Pastéis de Belém bakery and a Lisbon cable car.

Another exciting excursion was our trip to Fonta da Telha beach. The Portuguese coastline has some stunning beaches, and while we didn’t have summer weather, the weather was still beautiful for October! One afternoon, the team made it down to the beach for a relaxing walk in the sand and a bite at Kailua, a great local restaurant. We had a fantastic time at the beach! A couple of members of the Screenly team even returned to the beach a few days later for a 9 AM swim. At that hour, the swim was very refreshing, to say the least! An October afternoon at the beautiful Fonta da Telha beach near Lisbon.

We had a lot of fun just hanging out together at the house, too. The house was massive – 12 bedrooms, a pool, and a table tennis and billiards table. Sessions hanging out by the pool and getting to know each other better created some of the best times of the trip. We also had some great meals together. We shared Cajun dishes, Kansas-City style barbeque, and homemade pancake desserts. Sharing meals and spending time together in an informal setting was great for bringing the Screenly team closer together.

We’re looking forward to next year!

The Screenly Summit 2019 was a fantastic experience for the Screenly team, and we are all looking forward to the year of growth ahead. The week went by incredibly quickly – we were busy, and we were having fun! However, in the short time that we were together, we certainly strengthened as a team, and it was great for the Screenly team members to get to know each other on a more personal level.

We all have a lot of work to do, and we are excited. We will follow our North Star of providing the best digital signage product and user experience to our customers. Over the next year, our team will expand rapidly, and we look forward to meeting the new faces on our team in-person at the Screenly Summit 2020!