Marc Grabanski, CEO & UI Developer of Frontend Masters

Ode to JWT Minneapolis

July 11, 2008

Note: The company is now Mirum Minneapolis. In the past it was called JWT Minneaplis, then RMG Connect, then Digitaria. 😅

After working for JWT Minneapolis for two years, I would like to take this moment to wrap up what I’ve learned and pay them some due respect. For those of you wondering where I’ve gone from JWT, I moved on to being a consultant and to start my own business building web applications.

Note: My experiences at the Minneapolis JWT office may not reflect that of the broader organization of JWT. This article is based on my personal opinions and is not sanctioned or endorsed by JWT.

Business Structure of JWT Minneapolis

The biggest takeaway from my experience at JWT was structure. From a high level, this is how the office was broken down into roles and responsibilities on the production side of the business:

  • Account Executive: Makes initial relationship with the client. Gets contract signed, presents RFP response, on-going client contact.
  • Strategist: Interviews the client to find out their goals with JWT services, big picture people. Decides on a product and vision to pursue with JWT.
  • (PM) Project Manager: Estimates hours, creates project plan and lays out project time-line. Becomes client contact for anything project related.
  • (BA) Business Analyst: Defines business requirements and use cases.
  • (IA) Information Architect: Creates wire frames based on the business requirements.
  • Copywriter: Writes copy for anywhere the client and IA deems it necessary.
  • Designer: Creates templates and style guides for project based on wire frames.
  • Developer: Takes all artifacts and creates the finished product.
  • (QA) Quality Assurance: Checks everything to assure final product matches all artifacts signed off by client (content, design, wire frames, use cases, etc).
  • Analytics: Ongoing tracking shows user trends and how to make the product more effective.

While at JWT, I had a chance to work with all of these core groups of production people, aside from the account exec and strategists. I was always so interested in how each of these roles interacted with each other. I would walk the floor throughout the day having brief conversations with coworkers to understand this structure more. It was fascinating to me and I always enjoyed learning bits about their expertise. All too often people don’t realize that each one of these roles requires a specific and refined skill set.

Important takeaway from a developer’s perspective: If a developer sits down to develop an application without having the understanding and principles of each role, the developer will have to undergo an amazingly complex road of twists and turns. Even if the product gets completed, it will most likely lack the cohesiveness and polish that having these roles provide.

If the proper time was given to each task and none of the steps were skipped, developing the final product based on these documents was a breeze. The structure always left for an enjoyable experience for me, because I always knew where to find the answers to my questions depending on what artifact I was looking at. Sure, there was a lot more,“social”overhead by tracking people down, but the end result was never a shot in the dark. The client always knew what to expect.


I had no complaints about JWT Minneapolis internally as a business. Some benefits of my experience there are worth noting:

  • JWT paid me fairly for my experience at the time and the job market in Minneapolis, MN.
  • I learned to meld artifacts from all different practices into one cohesive product.
  • JWT subsidized my trip to a web development conference in Boston, The Ajax Experience 2007.
  • I was able to grow my abilities by researching during down times.

There are so many words I could say about my last 2 years working with JWT Minneapolis, but I think I’ll stick to the above for now. Thank you to everyone I worked with!

LinkedIn has many recommendations that I received from coworkers at JWT Minneapolis through LinkedIn

Marc Grabanski, CEO & UI Developer of Frontend Masters

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