Butter Life | 20 min read

Anna’s 6 Week Digital Marketing Internship

My name is Anna, I am 19 years old, and this is my first week of my internship at Digital Butter. I’ve spent the last several months on a Gap Year, and wanted to finish the summer working and learning...
Digital Butter
By Digital Butter
July 08, 2019
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Week 1

My name is Anna, I am 19 years old, and this is my first week of my internship at Digital Butter. I’ve spent the last several months on a Gap Year, and wanted to finish the summer working and learning in a creative, stimulating environment, before I head off to college at the end of the summer.

I used to attend the Canadian International School of Hong Kong, which is located in Aberdeen. Every morning, my school bus would drive past a large, yellow building, covered in comic art; each time, I wondered what the building was. Fast-forward five years later, I received the opportunity to intern for Butter, whose office happens to be in that very building: The Factory.

The Factory, situated directly across the street from the now-completed Wong Chuk Hang station, is home to a multitude of businesses. The Loft, a Tribeca-style coffee shop on the first floor, has been my primary stop each morning. At 10:00AM, coffee in hand, I make my way up to Butter’s office on the eighth floor.

A large, open floor plan embellished with a fully-serviced refrigerator, pool table, Nintendo switch, standing desk, and glass paned conference room all greet me as I walk through the office doors. Yellow industrial windows line the back wall, allowing the spacious “workshop” to be filled with natural light. Directly in front of those windows lie our desks––mine furnished with a 27-inch iMac, others with laptops, folders, post-it notes, coffee cups, and creative inspiration. Above us all hang two posters, one reads “Break Free,” the other, “Unlock Your Mind.” As the day commences, hello’s and 早晨’s are said, and the team of seven file into their respective work spaces. The collective sound of tapping keyboards, phone calls and muffled chatter all become white noise against a chosen Spotify playlist softly played in the background.

Amidst all this, web design, development and marketing projects are all being cultivated. Respective employees are responsible for the enterprise’s individual components: design, coding, marketing, management, etc. Collaboration between parties is essential for each project; a few times a day, several shuffle into the glass conference room for meetings on the proposal’s progress. A provided TV and whiteboard allow for easy communication and presentation, as does the soundproof room.

My work thus far has mostly been introductory: market and competitor research for current clients and project pitches, learning the ropes of digital marketing (SEOs, CMSs, IDEs, and other fun acronyms), and trying to make myself useful to an otherwise highly-efficient team––the latter, naturally, being the most challenging. Individual members have patiently helped brief me on everything I need to know, from explaining front-end coding languages to the WiFi password.

As this week draws to a close, I am both pleasantly surprised and relieved how smooth-sailing my introduction to Butter’s intimate troupe has been. I am sure there is much to learn and be excited for in the weeks to come.

Week 2

As I close out my second week of my internship - thanks to a short week for Dragon Boat Festival - there is much to look back at and reflect on. With no day quite like the other, the sun seems to set hours in advance at Butter–– that is, until I check the time and realise the full day has passed.

Week two has been full of new experiences: client meetings, writing copy, sourcing material for Butter’s social media accounts, learning the basics of Photoshop, and finally setting up a functioning personal LinkedIn account. As far as meetings go, I’ve had the opportunity to be introduced to large property developer, smart technology manufacturer and restaurant clients. Besides from the obvious thrill of meeting clients at all, my favourite part of these meetings has been seeing the practical use of what I’ve been busy compiling; work indeed feels less gratuitous when you realise it’s a small part of a much bigger project.

It has also been fascinating to see what goes on behind the scenes of things I previously overlooked. There are so many aspects of user friendliness and aesthetics that, if not seriously considered, will inevitably create problems for clients in the future. Part of my competitor research is actually looking for those ignored aspects and making sure that we don’t make the same mistakes. While compiling information for the technology manufacturer, for example, I was astounded by how many competitor sites were, ironically, practically archaic.

A snapshot of my research in a client presentation
An example of an outdated website in my search

The key to creating a good website, I’ve learned, is clearly understanding user personas: who is going to be using the site? What type of person are they? What do they want to achieve - not simply, what does our client want them to do. Once various personas have been established, the design decisions and content strategy all seem to fall into place. Notably, when I say “all fall into place,” what I really mean is that several experts are able to determine the appropriate next steps. Though far from that kind of expertise, I am thoroughly enjoying aiding the process in whatever small ways I can––with several large projects coming to fruition, I’m sure there’ll be plenty to keep me busy.

Week 3

Each week at Butter comes with new surprises: this week, anti-extradition protests broke out in Hong Kong, with a fair amount of disruption to local transportation links.

Transportation routes to Wong Chuk Hang were hit quite hard this week, and many of the team were unable to reach the office for a few days (myself included). Thankfully, however, work goes on with the ability for remote working to be handled seamlessly, with communication over Slack, and tasks managed via Asana.

A screenshot of the Slack app. Email is so five years ago...
Asana is an amazing project management tool used at Butter, making task collaboration quick and easy

Discounting my two days of absence, my third week has been as full and interesting as ever. Bright and early Monday morning, Butter convened at a client’s restaurant for a team breakfast. Surrounded by smoothies and scrambled eggs, we were able to fully absorb the restaurant’s atmosphere; the physical environment, the staff, the food, the overall theme and vibe––these are all essential factors to keep in mind when making strategic decisions that relate to website design and digital marketing. Butter’s strategy often seems to work out in this hands-on fashion, and projects are not confined to the office’s four walls. After all, what better way to understand the client’s product than to use it (or eat it, in this case) yourself?

Besides from the continuation of my work from previous weeks (competitor landscape analysis, sourcing material for social media accounts, plugging content into CMS, and other research), week three has been full of opportunities to expand my horizons. Now familiar with the office, co-workers, and everyday tasks, I am able to help out with less instruction, and therefore with more projects. Butter’s flexible, creative culture also allows me to give personal preference on which projects I “dive deep” into, as Butter's Managing Partner would say.

Although only a summer intern, each week I am astounded by the whole team’s commitment to ensuring my time at Butter is productive and interesting. When confused by an assignment, support is always available. When excited by a project, encouragement to keep working on it is always provided. As introductions to working in an office go, I’d say that mine has exceeded all expectations.

Week 4

Much of my time at Butter is spent doing competitor analysis research, meaning I scour the web for good websites daily. Through this process, I've learned quite a bit on what makes or breaks a site. There are many components to ensuring a website looks good and runs well: design-wise, typography, media, graphics, and layout all stand out, behind the scenes, page speed, usability, and functional features take precedent. This week I've decided to focus my blog entry on breaking down some of what I've learned.

Like with anything, it’s the balance of prioritising both front and back-end elements that realise a final, show-stopping product. A website that focuses too much on aesthetics and not enough on usability, for instance, can ultimately be frustrating for the user. Fashion brand Yelvy’s website is a keen example of this predicament; although unique, the design takes some time to understand. Unfortunately, time is money––especially on an e-commerce site. The downside to having a gasp-worthy layout is that if sellable information isn’t immediately provided to the user, they aren’t likely to waste time searching for it.

Now, one might think to themselves, “I’m a patient person, I don’t mind sacrificing my time if the site looks good.” Statistically, however, they’d be wrong. According to Google, more than half of mobile visitors will leave a page that takes more than just three seconds to load. And the more graphics, videos, or animation a page has, the harder it is for it to load quickly. All hope is not lost, however! A good web development agency can most definitely create a website that not only looks beautiful, but runs both quickly and intuitively.

To prove it, I have compiled five very different but very satisfying website designs for some inspiration:

Harry’s - (Not) All About Aesthetics

Upon first glance, this site might not look like anything special. But from the moment one clicks into it, the brand, the product, and the calls to action are all abundantly clear. A neutral colour palette emphasises the product’s universality, a video-header gives the page something extra without detracting from the actual product, and simple graphics affirm the brand’s ethos. The end result is an aesthetically pleasing and aesthetically consistent site that is minimalistic, and has the perfect balance of less is more.

Harry's homepage's video banner animates men using their razors and skincare
Clean, simple photographs and categorical graphics
Neutral colour palette with an emphasis on the product

Muse - Explain Your Product

I've learned that one of the hardest things for a website to execute well is educating the shopper. What is the product? What does it do? How does it work? Why do you need it? These are all questions that need to be answered concisely, yet thoroughly. Some brands admittedly have it easier than others––after all, Harry’s doesn’t need to explain to you what a razor is or how to use it. Tech companies often have it the hardest, which is why (with the exception of Apple) one might find their websites less focused on aesthetics, and more on making those answers known. Muse uses high-quality photos and graphics in conjunction with written explanations to showcase their technology. The result is both easy on the eyes, and makes understanding product usage and advantages crystal clear to understand.

Got questions? Muse has answers
Step-by-step tutorial on how to put on the device
Product diagram featured under the "Why Muse" tab

Orangina - Know Your Audience

Needless to say, a website does not have to be dull to have good usability. Orangina uses creative templates such as block formations, neon colour systems, and bold typography to accentuate their brand and captivate their (likely younger) audience. At the same time, nutritional information and flavour breakdowns are in the appropriate places, and clearly legible––it’s the best of both worlds.

Orangina's "Products" page sports loud colours and fun shapes
An aesthetically interesting, but still completely legible product description

Femme & Fierce - Original Flair

It can be hard for e-commerce sites to differentiate themselves from one another. Imagine your favourite fashion brand’s website: besides from their products, what distinguishes it from their competitors? Femme & Fierce found a simple but effective way to give their site that ‘special touch’: when hovering over an image, small, animated, graphic eyes, lips, and lollies suddenly appear around the cursor. This hover animation does not detract from the clothing, nor does it harm page speed; it’s the perfect balance between memorability and efficiency - allowing the brand to jump out at you in an adorable way.

Categorical graphics and a specialised template
Specialised template, colour palette and images all support

These five, exemplary sites that I came across in my day to day research, all bring something different to the table. While Orangina and Femme & Fierce are fun and bright, Helix Mattresses and Muse are more corporate and information-heavy, and Harry’s lies somewhere in the middle. The respective website styles all match the brands’ personality––without pulling attention away from the products at hand.

As I close out another week at Butter, I am continually surprised at how much I have learned in so little time. Though far from a professional Digital Marketer, everyday I receive feedback and advice from seasoned experts. Now understanding the process that drives web development, I have already noticed a difference in my perception when viewing sites; in the coming weeks, I am excited to see how else I grow.

Week 5

My second to last week of my internship, and one of the most rewarding experiences has been seeing all of the team’s work come to life...

This is especially true for a project that I was involved in early, contributing with competitor research, and subsequently drafting several pages of tactical copywriting - with guidance from the team, of course. Seeing static designs now as a fully fledged, pixel perfect, mobile optimised website has been amazing. All the questions asked, and decisions made, culminating in a close to finished digital product.

In a short space of time I’ve learned a fair amount about how professional websites are built, and I now understand the importance of a user-friendly Content Management System, or CMS. This allows non-technical people (like me!) to––you guessed it––manage website content. Popular CMS platforms include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, and many more. Butter predominantly uses a framework called Craft CMS, which allows the team to build wonderfully simple CMS dashboards for managing websites, with fairly complex designs and content strategies. After one initial tutorial I’ve been able to feel my way around to support content entry for clients.

As a Hong Kong digital agency, Butter is often working on projects in multiple languages. This week I was able to put my own Chinese skills to the test, as I was tasked with entering content in Simplified Chinese. Luckily the copy had already been translated, so I was only responsible for its placement and organisation in Craft (which incidentally, handles multiple languages with ease). It was especially interesting to see the differences in the Chinese and English content strategy, from deliberate inclusion/exclusion of quotations, to simple changes in paragraph composition; no matter the industry, there is truly no escape from the nuances of language and culture.

So my internship at Butter is drawing to a close - I'm excited to see what’s to come in my final week!

Week 6

As I end my internship with Butter, I can only reflect on the past six weeks with fondness and gratitude. In addition to learning about digital marketing from Hong Kong’s best, I further developed an understanding of teamwork, the design process, social media, client relationships, office life, and societal progression as a whole. In my final post, I wanted to dive a little deeper into some of my biggest takeaways from my time at Butter:

JULY 8, 2019, BY ANNA L.SHARE ON

1. Digital Marketing is the Future

In recent years, the digital world has completely transformed our reality, and in turn, the way we use technology has fundamentally changed. Digital marketing is essentially a reflection of these changes, as the industry projects the practical components behind technological development. As I’ve delved into before, a large part of Butter’s role in web or app development is to ensure usability on all fronts, which is achieved through a thorough understanding of how tech is used in everyday life. In many ways, therefore, digital marketing is as much anthropological as it is technological. It is a fascinating conjunction in the way that it is so specific to the modern world, but so generalised across industries. I am thus extremely excited to apply the knowledge I’ve gained at Butter in different facets of my life.

2. Balance is Everything

Although I don’t expect every office to have an in-house pool table and Nintendo Switch, Butter has taught me the importance of a work-life balance. Despite the communal coffee pot being drained after many busy mornings, taking short breaks, going out for lunch, and working from home is frequently encouraged here. In fact, when a cold briefly circulated the office, my request for a sick-day was met with get-well wishes, not pressure to power through. I have found that this advocacy for self-care greatly contributes to the office’s productivity, and is a testament to the company culture. The message behind Butter’s leniency is not a lack of diligence but the opposite: take the time you need for yourself in order to sustain your level of proficiency and maintain your standard of work.

3. One Goal, Many Methods

The reality of working with others includes risks of fallacy and misunderstanding. Sometimes clients, for example, have unrealistic expectations about budgeting, timeframes, or the product at hand. Through watching client interactions, Butter has taught me that these blunders are best met with action-oriented solutions: if something cannot be completed in the proposed time, for instance, the response should neither be refusal nor blind acceptance. Instead, offering alternate deadlines or meetings at various stages in project development could suffice. False promises are never productive, but neither is stubbornness; compromise, as you’ll always have the opportunity to exceed expectations later.

4. It (Probably) isn't Candid

From filling up the Butter content calendar with linked re-postable articles to compiling photographs for possible future Instagrams, I’ve learned that the ‘date and time’ marking a post isn’t necessarily accurate. Business-oriented social media accounts, including those belonging to ‘influencers’, are likely run by multiple people. After all, all of the content in every official post should be appropriate to one’s brand, right down to the hashtags. As a result, offhand social media updates really aren’t that offhand––they might have even been scheduled weeks or months prior. That isn’t to insinuate deception, however, it’s simply another change in the way we communicate through technology. While most personal accounts likely don’t schedule posts, many take photographs or even go to certain events/locations with the intent to Instagram it. It just goes to show the influence of digital marketing in societal norms and behaviour.

5. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

It is something I’ve heard time and time again, but Butter has contextualised the real-world application of this cliche. This too I have mentioned in prior blog posts, but the products Butter creates are far from one-man jobs. Indeed, they take months of collaboration between the artists, coders, project managers, and clients––and that is just pre-launch! Group brainstorms, meetings in the conference room, and constant communication over various platforms is what ensures products are up to standard for each and every client. Each member of Butter’s team has a very specialised role, and the result is immaculate attention to detail on all spectrums of a project. From this I have learned that the amalgamation of many perspectives and skills is how to not just imagine a vision, but realise it to completion.

Here are some highlights of over the past six weeks:

It was truly my pleasure to intern for Digital Butter this summer. Not only has the team taught me lifelong skills, but they’ve also provided me with an incredible introduction to working-life. Each day at Butter was a truly unique experience, and I am very grateful to have been a small part of their very prosperous future.

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