TechBytes with Sylvain Grande, SVP, Product at Shutterstock

TechBytes with Sylvain Grande, SVP, Product at Shutterstock

Could you tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at Shutterstock?

I’m the SVP of Product and UX at Shutterstock. I oversee the company’s product and user experience/product design functions with a focus on enhancing the customer experience across all of our products and customer channels.

What is the idea behind launching ‘Smart Brief’? 

After analyzing hundreds of briefs and client interviews, the Smart Brief was designed to simplify the briefing process and increase the quality of briefs by automating manual workflows and reducing conflicting information through a guided experience. Now, briefing time has been reduced from 60-90 min to about 15-20 minutes.

Not only is the briefing process three times faster, but clients also have access to new features that enhance their productivity. For example, the ability to clone briefs not only saves time but helps for localization and seasonal purposes. They can also see different version histories and collaborate simultaneously on a brief, allowing for a more efficient workflow.

Also Read: TechBytes with Kyle Trotter, Director of Creative Video Content at Shutterstock

Could you tell us about the various tools and technologies in Content Marketing and Management stack that will tie into Shutterstock Custom and ‘Smart Brief’? What kind of outcomes do you promise to your customers? 

Smart Brief provides a guided experience for users and only asks relevant questions based on a user’s selection and content type. Through our analysis of hundreds of briefs, we were able to determine what information was necessary for a user to input based on their selections including content type and brief focus. With these inputs, we can deliver specific questions to customers with unique needs.

For example, vehicle information for an automotive customer or recipe ingredients for a food and beverage customer. By only asking relevant questions we’ve decreased briefing time to 20 minutes, and can guarantee a level of consistency to our customers as we understand what inputs are required for a contributor to successfully execute a brief. The information users input in Smart Brief is then organized in a format that reflects a contributor’s production workflow, improving readability. The outcome results in an innovative solution to customers that enables collaboration between users and helps create a simpler, clearer, and faster creative brief.

Which set of Shutterstock customers would benefit the most from leveraging this new product and how? 

Smart Brief is geared for any of our Shutterstock Custom clients who are looking for high quality, on-brand content that fits within their budget and timeline. Whether it’s a lifestyle consumer brand or B2B SaaS company, Smart Brief was designed to be intuitive and easy. It also allows for our Shutterstock Custom offering to be more accessible and valuable for all of our current and future Enterprise customers.

What kind of feedback and technical recommendations did you get from customers?

The team conducted customer interviews, surveys, system audits and trend evaluations over a period of 12 months to identify pain points and opportunities to simplify the user experience. We used all of this feedback to identify what makes a successful brief and ultimately build a more efficient Smart Brief along the way.

What challenges did you face in developing best-in-class UI UX product such as ‘Smart Brief’? How did you overcome these?

Our key challenge was creating an experience that enabled us to receive high-quality inputs from our users in a way that decreased their time spent creating a brief. In the past, we relied on our internal team to review briefs and interact with clients to ensure they were ready to be launched to our network of contributors. We wanted to remove this intervention and allow our users to create launch-ready briefs without intervention.

We overcame this challenge by distilling the brief to the necessary components and determined what questions to ask based on a user’s focus. After testing early versions of the Smart Brief with our event and automotive customers we were able to identify and remove points of friction. We also ensured that all data collected with the Smart Brief is structured so we can leverage data points for our recommendation engine to match the right contributor to a brief and gain insights to continue to improve the experience.

As a UI/UX professional, how do you see the future shaping for Shutterstock users and your competitors? What kind of disruption have you seen in the last 12-18 months in your areas of expertise?

Shutterstock is a creative platform that enables anyone, from individual designers to large creative organizations, to tell their brand story. From a UI/UX perspective, our goal is to help foster creativity by offering content, tools, and services that make the entire process more efficient. In the case of Smart Brief, we want to offer our users more control over the production process, while building a streamlined workflow with a great user experience. It is about capturing the right amount of information with a conversational user interface, and ensuring the flow is efficient both from a client’s perspective at brief time and after.

Success for this tool is measured by the delivery of high-quality outcomes to our clients. We already leverage technology like Artificial Intelligence in a number of our discoverability tools on Shutterstock and are committed to continually innovating with AI to improve workflow for all of our customers, but a great UX is integral to the success of any new product or feature.

What is your opinion about a lot of SaaS and Cloud enterprises shifting their attention toward the Open Source Programming communities – what kind of precedent does it set for Enterprise-based devops such as yours? 

We are always looking at trends and combinations of technologies to deliver a great experience for our customers. Shutterstock is a creative platform and operates in the Cloud, so for us, it’s critical to ensure we provide integration points with our customers’ workflow.

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Sylvain Grande is the SVP of Product at Shutterstock. In this capacity, he oversees the company’s product function with a focus on enhancing the customer experience by product and by channel.

Sylvain brings to Shutterstock more than 15 years of experience in technology, digital music, media, and telecommunications, having worked at Sony, Nokia,, and most recently SoundCloud. During his four-year tenure at SoundCloud, he was responsible for driving revenue for consumer and creator subscriptions, and also led teams focused on product development (including advertising products) and content operations. Sylvain holds an MBA from Essec, France and a BA in History from La Sorbonne, Paris.

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Shutterstock is a leading global technology company offering a creative platform for high-quality assets, tools and services.

The company licenses images, video, music, and editorial assets — as well as custom content tailored to a brand’s needs. Shutterstock offers a variety of plans for individuals, teams, and enterprise customers as well as creative editing and collaboration capabilities. The Shutterstock portfolio of brands includes Bigstock, Offset, PremiumBeat, Rex Features and Shutterstock Custom.

At Shutterstock we’re building sophisticated tools to help the world experience images and videos in a more beautiful way. We believe that the harmonious union of design and technology can influence global communication.

Shutterstock is made up of independent thinkers, technologists, and designers – working collaboratively to do compelling work, create cool stuff, and inspire each other.

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