Ethan Butler Interview: Go Behind The Vine

Ethan smiling

Mediavine loves being able to provide full-service ad management for over 7,500 content creators (and constantly growing!). We stand behind our mission of partnering with digital publishers to help them build sustainable businesses. 

Mediavine sees ads as only the beginning, although we may often be known throughout the blogging industry as an “ad company”.

We’re committed to building products like our valuable WordPress plugin Create, our social sharing plugin Grow (formerly Social Pug), and Trellis. Many of these are available to all, even if they don’t monetize with Mediavine ads.

We also strive to serve as an educational resource in our industry. One of the best parts of this is getting to hear from all sorts of awesome people through blog posts like our Publisher Interviews, Content During Covid, YouTube videos and Facebook Live series.

Ethan smiling

Speaking of our growing list of awesome publishers, this means the Mediavine team has also been growing (and getting more awesome + humble). So without further ado, we’re excited to introduce you to Senior UI Engineer, Ethan Butler. He’s actually made a couple of appearances on the blog before with his posts about Gutenberg and creative ways to use Create.

Please welcome Ethan and his new furry co-workers back to the Mediavine blog!

Tell us your name, where you’re from and where you currently live. 

My name is Ethan Butler, and I’m originally from Rutland, VT.

I grew up in eastern North Carolina but nowadays call Durham, NC my home. It’s a magical place filled with music, art and food, and it’s way better than Raleigh.

What does “Senior UI Engineer” mean? What do you actually do on any given day?

“UI” stands for User Interface, and the UI team works on the parts of Mediavine products that you see and use. Since most Mediavine projects involve our publishers having a degree of control, we work on almost all of them – Create, Trellis, the Dashboard and more to come.

Essentially, we write the code for buttons and forms, whereas other teams write the stuff you don’t see that happens when you, say, click the button. They make the magic and we make the wand.

Of course, “buttons” and “forms” and stuff is only a part of a good UI. We’re constantly working on making our products a joy to use. We want to figure out how we can deliver information more efficiently to our publishers, and allow them to make changes and create content as easily as possible.

As one of the technical leads of the UI team, I also work with the other UI engineers, as well as members of other engineering departments to make sure projects are going smoothly.

How long have you been with Mediavine? How have you seen the company change in that time? How has your job evolved?

I’ve been with Mediavine since March of 2018.

The company has grown so much. I was employee number 25 or 26. I started the same day as someone else, but I like to imagine I filled out my W-4 first, and since then we’ve almost quadrupled our employee count.

Originally, I was hired as a WordPress Engineer. My first big project was working on Create, which has a ton of UI components. After working on that project for several months, the UI part of the project became more or less my full-time job. Eventually, we realized that we had enough projects that needed UI work that we formalized an entire team around it.

What is one thing you want publishers to know about what goes into the Mediavine technology they use daily? 

Our over 7,500 publishers are split across so many platforms. Even amongst our WordPress publishers, there’s a huge variety of plugins, themes and other factors to consider. We work really, really hard to make sure that our products work with whatever tools our publishers are already using.

What are the most exciting things you’re working on and how do you see them positively impacting Mediavine publishers?

Since the Dashboard redesign launched, we’ve been focusing on new features, largely around video. We’ll have support for creating custom playlists soon, and support for adding chapters to videos after that. Video is a huge revenue generator for publishers, and it’s great working on features to make it even better.

Ethan traveling in Martinique

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

I’m a huge cook — I eat a mostly vegetarian diet, so I’m always looking for new things to do with chickpeas. I do a lot of home pickling, so to make sure my mason jars are always full, I garden throughout the summer.

I also make beats — I spend a lot of time in record stores or on YouTube looking for weird records from the 70’s to sample.

Lastly, I travel a bunch. In fact, I actually answered these questions on the way back to Durham from Martinique!

man holding a guinea pig, feeding it lettuce

Do you have any pets? What do they do for fun when you’re working?

Yes, I am finally part of the pets of Mediavine family! 

I would like to share that I’ve become the father to two adorable little guinea pigs, Popcorn and Pepita. 

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