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Topic: Creativity

Catch a fire. Get inspired. Stay inspired. Developing creative processes, overcoming creative block, fighting inner demons, working with others. Facilitate great design. Cultivate artistic distance from your work. Harness the power of sketching and doodling. Learn to give and take design criticism (while banishing the inner critic that keeps you from getting anything done). Redesigning your own site.

  • Creating Process to Free up Time for Creativity

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    There’s merit to keeping your small business nimble by keeping process to a minimum. But even in the tiniest one- or two-person operation, it’s plain that not all business tasks are improved by being hand-crafted. Rachel Andrew powers through business routines with checklists that free her mind for more compelling things. Remove friction from the rote tasks, so you can be at your best for the creative work that can only be done you.

  • Building Nonlinear Narratives for the Web

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    The web operates in ways that can conflict with our traditional view of what a “story” is. Content is chunked, mixed, and spread across channels, devices, and formats. How do we understand story lines, characters, interactions, and the role of the audience, given this information sprawl? Cue nonlinear narratives—Senongo Akpem guides us past basic “scrolly-telling” to immersive, sometimes surprising experiences.

  • Initiation to Code

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    The best person to mentor junior developers turns out to be: you. Mentoring can be a powerful tool for guiding and nurturing new hires, but it also benefits you—and your organization—by encouraging collaboration and curiosity in your everyday work. Alice Mottola offers guidance (and a little agile structure) for approaching the mentoring process—and shows how it can build better code and better engineers.

  • Looking Outside

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    Partners in a small, close leadership team—such as in a family business—often know each other’s minds very well, and agree on most things. That’s great to keep things running smoothly (though sometimes there’s awkwardness when business disagreements intrude on home life). On the other hand, it can also lead to stagnation. Rachel Andrew is finding that an outsider’s perspective can help when partners can’t quite see eye to eye—or when they agree too much.

  • The Specialist-Generalist Balance

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    Specialists? Generalists? It’s not a question of which is better, but about finding the right mix for your team and your work. Specialists offer valuable expertise, but over-reliance on specialization isn’t always good for workflow—too many niches can lead to silos, bottlenecks, and poor communication. Garin Evans recommends that, instead, we build teams that play off the best traits of specialists and generalists, encouraging collaboration and innovation as we go.

  • The Love You Make

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    What's the best way to present your work on the web? It's not just about your portfolio pieces—it's also about cultivating your voice. Jeffrey Zeldman explains the importance of speaking and writing publicly as you build your online presence.

  • Conference Proposals that Don’t Suck

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    Conference proposals seem simple enough: throw your thoughts into a text form on a website, keep them within the suggested word limit, and hit send with high hopes of winning over organizers. But there’s much more to a successful conference proposal than meets the eye, and Russ Unger is here to walk through the steps involved with getting your germ of an idea into a polished state that will impress any committee.

  • Help! My Portfolio Sucks

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    What if a lot of your past work reflects times when you satisfied the client, but couldn’t sell them on your best ideas? How do you build a portfolio out of choices you wouldn’t have made? Our very own Jeffrey Zeldman answers your toughest career questions.

  • How to Do What You Love, the Right Way

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    You can find work where you do what you love, even without making a huge career zig-zag. Start now by doing what you love some of the time, and it will help you get to a place where you can do what you love most of the time.

  • The Politics of Feedback

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    We’re obsessive about collecting input from a wide range of potential users and stakeholders. But with such an onslaught of feedback, there’s always a risk of having your motivation and faith in humanity sucked right out of you. Sometimes, you just need calm critique from the few people who really get you. So which kind of feedback is best? The answer is both.

  • The Culinary Model of Web Design

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    If you want to create a meal that nourishes and satisfies, and can even become a memorable experience, you hand-pick fresh, honest ingredients and combine them with care. It’s how the “mothers,” the great women chefs of Lyon, earned accolades and loyal customers—and it’s a great model for web design, too.

  • Work Life Imbalance

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    Workspaces now include the comforts of home, and homes are filled with devices that connect us to work. It’s time to reconsider our enthusiasm for being available to deal with work any time, day or night. The balance we thought we’d find is tipped heavily toward productivity, to the detriment of exploration, inspiration, and regeneration.

  • Letter to a Junior Designer

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    When you’re starting out in design you hunger to fix all the things. Your imagination and passion are boundless. So what turns a junior designer into a seasoned pro? It’s more than experience—it’s an ability to be in the moment and be a whole person.

  • Me and My Big Fat Ego

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    In a design project, there are usually areas where the client sees room for improvement—and that’s hard to take if your self-esteem is bound up with your work. You need confidence to present your work, but be sure to dial back the ego if it stands in the way of a successful client relationship.

  • Inspiration

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    In the design world, asking about one’s “inspiration” is often code for “where do you pinch your ideas from?” But the act of copying needn’t be wreathed in euphemisms: just like in art class, we learn by copying the work of the masters. The trick is using the experience to learn and then making the technique or pattern your own.

  • Good Taste Doesn’t Matter

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    Do we truly believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Or do we actually seek out some external standard of good taste in design (and then try to impose it whether it leads to the best solution or not)? We may be happier, and better designers, if we let go of that notion.

  • The Silent Subcontractor

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    Subcontracting for an agency can sometimes leave a freelance designer in the shadows, unable to talk directly with the client during the project, and unable to show their own work in their portfolio later.

  • A Moment to Breathe

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    Burning both ends of the candle night after night, weekend after weekend, has long been part of web design and development culture. Especially in the startup subculture, we pride ourselves on working long hours with little sleep. It’s part of a new generation’s favorite myth—the one where we get in early in a company destined for an enormous IPO, work our little hearts out for a year or two, and end up rich and happy. The truth is rather less glamorous: the way we are working starves our prefrontal cortex, hurting not only our precious health, but also our productivity. Nick Cox shares the science behind the high cost of constant crisis mode, and explains how to strike a better balance.

  • The Monster Within Us

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    There's a monster within you and me—we all have it. It's driven by primitive needs and it's relentless, but—plot twist—it's trying to save your life. Only it doesn't understand what's going on and it can hijack your thinking and actions in an instant, making you a menace, or at least a jackass, to everyone around you. Scared yet? Fortunately, there's a great technique for keeping the monster at bay.

  • Defining a Vision: Making Sure Your Work Matters

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    When an architect designs a structure, he or she can be fairly sure the work will endure for decades, maybe even centuries. Here on the web, we’re not so lucky. Knowing how temporary digital creations can be, how can we ensure our work matters? By defining the organization's vision. This isn’t just about solidifying a mission statement, though. Russ Starke shows you how to help organizations create a detailed story of their future success—and how that story can serve as a compass for both the company and its customers.