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Topic: Industry

Why design has a massive role to play in the evolution of the web and the next generation of web products. Getting and keeping clients. How to write software that is not just “internationalized” but truly multilingual. Getting real about agile design. Evangelizing oustide the box: web standards and large companies. Working from home. Flash and standards: the cold war of the web.

  • Looking for “Trouble”

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    Venting isn’t exactly an innocent activity. Rolling our eyes at a struggling client—no matter how justified we may think we are—hints at a skewed sense of entitlement. It means we’ve forgotten that our experience working with others reflects their experience working with us. Orr Shtuhl shares how the team at Blenderbox changed their “venting culture” to proactively hunt for subtle flags of distress and take responsibility for their clients’ side of the experience.

  • Design for Real Life: An interview with Sara Wachter-Boettcher

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    Good intentions can easily blind us to bad ideas—accidentally awful outcomes that alienate and distress our users. It’s time to take a hard look at our processes, to recognize and work through our biases toward idealized users in ideal situations. In this interview with managing editor Mica McPheeters, Sara Wachter-Boettcher talks about what she learned while writing Design for Real Life.

  • The High Price of Free

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    Our industry is remarkable for how many of us do unpaid labor—sometimes for exposure, other times to give back to the profession and help our peers. We’re all grateful for the free software, learning, and support made possible by this generosity. But in coming to depend in it, we can’t forget that people need time to pay the bills and assure a secure future for themselves and their families.

  • Groups of Five

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    Technology rests on a discovery of patterns: of behavior, association, energy, thinking. How valuable those patterns are to us is constantly being renegotiated as we experience a series of reveal shots that show us another part of the big picture, and yet another part of the big picture, and so on. To rely on a favorite cliché, it’s turtles all the way down.

  • The Distance to Here

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    The people who determine product strategy move through a world of analysts, media, division leads, shareholders, stakeholders, monetization, and marketability. They seldom get a chance to come back to the corner where users and designers mingle. Rian van der Merwe suspects that increasing the communication distance between the decision makers and the product’s builders and users leads to a loss of perspective—and the results are products with marketable features that no one really needs.

  • Resetting Agency Culture

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    When we prioritize billable hours over people, our work environments can take a turn for the tense. Some agencies try to combat low morale with foosball and fancy perks, but what really matters is investing in people: fostering a workplace that supports dialogue, collaboration, and professional development. From onboarding new hires to ongoing engagement, Justin Dauer shares some starting points for a healthy office dynamic and confident, happy employees.

  • Mentorship for the Novice Expert

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    We’re short on mountaintops where we can find mentors, but the good news is mentors are actually just people like you and me who keep at it. They work at listening, ask people how they prefer to learn, make time to meet. Lyza Gardner talks about her early-morning motocycle practice, and how she loves gradually building her mentoring muscle by overcoming the embarrassment of being a beginner and just doing it.

  • Why?

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    Little kids have an endless supply of Why! Why is everything the way it is? Why do people do the things they do? We grownups don’t pester each other with a relentless stream of why?, and that’s mostly good. But kids could teach us to ask why when it needs to be asked: why are only some people able to build lives they love and find fulfilling work? Does everyone truly have the same chance, or do some of us start the game already a few rolls of the dice ahead? In order to grow, we have to ask the hard questions.

  • 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.

  • Managing and Making: It Doesn’t Have to Be One or the Other

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    We take it for granted that career progress means moving into a management role. Even people who thrive in the individual contributor role feel the pressure to join management. Shouldn’t both capacities be valued, so we can find where we genuinely fit in and do our best work? Rian van der Merwe has gone scouting up the career path and realized it’s okay to turn back and be the other, oft-overlooked but equally important half of the management/making dynamic.

  • 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 People are the Work

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    You take pride in your creativity and brilliant work, but the web is a place of transience. Businesses evolve, client needs change, sites are outgrown, and it’s time to start building again. Can you be content with the work of presenting content on the web? For an approach to creating something that stands the test of time, Matt Griffin and the Bearded crew took to heart an old adage in a surprisingly new way.

  • The Challenge for the Tiny Global Business

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    Long ago, a company had to grow to a certain size before it could embark on international trade. With digital goods, that’s no longer so. Learning all the applicable laws and taxes can be daunting, but that’s what allows the small business owner to stay independent as an exporter.

  • From Empathy to Advocacy

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    As designers, we’ve devoted considerable attention to the concept of empathy. But how do we ensure that empathy for our users translates into actionable steps that then guide our design decisions and behaviors? Lyle Mullican explores how we can go beyond listening to our users, and start advocating on their behalf.

  • How to Interview

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    The interview: the high point of the job search. Where it all comes together. How do you get to talk to the right person? What should you talk about? First off, don’t use the “Apply” form. Also, don’t think of it as a test, but a conversation both sides can learn something from.

  • Tweaking the Moral UI

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    Even at the most welcoming and trusting of conferences, a code of conduct is a necessity. Codes of conduct let people know that organizers are willing to protect participants and solve problems—a way of improving the user experience for our whole community. Here, Christina Wodtke attests to the inclusive power of codes of conduct—and what we need to do to see them adopted across the industry.

  • The Ways We’ve Changed—and Stayed the Same

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    A perusal of the article titles in the seasonal magazine 24 ways shows how the things we’ve needed to learn and keep up with have changed since 2005. Amid all this change, one thing that remains evergreen is the generosity of web people in sharing their knowledge.

  • The Doctor Is In

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    Where should new web designers go to get started? Find out in this first edition of Ask Dr. Web, where A List Apart’s founder and publisher, Jeffrey Zeldman, answers your questions about web design.

  • Our Enclosed Space

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    We tend to forget that the boots-on-the ground web generalists who do great work for small businesses can’t spare the time to implement an entire suite of best practices when they’re trying to solve one sticky problem on a tight deadline.

  • People Skills for Web Workers

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    The web touches everything an organization does—marketing to customer service, product development to branding, internal communications to recruitment. This is the era of cross-platform digital services, fast networks, and mobile devices. Sounds like the ideal time to be a person who makes websites. So why do we feel frustrated so often? Why do we experience burnout or depression? What makes it difficult to do work that has meaning, that satisfies us? Two words: people skills. Frequent ALA author Jonathan Kahn explains why they matter, and how improving our people skills will give us tools to facilitate collaboration, creating opportunities to improve our work, our organizations, and maybe even our world.