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Topic: Process

Winning! Tools and techniques for fighting entropy. Working with clients and colleagues. Managing projects, people, budgets, and deadlines. Planning, facilitating, and finding balance. Keeping your creative spark. Giving your inner critic the boot. Banishing burnout. Setting agreements, expectations, goals, and game plans.

  • The Language of Modular Design

    by Alla Kholmatova · Issue 426 ·

    Goodbye, pages; hello, systems! When we break things down into atomic units, design elements become more scalable and replaceable, easier to test, and quicker to assemble. Alla Kholmatova emphasizes that a shared vocabulary should be the jumping-off point for teams who want to adopt a modular design approach. Let’s start with language, not interfaces.

  • Understanding the Emotional Response

    by Kelsey Lynn Lundberg · Issue 422 ·

    Validating emotions isn’t a glorified psychological process; part of our work is to hear our colleagues and clients out. Kelsey Lynn Lundberg shows us how we can identify the underlying needs—security, freedom, identity, worth—that drive emotional responses, and how to translate those needs into productive discussions to keep our teams moving forward.

  • There Is No Data vs. Intuition

    by Nishant Kothary ·

    Heads/Tails, Left/Right, Church/State, Engineering/Design, Logic/Emotion. Oh wait—the flipside of logic isn’t emotion. It’s fallacy. Another fallacy is feeling obliged to join either the faction of the sensibly-clad engineers or the faction of the crayon-toting creatives. Nishant Kothary has found that research is on the side of trusting your gut (then backing up your instinct with testing).

  • What Will Save Us from the Dark Side of CSS Pre-Processors?

    by Lyza Danger Gardner ·

    To spare ourselves the complexity and tedium of writing CSS, we’ve embraced CSS pre-processors. But we must use them wisely or risk outputting CSS that is weirdly convoluted and just so wrong. Could post-processors save us from the pitfalls of pre-processors? Lyza D. Gardner is cautiously optimistic about their future, but also has a solution we can implement right now to save ourselves from both unchecked pre-processors and unseasoned post-processors.

  • A Vision for Our Sass

    by Felicity Evans · Issue 412 ·

    Sass is a powerful tool in helping us wrangle complex stylesheets. Yet it has its headaches—including troublesome nesting of CSS selectors, code duplication, and tight coupling—that result in messy outputted CSS. Universal standards aren’t a viable answer, as the Sass spec continues to quickly change and grow. Felicity Evans holds that the problem isn’t Sass itself, but the way we use it. In this article, she champions a set of tenets that offers guidelines on how to work with Sass and evaluate new features and techniques.

  • From Empathy to Advocacy

    by Lyle Mullican · Issue 411 ·

    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.

  • The Implicit Contract

    by Lyza Danger Gardner ·

    Working with a team of like-minded folks not only makes for more copacetic daily interactions, it actually has a positive effect on the end product. Developers are valued for more than their technical skills. Another hallmark of a good developer is how well they mesh with a team.

  • The Politics of Feedback

    by Nishant Kothary ·

    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.

  • Breaking Stuff

    by Laura Kalbag ·

    Designers may do CSS, but not JavaScript. Some may do JavaScript, but draw the line at git. Some may be willing to use git with a graphical interface, but not with Terminal. When we get out of our comfort zone, it’s great to have a safety net so we can learn without breaking stuff too badly.

  • I Don’t Like It

    by Laura Kalbag ·

    The most dreaded of all design feedback is the peremptory, “I don’t like it.” Rather than slinking back to the drawing board, it’s important to get clarity on what the client is reacting to. Guiding this conversation can turn a show-stopper into a mutual win.

  • Lessons Learned by Being the Client

    by Rachel Andrew ·

    Great ongoing business relationships are good for both sides. But often developers aren’t in tune with their client’s day-to-day business needs and where their work fits in. And clients’ focus on immediate practicalities can make the developer’s work stressful and unsatisfying. Well, what better way to learn about the needs of the other than by becoming the other?

  • Me and My Big Fat Ego

    by Laura Kalbag ·

    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.

  • Making Time for Side Projects

    by Rachel Andrew ·

    What’s holding you back from finishing that side project? It’s valuable, but how will you ever find time for it? The secret is…drumroll…real goals and deadlines, and a realistic plan on how to fit it into the open spaces in your schedule. Time to get it on your to-do list and feel the motivation kick in.

  • Workflow Orchestration for the Wary

    by Lyza Danger Gardner ·

    Workflow consolidation is the key to alleviating suck, ennui, and (some of) the dangers of human error. If only it weren't so arcane and sysadmin-y. Don't be put off by past trauma or bad first impressions—task runners and build tools are here to help you take control of your own destiny.

  • Your Side Project as Insurance Policy

    by Rachel Andrew ·

    You’re never too young and healthy to make sure you can keep income coming in if sudden misfortune strikes. Often our livelihood depends on our physical abilities—such as typing code. Having a product as a side project can offer security if your daily work is disrupted by illness or injury.

  • A Moment to Breathe

    by Nick Cox · Issue 387 ·

    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.

  • Good Designers, Good Clients

    by Laura Kalbag ·

    In the web community, it often seems like client work is what people do when they need money to fund the projects they really care about. I might be considered an oddball for not aspiring to work in a hip startup or create a product out of a side project. I love working in client services.

  • It Is What It Is

    by Nishant Kothary ·

    One of my first managers — we shall call him Bob — had a saying that used to drive me nuts. To most of my complaints about workplace dysfunctions in our manager-employee one-on-ones, Bob would respond, “It is what it is.”

  • Explaining Water to Fish

    by Karen McGrane ·

    Seems like user-centered design just isn't all it's cracked up to be. We're told that user-centered design is limiting and we need to look beyond it. It's just not good enough, because it doesn't consider all the variables involved. Jared Spool tells us that user-centered design never worked. Even Donald Norman weighs in to discuss ways that human-centered design may be considered harmful.