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Topic: Project Management

  • A Modest Proposal

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    Comedy is easy, proposals are hard. Even the toughest creative pros cringe when it’s time to put one together. Yet doing so is essential if you want to keep your doors open. A compelling proposal requires more than a jumble of clichés and a nervous estimate of costs. It needs structure, organization, and joie de vivre. Fortunately, you can provide that structure, no matter how complicated the final proposal needs to be. Learn the key questions every client needs answered, and how to use them as the basis of a proposal that convinces your client you’re the right team for the job.

  • Get Started with Git

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    Version control: It isn’t just for coders anymore. If you’re a writer, editor, or a designer who works iteratively on the web and you want to reshuffle or combine pieces of your work quickly and efficiently, version control is for you, too. Al Shaw shows us how easy it is to install, set up, and work with Git—open-source, version control software that offers you much, much, more than just “undo.”

  • Findings from the Web Design Survey, 2009

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    The findings are in from the survey for people who make websites. Once again, we have crunched the data this way and that, figured out what the numbers were telling us, and assembled the sliced and diced data-bytes into nifty charts and graphs for your edification and pleasure. As in years past, what emerges is the first true picture of the profession of web design as it is practiced by men and women of all ages, across all continents, in corporations, agencies, non-profits, and freelance configurations.

  • No One Nos: Learning to Say No to Bad Ideas

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    You can’t create what clients need when you’re too busy saying yes to everything they want. As a user experience designer, it’s your job to say no to bad ideas and pointless practices. But getting to no is never easy. Proven techniques that can turn vocal negatives into positive experiences for you, the client, and most importantly, the end-user include citing best practices and simple but powerful business cases; proving your point with numbers; shifting focus from what to who; using the “positive no”; and, when necessary, pricing yourself out.

  • Kick Ass Kickoff Meetings

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    Too many kickoff meetings squander the busiest, most expensive people’s time reiterating what everyone already knows. If every meeting is an opportunity, why waste your first one? By asking stakeholders tough questions before the kick-off, and using the meeting itself to explore ideas and build relationships, you can turn a room of mutually suspicious turf battlers into an energetic team with shared ownership of the end-product and the kind of bond that can sustain the group through the challenges ahead.

  • Getting to No

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    A bad client relationship is like a bad marriage without the benefits. To avoid such relationships, or to fix the one you’re in, learn the five classic signs of trouble. Recognizing the never-ending contract revisionist, the giant project team, the vanishing boss and other warning signs can help you run successful, angst-free projects.

  • Erskine Design Redesign

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    In a mere two years, Erskine Design grew from two people working at home into a full-fledged agency of eight, working with major clients. Their website needed to better reflect their achievements, abilities, and team strengths. They also sought to improve the quality of data collected during client inquiries. Simon Collison explores the agency’s thought processes, and the decisions they made as their own client.

  • Managing Werewolves

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    While you’re always optimistic when leading a team, you know that not everyone’s got your back. Liars and poor communicators can wipe out good work faster than a 404 error. Learn how to think critically about verbal and non-verbal behavior and to separate office politics from truth, so you don’t let the Werewolves win.

  • Getting Real About Agile Design

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    Agile development was made for tough economic times, but does not fit comfortably into the research-heavy, iteration-focused process designers trust to deliver user- and brand-based sites. How can we update our thinking and methods to take advantage of what agile offers?

  • Walking the Line When You Work from Home

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    Working from home as a freelance contractor or remote employee can be a great thing, particularly if you live alone. But what if you have a spouse and/or children at home with you while you work? Every work environment offers distractions, but those who work from home with their families face a unique set of issues—and need equally unique ways of dealing with them.

  • Collaborate and Connect with Subversion

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    Managing subcontractors and distributed projects is easy and fun. No wait, that’s a lie. Luckily, a good version control may be just what you need to keep your projects on track.

  • Sketching in Code: the Magic of Prototyping

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    The rise of Ajax and rich internet applications has thrown the limitations of traditional wireframing into painful relief. When you leave the world of page-based interactions, how do you document all but the simplest interactions? Flowcharts and diagrams don’t work. Prototyping saves the day by focusing on the application and conveying its “magic.” Prototypes can help you sell a decision that is fundamentally or radically different from the client’s current solution or application. Sit a stakeholder down in front of a working prototype and show him or her why your approach is compelling.

  • Why Did You Hire Me?

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    Landing a new job or client is difficult in this economic climate. Undelivered contractual promises and work environment shortcomings can transform that challenge into a long-term nightmare. Keith LaFerriere shows how to get paid what you’re worth; how to fight for control of your projects using management tools corporate cultures respect (even if they don’t understand your work); and how to tell when it’s time to jump ship.

  • The Cure for Content-Delay Syndrome

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    Clients love to write copy. Well, they love to plan to write it, anyhow. On most web design projects, content is the last thing to be considered (and almost always the last thing to be delivered). We’ll spend hours, weeks, even months, doing user scenarios, site maps, wireframes, designs, schemas, and specifications—but content?  It’s a disrespected line item in a schedule: “final content delivered.” Pepi Ronalds proposes a solution to this constant cause of project delays.

  • Creating More Using Less Effort with Ruby on Rails

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    The “why” of Ruby on Rails comes down to productivity, says Michael Slater. Web applications that share three characteristics, they’re database-driven, they’re new, and they have needs not well met by a typical CMS, can be built much more quickly with Ruby on Rails than with PHP, .NET, or Java, once the investment required to learn Rails has been made. Does your web app fall within the RoR “sweet spot?”

  • Hat Heads vs. Bed Heads

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    Every team and office includes people with potentially conflicting personalities and working styles. By applying the right relationship management techniques, you can calm tension, communicate more easily, and run your projects more efficiently. Keith LaFerriere shows us how.

  • Get Out from Behind the Curtain

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    Client input: positive process or creative noose? Many designers would probably say the latter. But it needn’t be that way. Adaptive Path’s Sarah Nelson shows how to create collaborative work sessions that take the clients’ needs in hand while leaving creative control in yours.

  • Frameworks for Designers

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    Frameworks like Rails, Django, jQuery, and the Yahoo User Interface library have improved web developers’ lives by handling routine tasks. The same idea can work for designers. Learn how to harness the power of tools, libraries, conventions, and best practices to focus creative thought and energy on what is unique about each project.

  • You Are Not a Robot

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    Are we not (wo)men? Cut us and we bleed. Present us with a problem and we solve it—using judgement, experience, and the ability to generalize. Learn why machines will never be able to do our jobs, and how knowing that fact can build respect for the profession.

  • Educate Your Stakeholders!

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    Who decides what’s best for a website? Highly skilled professionals who work with the site’s users and serve as their advocates? Or schmucks with money? Most often, it’s the latter. That’s why a web designer’s first job is to educate the people who hold the purse strings.