A List Apart

Menu

Topic: Workflow & Tools

  • The Specialist-Generalist Balance

    ·

    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.

  • A New Way to Listen

    ·

    Empathy can have an enormous impact on how we work. By learning to better understand others—what they think, how they feel, what guides their decisions and behaviors—we add balance, clarity, and depth to our business practices. In this excerpt from Chapter 4 of Practical Empathy, Indi Young explains how listening intently can lay the groundwork for developing empathy.

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

    ·

    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.

  • The People are the Work

    ·

    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 Core Model: Designing Inside Out for Better Results

    ·

    We’ve all fallen into territorial arguments about what content belongs on a site’s homepage. It’s the most important part of your website, after all—or is it? Ida Aalen shows us how to circumvent these turf wars with the Core Model approach, starting with a workshop to get everyone on the same page about what really counts as important—to your users. By identifying the core elements of your website as a team, you’ll make those smaller decisions about page design and content placement a lot faster, and without getting political about it.

  • How to Do What You Love, the Right Way

    ·

    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.

  • Training the CMS

    ·

    Launching a site powered by lovingly crafted content models is a joy. But what happens in the weeks that follow, as authors start entering new content into the CMS? If you want to keep your well-structured content intact and on strategy, a training PDF won’t cut it. Let Eileen Webb show you what will: getting editorial guidelines where your authors need them most—in the CMS itself.

  • Breaking Stuff

    ·

    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.

  • Client Education and Post-Launch Success

    ·

    Our jobs don’t end when we flip the switch at launch. It’s our responsibility, in fact, to follow through and make sure the tools we build are used to their fullest potential—by taking the time to educate and train our clients. Drew Thomas demonstrates how teaching our clients to understand, wield, and embrace their new websites and digital strategies makes good business sense for everyone involved.

  • Git: The Safety Net for Your Projects

    ·

    Are you one server outage away from losing the past week of work? Are you dealing constantly with buggy code, spending hours of time figuring out where errors were introduced? Tobias Günther thought this was just the way coding worked, until he started using Git for version control—and began to see huge improvements in workflow. Today he’ll walk you through the organized, approachable, and completely sane world of Git as he’s learned it. Your next project will thank you.

  • Running Code Reviews with Confidence

    ·

    Where does code review factor into your process? Don’t make it an afterthought, or avoid it altogether; Emma Jane Hogbin Westby shows us how code reviews can be done constructively and painlessly in this walkthrough. Even if you aren’t using Git to store your code, the principles here will make for an objective, consistent feedback process—and an even better end product.

  • Getting to the Action

    ·

    Was that conference worth it? There were smart tips and awesome people. Should you buy a ticket this year? For a freelancer or small business, it can be a significant expense. Wouldn’t it be great to know if the investment in time and money is likely to move the business forward?

  • Dependence Day: The Power and Peril of Third-Party Solutions

    ·

    “Third party or DIY?” It’s a question we’ve all faced—but do you know how to answer it? Scott Fennell walks you through a better decision-making process for determining whether to stay in-house or look beyond your walls. Hint: it’s all about assessing the risks and opportunities on both sides.

  • Structuring a New Collaborative Culture

    ·

    Collaboration is crucial in creative ventures, yet building a culture that allows it to flourish can be tricky—particularly in traditional, hierarchically minded organizations. But with a little tweaking, any space has the potential to become a hotbed of connected thinking. As Rosie Manning learned recently, true collaboration thrives in an environment built on trust, openness, and flexibility.

  • Prototyping Your Workflow

    ·

    Atomic design. HTML wireframes. Style tiles. We’re all trying to adapt our processes, deliverables, and techniques to meet the challenges of the fast-moving, multi-device web. But replacing your workflow in one fell swoop is probably impossible—and who’s to say someone else’s guidelines will work for your team, anyway? Learn how Mark Llobrera’s team let go of the idea of the perfect workflow, and embraced a more iterative approach to process change instead.

  • Look at the Big Picture

    ·

    It’s easy to see that automation can streamline image-optimization for all the varied contexts on the pan-device web. What’s harder to imagine is a future where foregrounding meaningful content in images can be handled by an algorithm. Art direction still requires human intervention, and that’s often a luxury in high-production environments.

  • My Life with Email

    ·

    Does your inbox constantly beg for attention? Do you suffer from always-on inbox anxiety? Email can easily take over your life—especially if you’re running a business. If that’s happening, it’s time to get serious about controlling the firehose of asynchronous communication.

  • Delivery Logistics

    ·

    A client isn't necessarily wrong to specify a PSD as the design deliverable they expect, but part of the design process is making sure we’re communicating with them in the clearest way possible—which could include helping them reexamine their assumptions. Client specs could be based on outdated or secondhand experience.

  • Start Coding with Wireframes

    ·

    As a designer or UX pro, you’ve long suspected you ought to learn to code, but where to start? How about making your next wireframe responsive? When you build wireframes with simple code, you create a deliverable that can be reused while you become more knowledgeable about the inner workings of the web.

  • Making Time for Side Projects

    ·

    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.