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Topic: Workflow & Tools

  • Workflow Orchestration for the Wary

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    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.

  • A List Together

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    A List Apart gets back to its roots: building community, giving a platform to new voices, and getting people excited about the web. We’re making changes to the way we work—starting with our decision to open-source the code that powers alistapart.com itself—and we want you to participate. Our Mat Marquis invites you to contribute code and concepts via GitHub, get to know our acquisition scouts, and use ALA and its editors to share your ideas and insights with the whole web design and development community.

  • Your Side Project as Insurance Policy

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    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.

  • He Ain’t Snowfalling, He’s My Brother

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    Not many newsrooms have the wherewithal to produce their own “Snow Fall,” and that, some say, dooms the NYT’s experiment to becoming a mere blip in the history of periodical web design. But it’s not all about per-article cost-effectiveness. The ambition that drives these efforts is exactly what the publishing business needs.

  • Performance Matters

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    Web performance depends on much more than JavaScript optimization. Fortunately, the W3C's Web Performance Working Group has given rise to new APIs that help developers measure performance more accurately and write faster web apps.

  • Good Designers, Good Clients

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    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.

  • Connected UX

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    Your inbox overflows with customer emails suggesting features and improvements. Instead of benefiting, you feel overwhelmed by an unmanageable deluge. You conduct usability tests, user interviews, and competitive analyses, creating and sharing key insights. Yet within months, what you learned has been lost, forgotten, or ignored by someone in a different department. What if you could sift, store, and share all your customer learning in a way that breaks down silos, preserves and amplifies insights, and turns everyone in your organization into a researcher? MailChimp’s user experience director Aarron Walter tells how his team did it. You can, too.

  • How Do You Go on Vacation?

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    The idea that everyone should get time off away from their business, perhaps even completely disconnected from the internet, is a pervasive one.

  • Douglas Engelbart and the Means to an End

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    ENIAC, the world’s first programmable digital computer, was completed in 1944. Today, more people have access to mobile phones than have access to toilets. There are more mobile internet users in the developing world than in the developed world. It took just seventy years to get from a device the size of a two-story building to a device that fits in your pocket.

  • You Can’t Do Everything

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    In any given day I can find myself reading up on a new W3C proposal, fixing an issue with our tax return, coding an add-on for our product, writing a conference presentation, building a server, creating a video tutorial, and doing front end development for one of our sites. Without clients dictating my workload I’m in the enviable position of being able to choose where to focus my efforts. However, I can’t physically do everything.

  • Hack Your Maps

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    Web maps have come a long way. A ubiquitous and critical component of many apps, they’ve also become one of the mobile space’s most successful transplants. The core web map UI paradigm itself—a continuous, pannable, zoomable surface—has even spread beyond mapping to interfaces everywhere. Yet nearly five years since Paul Smith’s landmark article, “Take Control of Your Maps,” web maps are still a blind spot for most web designers. It’s time to integrate maps into our designs in powerful, creative, progressively enhanced new ways. Young Hahn starts us on the journey to map mastery.

  • See What I Mean

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    We’re pleased to share an excerpt from Kevin Cheng’s new book, See What I Mean: How to Use Comics to Communicate Ideas, available now from Rosenfeld Media.

  • The Future is Unevenly Superdistributed

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    Tools that give users ever more control over formatting, timeshifting, and sharing will continue to proliferate. This steady growth runs directly counter to the simple, one-to-many broadcast model enjoyed by many publishers in the past.

  • Designing Contracts for the XXI Century

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    A design contract is like a business card—it comes from the same desk, and bears the same creative mark. But it’s also the business card you hate handing out: a folder of legal gibberish with terrible formatting that reminds the client of everything that could possibly go wrong before the work has even started. If we want to address the readability problems unique to our era—and improve communication with our clients—then it’s time we fix the language, layout, and typesetting of our contracts. And who better than designers to do it? Veronica Picciafuoco shows how modernizing your contract to match your carefully crafted brand can also help you reach an agreement faster, and even strengthen your position when negotiating.

  • Responsive Comping: Obtaining Signoff without Mockups

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    If you’re making websites, chances are you’ve given some thought to what constitutes a responsive-friendly design process—and you’ve probably found that adding a mockup for every breakpoint isn’t a sustainable approach. Designing in code sounds like the answer, but you may be mystified at where to begin—or feel unmoored and disoriented at the prospect of giving up the approach you’ve long relied on. Enter responsive comping. This new, mockup-less web design process makes it easy to get that Photoshop monkey off your back, and have a fresh new beginning with your old friend the web browser.

  • Testing Websites in Game Console Browsers

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    Today’s game consoles may offer subpar web experiences with little browser choice, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore them. More than one in eight internet users in the UK, US, and France—and nearly one in four American teens—uses a game console to get online. As more console makers offer internet-capable devices—and as smart TVs continue to enter the market—now is the time to plan how our sites will adapt to these new contexts. Learn how to test your web content on phone consoles; handheld consoles like Sony PSP and Nintendo DS; and TV consoles like Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, and Microsoft Xbox 360.

  • Agreements = Expectations

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    Every client/vendor relationship is based on a set of expectations, whether they're stated or not. A lot can go unsaid or unspecified for any project, large and small. Not being specific can lead to disagreements, quarrels, and high blood pressure. But, it doesn't have to be this way. Greg Hoy says that while due diligence is important, being vague is a must. Yes, you read that right.

  • Building Books with CSS3

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    While historically, it's been difficult at best to create print-quality PDF books from markup alone, CSS3 now brings us the Paged Media Module, which targets print book formatting. "Paged" media exists as finite pages, like books and magazines, rather than as long scrolling stretches of text, like most websites. With a single CSS stylesheet, publishers can take XHTML source content and turn it into a laid-out, print-ready PDF. You can take your XHTML source, bypass desktop page layout software like Adobe InDesign, and package it as an ePub file. It's a lightweight and adaptable workflow, which gets you beautiful books faster. Nellie McKesson, eBook Operations Manager at O'Reilly Media, explains how to build books with CSS3.

  • Getting Clients

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    Co-founder of Mule Design and raconteur Mike Monteiro wants to help you do your job better. From contracts to selling design, from working with clients to working with each other, his new book from A Book Apart, released today, is packed with knowledge you can't afford not to know. A List Apart is pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 2 of Design Is a Job.

  • Style Tiles and How They Work

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    How do you involve your client in a successful design process? Many of our processes date back to print design and advertising. It’s time we evolved our deliverables to make clients a more active participant in the process. The style tile is a design deliverable that references website interface elements through font, color, and style collections delivered alongside a site map, wireframes, and other user experience artifacts. Learn how style tiles can align client and designer expectations, expedite project timelines, involve stakeholders in the brainstorming process, and serve an essential role in responsive design.