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.
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.
Conference Proposals that Don’t Suck
Conference proposals seem simple enough: throw your thoughts into a text form on a website, keep them within the suggested word limit, and hit send with high hopes of winning over organizers. But there’s much more to a successful conference proposal than meets the eye, and Russ Unger is here to walk through the steps involved with getting your germ of an idea into a polished state that will impress any committee.
UX for the Enterprise
Enterprise UX often involves navigating cumbersome processes, ancient technology, and clients skeptical of design’s value. Yet Fortune 500 companies are often the ones most in need of well-designed internal tools. Jordan Koschei takes us through common problems lurking in global organizations—and how we can improve people’s lives by giving internal tools the same attention as consumer interfaces.
Cultivating the Next Generation of Web Professionals
One of the most meaningful and lasting ways we can impact the future of the web is through the values and attitudes we instill in the next generation of web workers. Through informal mentoring, classroom outreach, internships, and more, we can offer support and opportunities to those new to digital professions. Georgy Cohen suggests practical ways to connect with students and welcome them wholeheartedly into the web community.
Before You Hire Designers
If you’re thinking of working with a designer for your next web project and aren’t sure where to begin, Mike Monteiro has you covered. His new book, You’re My Favorite Client, walks you through the entire process of finding, hiring, and working with a designer from a manager’s perspective. In this excerpt from Chapter 2, Mike lays out the first steps for figuring out just what kind of designer you need in the first place—and how you’ll find the right candidates for the job.
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.
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.
Living up to Your (Business) Ideals
We all want to do work that matches our values—that lets us live up to our ideals for the world. But we also want to keep the lights on, make payroll, and maybe even grow. How can we design our agencies, studios, or freelance businesses to do both? Geoff DiMasi says the answer is in establishing a vision for your work, and directly tying that vision to the way you evaluate prospective clients and projects—and he’s here to help you get started.
People Skills for Web Workers
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.