A List Apart

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Topic: Process

  • I Don’t Like It

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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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.

  • 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.

  • A Moment to Breathe

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    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

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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.

  • It Is What It Is

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    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

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    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.