Design is iterative. And much of product design is iterating on someone else's ideas. Strictly speaking, successful products are built (and innovated on) using patterns that have proven to be successful in other places — say, traditional marketing. And as it turns out human motivations work in similar ways online and off.
There's an almost unlimited wealth of research and data about human psychology, behavioral tendencies and intricacies. It's widely available to curious designers everywhere. And that's the challenge — it's literally "everywhere." The research is scattered across hundreds of resources and only the bravest of design souls are ready to dig through it.
Reining in the Research
It's been a whole month since we launched Ink, our responsive email framework. And it's certainly been a busy month: After four patch releases, 30 closed GitHub issues, seven accepted pull requests, almost 3,000 stars and a surprisingly friendly hacker news thread later, we've learned a lot of lessons from the launch.
1. Test on Real Hardware
Even though we did a lot of testing with Litmus prior to launch, not every problem can be caught by a screen-capture tool. When we first launched, we had buttons that looked brilliant on almost every mail client, including all of the most popular ones. Unfortunately, they were completely unclickable in Outlook.
We could've caught the problem earlier had we tested the the email in a virtual machine or on an actual Windows computer with Outlook. While the issue has since been patched, the...
After hearing that song a lot at ZURB HQ, we've finally learned what the fox says. He says he's glad to be our newest ZURBian. Without further ado, let us introduce you to …
Alex Fox, Designer
Our newest ZURBian is an industry-hardened design cowboy from Dallas, Texas. So of course he loves good music, better barbecue and harbors a reputation for awesomeness.
As far back as Alex can remember, his life has revolved around technology. The many ways that devices enrich our day-to-day lives has always fascinated him. The best part for Alex — design is at the forefront of it all. For the past five years, he's sailed the high seas of agency life as a designer in print, web and everything in between. That experience helped him craft his arsenal of design skills.
Design has always been a huge part of my life. Even as a wee lad, I had a deeply profound passion for...
We've been talking a lot about frameworks lately, whether it's a responsive front-end one like Foundation or an email one like Ink. One of the advantages of a framework is that allows product designers to worry less about building across devices and spend more time improving their skills. After all, for a designer, there's always a new skill to learn or improve on.
For our team of product designers, the skill to keep pushing has been visual design. Our projects have always had a simple set up: one designer, one design lead. Since each designer owns the whole project from start to finish, they owned the visual exploration phase as well — until about a year ago. That's when we decided to spice things up and split the exploration between three designers, giving the team an opportunity to learn from each other. Which incidentally allowed us to show a greater variety of...
Since releasing Ink, our responsive email framework, we've received quite a few questions about the exact workflow for creating emails that work across devices. People also ask what we learned while building the framework that lead to that workflow ' and ultimately send effective email campaigns.
We've covered why we chose to make Ink an actual framework, not just another set of templates. Here's the recap: Frameworks extensible, proven bases to build upon. They provide practical coding standards that give you more freedom to design. And they allow you to create templates ''but they do more. Frameworks give you a process by which you can create and send out responsive emails.
The Responsive Email Workflow
One of the things we learned whilst building Ink was the importance of a process to sending out effective email campaigns. Working without a process can have...
Last week, Bryan touched upon the need for companies to have a responsive front-end framework and how we're doing to make sure that Foundation remains a professional solution. But we can't forget the open-source community that helped make our framework what it is today. And we've been constantly astonished by its continued growth. Today, we have 309 contributors on Github and millions of designers and developers are using the framework worldwide. We've made over 5,000 code commits with the help of the community as well. And with the launch of Foundation 5, we're thrilled to introduce a Forum to further foster that community.
Foundation Forum is a community first, support tool second
We want our fans to use the forum to ask and answer questions regarding responsive design and Foundation. Unlike GitHub, the Forum is your place to start a dialog with the...
The response to our Foundation 5 launch has been incredible. Over the first 36 hours, we had 190k visitors to our properties and 800k pageviews. The average time on Foundation was seven minutes. We reached 180 countries and territories in that time. Keep in mind, this is an open-source code project! It's amazing to be part of a project that millions of designers and engineers use on a daily basis.
What We Learned From Foundation
We've learned quite a bit about frameworks over the course of five Foundation releases. The first, and most valuable, is that creating something of value takes time. Lots of time. Foundation is now over two years old and we've committed and removed thousands of code bits. We've answered countless emails. Since April alone, we've answered over 3,000 cases via email. The ZURB team has been incredible and stepped up to support the...
We're thrilled to announce that Foundation 5.0 is available today for you to download. Foundation 4.0 rolled out nine months ago, and since then we haven't sat idle. We've been making steady improvements, culminating in the fastest, most efficient, and most advanced responsive CSS framework ever.
We can talk about mobile first, and the merits (or folly) of designing in the browser. But one factor has stayed constant since the beginning of the web: speed matters. Users abandon sluggish sites. Milliseconds cost Amazon millions. And we've heard it from our clients: when designing better products, performance is a priority.
To help you make products that don't leave people hanging, we've taken that priority to heart. Everything about Foundation 5 was tweaked — or rebuilt — for speed. Some turbo-charged examples:
Faster for Users
Interchange, our responsive image solution,...
Foundation 5 is upon us (like, tomorrow), and it is a faster, stronger, better Foundation. That's great for the millions of designers and developers using it in their workflow. More users mean more exposure to a different type of user — a type that is often overlooked by framework designers.
Larger teams have different needs from a lone designer or developer. There are a lot more variables for them to juggle: many people, each with their own goals; dealing with rigid business goals; and dealing with legacy code.
We're addressing those needs with Foundation 5 and beyond in several different ways, each focusing on a particular problem. We've kept Foundation true to its core value — to be a smarter way to code.
A Culture of Smart Coding
Create a culture of smart coding in your company. Foundation is mobile first, and coding the Foundation way will introduce your...
The final countdown to the release of Foundation 5 has already begun around ZURB HQ. And we can't wait to hear what y'all think. Whether it's via email, tweet or Github, we enjoy hearing from those using our framework. We also love it when we can meet face-to-face like at our Foundation meetups. Which is why we're really excited that next year we'll be going on a World Tour. We'll meet with our global audience and learning how they use Foundation to solve product design problems.
For two months in 2014, we'll pack our bags and jetset to 15 or more international locations, such as Melbourne, Buenos Aires, London and Munich. We're taking product design on the road so that we can go where our customers are. And with the global attention Foundation has garnered since its initial release in 2011, we could no longer sit still in our comfy chairs from little ole...
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