Design Collaboration is Lonely

Ryan wrote this on January 22, 2014 in , . It has 6 comments.

A designer works alone on sketches.

When it comes to collaboration, you need two or more to tango. You can't collaborate all by your lonesome. Well, you could, but then you'd be Edward Norton in "Fight Club" conspiring with Tyler Durden. But to get the most out of a collaboration you have to do design work upfront. And that can be a lonely effort, even in an open-office environment that encourages collaboration.

Let's define design collaboration first. It's Design Thinking in action. When you have a creative team with fantastic ideas, sometimes things can get a bit fuzzy. After doing work, you need a second opinion because you're too close to your ideas. Collaboration allows you to get feedback on those ideas. You might find new sparks in that collaboration, or you might find that your ideas aren't quite cooked. It's easier to collaborate when you don't have a physical...
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Use More, Build Less
Lessons That Influenced Ink

Eric wrote this on January 08, 2014 in . It has 2 comments.

Now that our responsive email framework Ink has been out for a couple months, we've had the pleasure of watching our "baby" grow up. We've seen people using Ink on bigger and bigger projects, giving us even more validation that there's a need for a responsive email framework like ours. This validation provided us with a good deal of encouragement. Better yet, it gave us the freedom focus on refining the product itself, rather than trying to establish its niche in the market.

Inky holding devices

Since the launch, we've been doing a lot of responsive emails with Ink ourselves. We've converted all our newsletters (12 monthly campaigns that reach over 100k people) to Ink, as well as generated a lot of content examples for blog posts, the responsive email newsletter and our responsive email training class. More importantly, we've been in contact with a lot of users about their emails...
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How to Lose All Your Content Search Ranking: A Cautionary Tale

Matt wrote this on January 07, 2014 in , , . It has 5 comments.

Not too long ago we gave our Playground page a brand-new responsive polish. The Playground is one of the last ones we made responsive. And when we finally released its update, something horrible happened — our search ranking evaporated until nothing was left.

screenshot of Google Analytics that shows our search rank dropping off

A screenshot of Google Analytics showing our search rank dropping off.

When launching a new product or a redesign, we usually mind our Ps and Qs. We have a laundry list of things that we check, double check and, sometimes, triple check. Since Playground gets a ton of search traffic, we tripled-checked all the SEO things we knew, such as:

  • Titles
  • Keywords
  • URLs and redirects

We even fixed a number of things broken in the previous site. But that due diligence didn't seem to be enough. Week after week, we watched in horror as our search ranking dropped and dropped and dropped to nothing. We didn't even rank for...
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Why We Dropped Zepto

Ben wrote this on January 03, 2014 in . It has 17 comments.

illustration of the Yeti leaning on jQuery. Most of Foundation's components lean on jQuery.

Deep inside his icy cave, the wise and powerful Yeti heard people asking, "Where did Zepto go?" Back when Foundation 4 was being conceived we switched to Zepto (with a jQuery option) for its smaller file size and faster load time.

But over time we found that lighter file size did not translate into better performance overall. Sure, Zepto downloaded quickly. But once loaded, it wasn't quite as fast as jQuery. It didn't help that many third-party plugins required jQuery, not Zepto — in fact, we found that some third party JavaScripts conflicted outright with Zepto.

Maintaining different code bases wasn't easy for us, either. For example, Zepto lacks a proper height calculation function, making certain grid calculations difficult.

To solve all this, the answer was clear as a spring Himalayan sky: Foundation 5 uses jQuery 2. In addition to better speed and industry acceptance, jQuery 2...
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What's Ahead in 2014 for Responsive Web Design?

Jonathan wrote this on December 31, 2013 in . It has 6 comments.

carnac

2013 was a big year for responsive design. In fact, if you read around the Web a bit you might hear that 2013 was the "Year of Responsive Design". That might be true — around the turn of last year, there were major sites coming out with responsive designs, like Time Magazine or Mashable (and frankly, thousands of others). If nothing else, 2013 was the year of responsive design going mainstream, even becoming something designers and consumers just expect to see. That's pretty hot.

2013 was also a big year for responsive tools: Foundation 4 came out in February, Bootstrap 3 came out in August and Foundation 5 came out just a few weeks ago. Yahoo! got in the game in May with the release of Pure, and the team at Thoughtbot has continued to push Bourbon Neat. There were new plugins, polyfills and practices that became popular in 2013. In general, building...
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Building a Learning Organization: Top 10 Things We Did in 2013

Ben wrote this on December 27, 2013 in , , . It has 1 comment.

We always look ahead to new ideas, new events, and new ways to help people make great products. But as we close out 2013, we also stop to look back — and what a view it is. This was the year we brought into sharp focus our educational efforts with the launch of ZURB University, a better strong Foundation, new apps and improved ones. So let's take a look at 2013 ...

1. We Acquired Forrst

forrst acquired

The design and developer community Forrst joined our family in January. We acquired this feedback community because we wanted to help people iterate through their work and learn from helping others. We saw an opportunity to build upon what founder Kyle Bragger started and make Forrst a place of active learning.

2. The Smartest Foundation Yet!

Foundation 4

We launched Foundation 4 in February. This was the Foundation that changed everything and helped product designers build responsive...
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Using Interchange to Load the Right HTML for the Right Browser

Mark wrote this on December 23, 2013 in . It has 3 comments.

Visibility classes let us show web page elements that are appropriate for certain devices. For example, sometimes we want small images on small screens, but larger versions for desktop browsers. Other times, we don't want to burden mobile users with full desktop navigation bars. Visibility classes let us hide design elements that are inappropriate for each viewport.

But users still have to download both versions, wasting time, browser memory and bandwidth. So we built Interchange and baked it into Foundation, the easiest way to selectively add content to your page based on a media query. With Interchange, each browser downloads what they need, not what every browser might possibly need. In this blog post we'll cover some basic ways you can use Interchange with HTML content.

If you'd like to follow along you can download the zip package. It contains everything...
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15 Days of ZURBmas: How a Flexible Process Helped Us

Shawna wrote this on December 19, 2013 in . Add a comment

On the first day of ZURBmas, a ZURBian gave to me … an hour-glass with cards. OK, we won't bore you with our caroling. But it's pretty amazing to see our annual gifts get into the hands of our customers and friends who've supported us over the years. And wouldn't have been able to get them there without the entire team helping and applying a flexible process. And the last part is what got us over humps in the project.

gift images

A collection of photos taken by our friends and customers.

This year's gift was based on Friday 15, which are creative challenges that our entire team does every Friday afternoon. We started doing these fun exercises a while ago to hone our product design and problem-solving skills. It's become part of our culture and allows members of the team that don't usually work together team up (pun intended). While we had a concept, we needed to approach...
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Like Ninjas, Great Ideas Aren't Always Visible at First Glance

Alina wrote this on December 13, 2013 in , , . Add a comment

Conventions tend to turn invisible. Like ninjas, they blend into the background. We blithely accept that privacy policies, for example, are long blocks of indecipherable, dull, gray text. They don't encourage people to understand what tapping that "I agree" button actually commits them to. As a result, few people read fine print thoroughly.

But privacy advocate Michelle Dennedy wanted to make her company's policy more engaging. Doing so would explain how would make privacy policy more than just an obligatory legal form. As she put it in a ZURB Soapbox:

Not just write policies, but to build fabric, and build culture and build passion, and build architecture and engineering behind human rights."

Don't be Afraid to Suggest Outlandishly Creative Ideas

Michelle said most agencies took the traditional route to learn project scope, asking questions about format and...
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Pull the Trigger on User Experiences With Design Triggers

Alina wrote this on December 10, 2013 in , , . Add a comment

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.

a couple of triggers

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

If not brave, we're definitely zealous. We set out to collect psychological motivators in a resource library and, like much of everything else we do, make it available to...
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