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
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!
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.
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.
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...
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.
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...
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...