We're experiencing yet another growth spurt here at ZURB. This month we're boosting our Design Apps team with not one, but two new ZURBians — one engineer and one customer advocate! So without further ado, let's meet…
Bill Tran, Rails Engineer
Bill grew up copying comic books because he wanted to draw like a comic book artist. Yes, he was that kid who who drew Bart Simpson and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles everywhere he could find a place wide enough to fit "kowabunga!" As a teenager he taught himself how to breakdance, draw graffiti art and, best of all, to customize cars. That's when he found his calling.
Bill's interest in cars, especially building custom vehicles, revved his career in prototyping. He fell in love with industrial and automotive design, dreaming up ideas, iterating through designs and building the real thing. So he spent the last 10 years...
It's hard to accept you might be wrong and don't know what you're talking about. That's because we're socially ingrained to think that questions are a burden, that we need to have the right answers all the time. And if you don't you could be seen as an impostor.
We learn that it's wrong to ask people questions, such as "why did you paint your house that color" or "why are you still dating that person." You can be seen as offensive for asking why. Why? (See what we did there.) Because it implies that someone made the wrong decision. But that doesn't necessarily have to be the case, and it certainly doesn't mean the questioner is being confrontational. Really, in most cases, the asker wants to understand the thinking behind a decision.
Why is a powerful thing to ask if you really want to get to the bottom of something. Journalists ask lots of questions to get...
With the clock ticking last Thursday on our seventh ZURB Wired, the day began with intense brainstorms. It ended with a visual direction, print materials and a tone for a website. During the night, we toiled in code, creating a brand-spanking new site for nonprofit Sacred Heart in 24 hours. Today, we're officially launching that site redesign — the culmination of our work to mobilize the nonprofit for its upcoming holiday campaign.
We worked alongside Sacred Heart in a coffee-fueled 24 hour frenzy — and snapped 500 photos of our time together — to create an entire marketing push for their campaign that provides food for individuals and gifts for children during the holidays.
We're counting down the hours to tomorrow's ZURBwired event, our yearly design sprint to help a nonprofit through a marketing campaign. And we couldn't be more excited to work with Sacred Heart, this year's nonprofit! We want to thank all the nonprofits who sent in so many excellent proposals!
The timing couldn't be more right for Sacred Heart. This year, they're celebrating 50 years of their mission — to help struggling families get food and gifts for their children they need during the holidays.
Not only did the folks at Sacred Heart have a strong mission, but their team had the magic mix of energy and clear goals we look for in a nonprofit. And they're willing to lose an entire night's sleep to get things done.
We're impressed with Sacred Heart's overall mission: end poverty in the community they serve. They help more than 75,000 people and families that...
Product teams competing on features are racing to the bottom. The design process and the design feedback loop are crucial to a successful product, and this feedback isn't just important on fleshed out prototypes, but for initial rough ideas as well.
We talked about PRDs and the unnecessary constraints that an archaic document will place on the team and how that hinders innovation. Here, we will look at the situation from the opposite point of view — what kind of product will result from an uninhibited flow of ideas?
The Engine of Design Thinking
You'll hear us talk about this a lot. This is design thinking. Designers cannot succeed without a feedback loop made up of design work, feedback, and iteration. At the center of this is the design work, which is not important in itself, but it is a way to solicit feedback and get the conversation started. Feedback is the...
Wow! We're both humbled and awed by the excitement behind Foundation for Apps — hundreds of thousands of people reading, sharing and reaching out to us about it! The response has amped us up, and we're continuing to push forward.
As we've mentioned before, Foundation for Apps has three main parts: the Grid, AngularJS integration and Motion UI. We've discussed the Grid, we've shown how we made Foundation for Sites accessible, and now we want to chat a little about the web and motion.
An Open Web Always Wins
2014 is the year of "Native Apps vs. Web Apps." Dozens of Medium posts and tech blogs have exhausted the pros and cons of both, and the results are fairly consistent. The general consensus: web apps are ideal for limiting work for the business and maximizing reach, while native apps tend to feel more slick and put together.
"Slick" is often a term...
ZURB Wired — our yearly design sprint to help one nonprofit though a marketing campaign — is around the corner. This year's event is on September 18th. And we're ready to take applications from interested nonprofits.
Just as we gear up for this year's event, we want to give a special shoutout to our friends at Rebekah Children's Services, who just redid their site on Foundation for Sites. They were 2011's Wired nonprofit and they took what they learned from working with us, and used that knowledge when it came to their website refresh.
In every Wired event we work alongside the nonprofit's team, teaching them how do more with less using Design Thinking and a feedback loop. And it's satisfying to see that our previous nonprofits continue to take what they learned and keep winning.
(Design) Thinking It Through
Tell us if this has happened to you. You've had a brilliant idea while collaborating with a teammate and sketched it out on the whiteboard. You don't want to lose your idea, so you snap a photo of it. Then you get back to your desk 15 minutes later. Voila! It looks awful. There's a glare from the lighting and you can't make out what you've sketched.
It's happened to us. You'd think that recording a collaborative whiteboard sketch would be easy — grab a smartphone, tap a button, and you've got a pic. In reality, we've had to squint our eyes and say, "Here's a layout. If you squint at this part ... ". Not ideal. And communicating our ideas is important, so we came up with a little photo trick.
Last time on the blog, we told you about the new grid in Foundation for Apps. A new framework doesn't mean we've abandoned Foundation 5, which is now part of a larger Foundation family that also includes responsive emails. Today, we're excited about our latest release of Foundation for Sites — version 5.4.
This isn't just another point release. It's a step toward creating a fully-mature framework that's accessible for everyone. Yep, you heard right — accessible. Along with the usual stellar fixes and features — like multi-level off-canvas navigation — we focused on web accessibility for this release.
A lot of good people have been making the web more accessible for people with vision, hearing and motor skill impairments. More and more designers are talking about accessibility. That's because the web is maturing and becoming less of a wild, wild west. There are...
Those who believe that great design speaks for itself are likely not in the problem solving business, and that results in dumb design. Product design problems are messy and twisted, and the only way to get them untangled is to talk them out and get teams aligned on the path forward. Designers, often eager to fight for their seat at the so-called table, underestimate the training it takes to win over the Devil's Advocate in a work session or presentation.
Design work needs to be strategically presented, and conversation delicately controlled. Beside being data analysts, interaction gurus and code junkies, every product designer needs to have a bit of a salesman in him. Not the slimy let-me-tell-you-what-you-need type, but more of a smart conversationalist, who plays to his strengths and knows how to shut down doubts in his audience.
These skills can be developed...
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