Putting Together the Bricks and Pieces of Foundation's Components

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Illustration of the Yeti with a pile of Legos

Wouldn't it be nice if websites were created like Legos? Those little bricks and pieces are great because you can use the included patterns and make something stylish, or mix all your pieces together to create a truly custom masterpiece. All you need are lots of useful pieces to choose from and a vision. You can design something beautiful, or make a crazy and amazing contraption. Unfortunately the web doesn't quite work like that. Maybe in the future it will. Until then, we're working toward a vision with Foundation — to include the pieces you need to put together amazing creations.

With Foundation, we work hard to stay out of your way as you design. We want you to make Foundation your own, as you see fit, like we do on each client project. In our last post, we touched on ways to streamline the codebase for faster load times and make CSS more manageable. Some...
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Design for Influence

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It's an amazing time of change for design organizations, whether you work in a design agency or in-house team. Design is hot. But design organizations are not without their problems. In my previous post on agencies, we addressed the challenges and the upside design service firms face. Companies are repeating the same bad habits that they've learned from their design agency counterparts.

As an industry we're leaving a lot on the table as our collective stock rises in organizations. Companies' knee-jerk reaction to become design centric have left many design organizations scrambling to figure out how to put the pieces together. Designers are still mopping up implementation problems — still shaking the label of window dressers. Quite frankly, we've gotten really good at these problems and service firms have perfected the art of making money on this effort. We're designing for...
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Stop Designing So Much

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Designers have an urge, an aching, for creating something unique. Whether we're following current trends or bringing back the well-forgotten past, we're trying to outdo ourselves or each other, to combine elements just so, hoping to make our peers [secretly] wish they'd thought of that design solution. And sometimes, our search for that design epiphany can send us on a goose chase for frivolous, unnecessary visual elements and interactions, which leave our work muddled and confused.

Busy, complex design can be quite brilliant too. Being able to balance a ton of seemingly unrelated elements is an art in itself. And it's really hard to pull off! Although, is it harder to conduct an entire string orchestra or produce a violin solo that breaks someone's heart?

It's the question that designers must have been contemplating since — well ' always. And it appears that in any design...
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Shoppers Don't Want Your M-Dot Site

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ecommerce mobile

Imagine for a sec that you're an ecommerce retailer. It's Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States and the cornerstone sales day of brick-and-mortar stores. But you get a huge spike of traffic and someone snags a $25,000 clutch from a mobile device. Which is exactly what happened one Black Friday for One King's Lane.

That one incident pushed One King's Lane to focus on perfecting their mobile shopping experience. As Doug Mack, then-CEO of One King's Lane, said:

Your business model either leans on mobile or it doesn't.

At the time, 30% of One King's Lane traffic came from a mobile device, most of that from a tablet. Sales from mobile make up one-third of One King's Lane sales. So the retailer worked furiously on releasing a universal iOS app, but haven't done a responsive site. Instead, they have a server-side adaptive site. A lot of...
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Stuff Isn't Culture

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perks

Perks don't create loyalty and those things don't get people invested. When we talk about perks, we're talking about stuff. You know: the pool tables, the cell phone, the fridge full of beer. But those are "benefits," not culture.

And that's exactly what dozens of articles focus on when it comes to culture — the stuff, the nice-to-haves, such as an inspired workspace and healthy food options. But focusing on perks might not keep your workers from fleeing for greener pastures. Take a look at Google. The search engine giant has one of the best perks in the Valley hands-down but one of the highest turnover rates with the average employing sticking around for a little over a year, even with pay in the six figures. Google isn't the only one. The average stay at any job is nine months, according to a Payscale survey. Even Amazon employees bolt after a year. Although a few have called ...
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Mesmerize Users With Something Unexpected

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surprise!

You're out on the town with friends and you decide to find a place to eat. Whipping out your cell phone, you launch the Yelp app and scroll through nearby restaurants. Suddenly, you see it peeking at you from behind the menu — a hamster. You begin pulling the menu down to set it free only to watch the hamster jump into a rocket and blast off!

Did this funny easter egg help you accomplish your task? No. But did it bring a little joy or excitement to the experience? Definitely.

This kind of unexpected detail is an example of "Surprise and Delight," a design trigger that can make any experience more exciting and keep users engaged. Two talented designers recently came through ZURB HQ to get on their Soapboxes with different perspectives about surprise and delight and the role it plays in their designs.

Marissa Louie, of Yahoo, brought up the word "enchantment"...
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Hit the Weights and Take the Bloat Out of Frameworks

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Frameworks come under fire for being bloated. Some say they're too time consuming to style, and you can spend too much time overwriting styles. Or wrestling with important statements. Or removing unwanted code. Some say they come with too much stuff and at the same time complain that what is offered in a framework is not used.

Illustration of the Yeti running quickly

It's great to have many components with built-in styles when prototyping, but having these styles will inevitably require CSS overrides — unless you want all your sites to look the same. But frameworks give us a common language for designing websites. Not just HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but also a repeatable base from which to build faster. People need a place to start their projects. Foundation was made for you to build off-of and make it your own. Frameworks don't make sites and apps for you, they help you get to end result more...
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The Pit of Despair and Dealing With Your Product Design Feelings

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Improve morale by pulling your own weight

A product designer's journey is filled with wonder. It can also be rife with peril and despair. So how do you enjoy the awesome parts of product design without letting the negative parts discourage you and get you down?

A Product Design Odyssey

We design products at ZURB. We design products with clients, with internal teams, and we train people to do the same in their companies. Since 1998 we've been helping people design products and we've learned that amazing sparks can happen when teams work together seamlessly. We also learned that if good flow is interrupted it's hard to get up and be productive again. We put together a list of our top seven product design challenges and how we've overcome them.

Feel #1: Getting a Crew Together

Getting a team together is a risky challenge for everyone involved. Learning to improve your value as a team member is an ongoing...
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Engineers Don't Build Products, They Design Them

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In one of our Chief Instigator's previous posts, we talked about how we can no longer think about design as being purely the domain of designers. Everyone on your team needs to design, especially your engineers. In fact, if you take a look, you'll most likely find that your engineering team is already making the majority of your interaction design decisions.

developer plans

Creating Product is Like Creating a Building

There is a fundamental misunderstanding about the role the engineers play in building products. Let's articulate this with an analogy.

Creating a product is like creating a building. You have an architect that defines what the building should look like. He imagines the building and creates a design for how the building should look and function. The architect works with a structural engineer to create a blueprint defining how the building should be built based on...
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Fat Cows, Disillusioned Scarecrows and Greener Design Pastures

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In my past post, our assertion that Silicon Valley killed the design agency agitated quite a few industry design leaders. The post was a wake up call, not a proclamation of the end of design services. Status quo is a sure death and others seem to agree. The argument isn't whether agencies will win or lose, it's which organizations will win the design talent battle to remain relevant.

The debate is nuanced and based on more than just business cycles. Agencies do themselves no good holding on to assumptions that all things will be fine in services moving forward or that there will be a nice living doing design. Change is all but certain. Yes, service firms will exist, just not yours. The problem of building a great design organization is challenging as many evolve to polishing shiny buttons over and over. Which gets us to fat cows, disillusioned scarecrows and...
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