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All Heart and No Sleep: Mobilizing Nonprofit Sacred Heart in 24 Hours

Ryan wrote this on September 24, 2014 in . It has 117 reactions

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 guided Sacred Heart through the same design process and methods we use in our Studios work. Our goal with Wired: to help nonprofits, such as Sacred Heart, learn how to do more with less and mobilize in shorter bursts. When you work in smaller teams and in short bursts, you can accomplish amazing things. Which is exactly what happened during Wired.

We had smaller teams — web, print, engineering and content — all working in concert through the day and throughout the night. At the end of it all, we were able to accomplish a staggering amount of work.

Here's a complete look at we created in that 24 hour time crunch.

Posters, Brochures and Cards ... Oh My!

thank you cards

Our focus in the first half of the day was print. We had a tight deadline and our print team hustled to get the brochures, posters and thank you cards designed. Along the way, we got feedback from Sacred Heart, quickly iterating on our designs.

Here's what the design team produced:

  • A 8.5 X 11 poster
  • A 12 X 18 poster
  • A trifold brochure
  • A 'thank you' card
  • Postcards


But once the print deadline was met, the team didn't stop. Over the course of the night, they also designed a few other items, which we handed over as digital files. Here's the additional material we created:

  • A poster for their donation barrels
  • A drive kit for corporations
  • A promotional building banner
  • A sponsorship brochure

A Brand-Spanking New Website Sacred Heart site

The web team drew from the visual inspiration of the print team. While the print team was focused on their deadline, the web team created sketches and wireframes, before they moved into code. During the night, they coded furiously to get the site shipshape. Their work included:

  • A comprehensive content overhaul
  • A new custom WordPress theme
  • Custom fields for page headlines specific to their design
  • A calendar/events manager

A New Promotional Video


As if we didn't have enough to do, we also did put together a new promotional video for Sacred Heart. The two-minute video promotes the upcoming holiday drive — calling on folks to volunteer or donate food. All of this centered around the story of Erica, who works for Sacred Heart and whose own family was once helped by the organization.

Lasting Change

ZURB and Sacred Heart teams

The changes aren't just for this holiday campaign. Sacred Heart hopes to use what they learned for many years to come. As Jay Pecot, Director of Development and Communications says:

Even with an improved economy, more people than ever before are seeking Sacred Heart's help. That is why Wired was such a tremendous experience for us. This year, because of ZURB's help, we are ready for our holiday fundraising campaign celebrating our 50th birthday with a comprehensive set of paper and electronic communications.

During Wired, we watched carefully how ZURB's staff took us through the design process. We are going to do the same for our next big campaign. And most importantly, we will set aside time to build the campaign together, rather than fitting it in-between other tasks.

Thank you, ZURB.

Thank you, Sacred Heart, from all of us at ZURB. We can't wait to see what Sacred Heart creates in the future.

See the New Sacred Heart Site


ZURB Wired 2014 is Near! Announcing Sacred Heart as This Year's Nonprofit

Ryan wrote this on September 17, 2014 in . It has 54 reactions

sacred heart logo

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 struggle to make ends meet. They have a small staff and an army of volunteers, so they know how to work together to get results. And they're ready to get to work on this year's Wired:

We are psyched and ready to work with ZURB for Wired this year. Thousands of families will turn to Sacred Heart Community Service this year in order to celebrate the holidays with food and toys. Redesigning our holiday campaign will mean we can reach throughout Silicon Valley and engage the community in this effort.

—Jay Pecot, Director of Development and Communications

sacred heart volunteers

Sacred Heart volunteers organizing holiday food boxes.

We'll help them with the marketing campaign for their holiday push and 50th anniversary. We'll work on a brand strategy and designs for their holiday campaign, including a website, brochures, posters and other goodies.

All of this will be done in a tight 24-hour timebox using our our design process and goal-oriented teamwork. Our goal with Wired is to educate nonprofits to do more with less resources. And we'll work closely with Sacred Heart so that they can continue building great things for years to come long after Wired is done.

Wired gets underway tomorrow, Sept. 18 at 8 AM and goes until Sept. 19 at 8 AM.

Follow Our Progress


Calling All Nonprofits: We're Taking Applications for This Year's ZURB Wired

Ryan wrote this on August 27, 2014 in . It has 52 reactions

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.

photo of people sketching ideas during ZURB wired 2014

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

When we first helped Rebekah Children's Services, we built their site on Foundation 2. It was one of the earliest sites built on our framework. So it was understandable that they'd need a refresh on the site.

screenshots of the new Rebekah Children Services Site, its sketch, prototype and wireframe

From prototype to page: our original RCS site.

Director of IT Scott Olsen told us that ZURB's Design Process came in handy when doing the redesign. He said they were able to think thoroughly through this update. They used the process to identify key areas — such as typography, top visited pages, use cases and calls to action — to optimize.

screenshot of the new Rebekah Children Services site

RCS's new site.

They also used Foundation for Sites to prototype layouts and menu options, which came in handy for their A/B testing. According to Scott, off-canvas was the clear favorite so that's what they implemented. But they weren't satisfied with testing only. As Scott said:

Along the way, we gathered feedback from people to ensure the design was on the right track and adjusted accordingly.

But implementation wasn't the only thing RCS learned from Wired. The first website taught them a lot about the usefulness of analytics, the potential of social media and the importance of responsive design, said Scott. And, of course, keeping their audience in mind.

A Design Process Makes Nonprofits Think Strategically

Last year, we helped Rebuilding Together Peninsula, to create a marketing campaign that celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2014. The Design Process got them all on the same page as to the exact look and feel they wanted to represent their organization.

screenshot of the new Rebuilding Together Peninsula site

The site we built for RTP's Anniversary.

More than that, the Design Process really pushed RTP to think more strategically about what the message they were trying to convey, said Associate Director Carilee Peng Chan. As she said:

Conceptually, it makes sense, but living it for 24 hours with the ZURB team really drove the message home with our core team. By working with us to redesign our core communication and marketing assets, I feel like ZURB really gave us an incredible foundation to build on.

RTP has continued to refer to the material we created for them. Cari said that those materials continue to be their starting point when evaluating what and how they need to communicate their message. Executive Director Seana O'Shaughnessy added:

We were really inspired by the entire process and have used it as a touchstone in our decision-making throughout the year.

Become This Year's Wired Nonprofit

We are now accepting application for this year's Wired. The deadline is . If you're a nonprofit that's interested, here's what your proposal needs to have:

If you're a nonprofit that needs help getting over a hump, here's what your proposal needs to include:

  1. Inspire us with your organization's mission.
  2. Name three teamwork tactics that will make your organization a perfect fit for ZURBwired!
  3. Describe a clear goal that your entire organization wants to accomplish.
  4. Say which team members will be committed to participating all day and night.
  5. Name one or two people from the team who are capable of making executive decisions on the organization's behalf — there's no time to consult with the board at two in the morning!

Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be reviewing submissions and picking one nonprofit to work with. So what are you waiting for?

Submit Your Nonprofit's Proposal


Mobilizing Nonprofits Through Design Thinking: Announcing ZURB Wired 2014!

Ryan wrote this on July 28, 2014 in . It has 95 reactions

We're gearing up for our seventh ZURB Wired event, where we work alongside a nonprofit to get over a design hump. The catch: everything has to be done in a 24 hour time crunch.

We've worked with a number of nonprofits over our 16 years. We've noticed that an inspiring mission wasn't always enough to propel a nonprofit to success. For nonprofits, that mission is half the battle. The other half, however, is volunteers.

Volunteers come and go, like the ebb of a river, because life gets in the way. Nonprofits are constantly competing for a volunteer's free time. There are a dozen distractions that can get in the way. So it becomes very hard for nonprofits to mobilize their volunteers and get stuff done. Projects can linger and it seems like nothing will ever move, especially web-based projects. Everyone loses focus and sight. Priorities shift. A web project can be put way down on the list as nonprofits have to reallocate resources elsewhere.

Worse, if an organization is wildly inefficient or disorganized, then it's likely to see a quicker volunteer exodus. One of the recommendations to prevent volunteer burnout (and thus departure) is better project management.

Mobilize in Shorter Bursts

The solution: leverage those volunteer skills for shorter periods of time. Mobilizing teams in a tighter time constraint keeps team members focused. Which is what we at ZURB do for every client project we have, and it's a skill we pass on to the nonprofits that participate in our annual ZURB Wired event. We've been doing Wired since 2006 and helping nonprofits accomplish a specific goal — such as an entire marketing campaign that includes print and web materials — within a 24-hour sprint.

The timebox — an ultimate one of 24 hours — we're able to keep the nonprofit fixated and move quickly through decisions. Instead of waiting for every decision to be thought out and validated over the course of weeks, months, years — it takes mere hours as we move through our entire design process from ideation to prototype to implementation.

Do More With Less

We also work in smaller teams, doing more with less. A common problem faced by nonprofits is throwing too many bodies at a problem and not everyone can contribute. Smaller teams allow us to move quickly through iterations. What gets us moving fast is the design feedback loop.

ZURB feedback loop

Our Design Feedback Loop at ZURB.

The design feedback loop is the cornerstone of ZURB Wired. We work side-by-side with the nonprofit, teaching them design thinking and coaching them through the feedback loop. More importantly, we involve the stakeholders at every stage of the game, getting their feedback so that we can validate ideas quickly and get to the right answer.

Last year, we worked with Rebuilding Together Peninsula. They needed help creating a campaign — including a new website and a video — for their 25th anniversary. We began by exploring many options, either through brainstorms or sketches. We broke up into specific teams: content, print, web and video.

Executive Director Seana O'Shaughnessy jumped from team to team, listening to each team's ideas and giving feedback at each step. This allowed us to cut out the middleman and get direct feedback so that we could move forward.

Stay on Target

But making decisions on the fly isn't always smooth. There are going to be bumps. And as you approach a crucial deadline, there's bound to be panic. One year that's exactly what happened.

Nonprofits are programmed to get every last detail right before taking action. And it can be scary to let things go, which happened when it came to our print deadline. All the print materials, artwork and copy, had to be at the printers by 5 PM. For example, we had a nonprofit's team still fiddling with the copy, even though we'd long agreed on a direction and had it proofread. They floundered a bit on what we had written. But it was too late — the copy had already been sent to the printers. We had to reassure them that we were on the right path. It also helped that one of the nonprofit's manager loved the copy that was written. And he was the one person the nonprofit said we'd have the hardest time getting approval from. He actually felt at ease with the process and moving through fast decisions.

In these moments, the best advice comes from "Star Wars" — stay on target. Remember the end goal and don't allow yourself get caught up in minutiae. Focusing on the goal helps push through anxieties and create amazing work.

Want to Participate in Wired or Know of a Nonprofit?

If you're a nonprofit or know of a nonprofit that needs help mobilizing its team, we'd love to hear from you. You can email us at [email protected] or you can give us your email and we'll reach out to you.


Want to be the next Wired nonprofit or know of a nonprofit?

'Happyimadesignr' Joins the ZURBians

Shawna wrote this on July 22, 2014 in . It has 21 reactions

A 'happyimadesignr' isn't a strange creature from a strange land. It's actually the screen name of our latest designer, who joined us this week.

So without further ado, let's introduce —

Jennifer Tang, Designer

Jennifer Tang, designer

The nickname of 'happyimadesignr' came about after Jennifer designed her first website, and it perfectly describes the excitement and satisfaction she felt in that moment. And while she's designed other things, her passion is for interaction design and the web. That makes her the perfect addition to our wacky team at ZURB.

Believe it or not, Jennifer did have a life before ZURB. Born and raised in San Jose, Jennifer's desire to create came from her great-grandmother's side, which is full of artists, and her grandfather, who is a renowned painter. You could say that creativity is in her blood. She's always crafting small art projects, but didn't discover design until she started blogging and customizing her blog. She then designed websites and flyers for her church — and that was it, she was hooked!

Jennifer got her BFA in Graphic Design from San Jose State. While she pulled many all-nighters at SJSU, Jennifer made some great friends. Now she's joined us at ZURB to do what she does best — use her skills to solve problems and create beautiful, smart designs.

Using technology to create something that is both visually engaging and also solves problems excites me. I love how design works to communicate a message.

When she's not solving tough design problems, she's spending time with her husband and their pets, a black cat named Sammy and a border collie/springer spaniel mix named Jojo. She often runs the Los Gatos Creek trail and gets her workout on at the gym.


Create Blurred Images With HTML5 Canvas

Geoff wrote this on June 20, 2014 in . It has 280 reactions

We love experimenting with emerging features of CSS3 like gradients and shadows. Today we're releasing another slick effect onto the Playground that follows the spirit of those effects and lets you create a blurred background like the ones you see on Rdio.

Our new Image Blur Texture tool takes a photo, blurs and enlarges it, and turns it into an abstract yet appealing background texture. You can use it on any block element — it stretches to fill any space just fine.

Using HTML5's Canvas or CSS3's filter effects, we take any old image, stretch it and blur it, to create a nice mottled texture effect. We've written a CodePen with all the code you need to mess around with it yourself. And look no further than the next iteration of Forrst, which will use image blurs in its headers.

Blur Your Images


A Designer With a Head for Business: Introducing Our Newest ZURBian

Shawna wrote this on June 18, 2014 in . It has 20 reactions

Imagine it's your first day on the job. You stroll into a new environment a little bit nervous. New faces want to shake your hand. Then, the coffee machine explodes, spewing coffee all over the kitchen floor. That was Keri's first day as our new Business Designer. You can say we certainly made it a day to remember for her.

Every moment for Keri is her favorite moment, and the coffee machine exploding is now among them. If you're going to leave an impression, either go big or go home, right? Well, enough of that, let's introduce you to Keri!

Keri Fullwood, Business Designer

casual photo of Business Designer Keri Fullwood

Before exploding coffee makers, Keri bolted from her hometown of LA to study Marketing and Business at a computing/video game school in Scotland. To make her way through school, Keri worked as a freelance designer and web developer for local papers and magazines. She gained some valuable on-the-job experience that she'd later use in life (like here at ZURB).

Keri stuck around Scotland after graduating, working for a security software company managing accounts. Because Keri's also a bit of a shutterbug, she created a small photography team as a side project. But nine years of sideways pouring rain eventually drove Keri to move back to her native home of California. So we have the rain to thank for having Keri on our team!

As our new Business Designer, Keri's design background will help her work closely with our clients and customers to figure out ways to better solve their problems. And she can't wait to get to work on our annual 24-hour design sprint to help a local nonprofit, ZURB Wired.

I'm only new, but I'm really excited about Wired mostly because if I have one skill, it's staying awake for unnecessarily long periods of time.

When she's not solving problems in technology and design, or watching Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, Keri snaps pictures and goes on adventures! So please everyone welcome Keri!


Design, Pizza and Cats. Introducing Our Newest ZURBian

Shawna wrote this on May 29, 2014 in . It has 25 reactions

The title says it all. Those are the three things that roll around in the mind of our former intern turned full-fledged ZURBian. It's all he thinks about. After all, aren't those the only things that matter in life? We think so, which is why we asked him to come back. OK, that wasn't the only reason. He's a really talented fella.

So it's our pleasure to introduce you to …

Geoff Kimball, Designer

photo of Geoff

We've missed Geoff since his internship ended last year, so it's nice to have him back! It's also nice to have another Hoosier in 'da house.

Raised in the quiet suburbs of Fisher, Indiana, Geoff fell in love with technology at an early age — way back in the dark days of dial-up modems. His love grew to include design while studying at Ball State's Emerging Technologies department.

As he told us:

I developed a fascination with how people interact with technology and incorporate it into their lives. By the time I graduated high school, I knew design was in my future.

He even got to tinker on websites and apps for the university, Ball State's first National Science Foundation grant and even the Indiana state government. So you could say, he got a little experience before coming to ZURB as a summer intern.

From Intern to ZURBian

When it came to applying for a ZURB internship, Geoff didn't just send his resume. He actually built a website to show us why he was the right guy for the job! Unfortunately, the site is no longer up. But trust us, it was impressive and got him the gig.

As an intern, Geoff didn't fetch coffee and answer phones. Nope, we put him to work, tasking him with updating our oldest property — the Playground. It was built on our old code, CSS Grid Builder, which you can consider to be Foundation's ancestor. He took that gnarly code and updated the entire Playground to be responsive. Quite a feat!

He also took a casual idea mentioned in a meeting and, a few days later, came back with a completely new product, Wrangle, which let's you ... wait for it ... wrangle up images using your fingers.

So you can see why we brought Geoff back on board as a full-fledged ZURBian! Now everyone please welcome Geoff!


All Your Mock Copy, Mocked Up.
Introducing Laura Ipsum!

Ryan wrote this on April 01, 2014 in . It has 51 reactions

Just when you thought we were done at Foundation. Just when you thought we couldn't get any better than "Lol and Order: CSS". Now we're mocking ... up your copy.

We're proud to announce, Laura Ipsum, our newest service and the latest in all your prototyping and mock-up needs. We've even hired a Laura Ipsum (what are the odds?). A 20-something with the wit to write all the Lorum Ipsum you ever wanted for your prototypes.

Totes McGoats! Lorem Ipsum is my fav!

Laura will be writing in her own unique voice, from the perspective of a 20-something living in the high-paced, high-tech world of Silicon Valley. Or is it just the Valley? Doesn't matter. It'll be words to tickle your prototype. Here's what she has to say about her new job:

Totes McGoats. ZURB is total amazeballs. So sauceome. Can't wait to do Fireball shots with the ZURBians. OMG. Right? So cray cray. Turn up, a'right. Hashtag twerksies4lyfe.

A recent graduate of Claremont High School, Laura is an expert in all things Lorem Ipsum. She was all A's in her dummy copywriting class. Here's an interesting tidbit: she can type nonsense at 100 word-per-minute. Whew! That's really fast. Only a room full of monkeys can type faster.

Get Laura Ipsum Today!


An Irish Import Who Loves a Challenge
Introducing Our Newest ZURBian

Shawna wrote this on February 24, 2014 in . It has 24 reactions

We don't have to look far for new opportunities here at ZURB. Sometimes they arrive at our doorstep, even from as far away as the Emerald Isle of Ireland.

It's with great pleasure that we introduce you to our newest ZURBian, an Irish import who loves a challenge. Everyone say hello to …

John Leenane, Business Development and Partner

John Leenane

John may have originally come from across the pond, but he's been in the Bay Area for about 14 years. He's worked with companies, big and small (read: startups). He recently founded two companies of his own, but once his path led him to ZURB, there was no turning back.

John's our newest Partner and Business Developer. And he's already gotten his hands dirty, opening up new opportunities for ZURB. He's focused on growing our business and finding new ways to bring ZURB to the next level. As part of our Connections Team, he'll continue to foster relationships, both new and old, sharing our mission of "Design for People" to anyone within earshot. And he can't wait to do so:

I'm really excited about helping all of us at ZURB, our community and all the companies we work with to reach their potential.

Not to worry, he's not all business. John knows how to have a bit of fun. He's a snowboarder, a windsurfer and a concert goer. These days, however, most of his spare time is spent with his wife and four boys — the latter which provides its own unique fitness regime.

Everyone please welcome John to the ZURB team!



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