Posts About ZURB
Posts About ZURB
The worlds of video games and design share many common elements and have influenced each other for decades. We here at ZURB are on a quest to change the way people design, and what better way to get people interacting with our work than the medium of electronic games!
With our deep knowledge of design and cursory knowledge of videogame hardware, developing our own console was a no brainer. We're proud to announce the future of video gaming, ZURBA!
- A once cutting edge 8 bit graphics processor for eye popping visuals and zoetrope quality animations!
- An adrenaline pumping mono MIDI synthesizer audio engine capable of 4 note polyphony!
- A high latency, near ergonomic, single button wired joystick controller!
- A diverse lineup of launch titles including the puzzler 'Wobbly Woos,' the 'Yeti's Islet Jr.' platformer, the 'Legend of ZURBA' RPG adventure and the genre bending 'Car and G.U.N.' Each launch title features the beloved Notaballs characters from your favorite design platform, Notable!
Check out these lukewarm reviews!
The critics we spoke to did not want their names included in this article
Video games have taken one step forward and about three steps backward with ZURBA
ZURBA is the console I would have dreamed about if no other consoles had come out in the last twenty five years.
You control the car game with a gun controller?
ZURBA hits store shelves this summer (price TBD), but check out the link below to see the teaser commercial:
Contrary to popular belief, 'the lone genius' locking themselves away and coming back with the magical solution to all of our problems is a myth. Unfortunately, it's a myth that is especially persistent in the design community. We've been told that there are magical unicorns that understand all of the problems and know all of the answers. We 'ooh' and 'ahh' as they lift the veil and reveal their latest and greatest product. A product that seems near effortless for them to create, the result of things simply 'clicking.' We hate to break it to you, but that's not how it works. We've helped over 300 companies big and small design and develop sites, products and services, and it's never as easy as the keynote portrays. It's time people know how the sausage is really made.
The truth is that teams are intrinsic to designing and building amazing products. This includes everyone that supports the design of the product. But this presents a ton of challenges. As design leaders, we haven't necessarily had the training and mentors to be effective leaders. It's a very different thing to go from being an awesome designer to an awesome leader. While it's easy to make progress when you're working solo, it can be extremely difficult to work with a group of people in an effective way.
Guiding teams to be productive and generate consistent results requires that design leaders learn how to communicate in a way that drives action. With our focus on empathy, you would think this is an easy skill to master, but it isn't. Empathy will only get you part way. There are several other tactics we can employ to help us build trust, grow influence and keep our teams productive. Here are five small things you can start doing today to improve your communication as a design leader and guide your team to big wins:
1. Get to know your people
If you have the luxury of being in a smaller team you have the opportunity, scratch that, the obligation to get to know the people on your team. As you do this, you'll soon realize that everyone is in different places in their life, and that people can't separate home life and work life as well as they think they can. Stress from outside of work can manifest itself at inopportune times. While we as professionals should keep this to a minimum, it happens, we're human. Putting forth the effort to help a team member stay on track and work through their projects during a stressful time will win you loads of trust and goodwill.
Building trust is important for a number of reasons. Most people like to feel some sort of attachment to the people they work with, especially those they work under. This isn't to say you need to be best friends with everyone, but it helps to be a little candid. Talk about mistakes you've made in the past and what you've learned. Above all else, have a sense of humor. Laugh at yourself. If your team sees you as human, they'll be more willing to trust you and open up when they experience problems. Trust begins with you.
2. Do the work
I think we've all had the experience of that one boss that had no clue about how long things took or what went into what they were asking. How did it feel working for them? Did you respect them or even like them? Probably not. A boss with outrageous expectations and no understanding of what it will take to meet them doesn't extract the best work out of their team. On the contrary, they usually find their team will purposely underperform out of sheer resentment. Not good.
As a leader, you should have a clear understanding of everything you ask your team to do. Ideally, you should have hands on experience. There's no faster way to lose respect from your team than not understanding the work and having unreasonable expectations. Now, this is not to say you have to be an expert, but you should take an interest and learn as much as possible.
Anyone who comes into a managerial role and has no interest in learning about what goes into the work they demand usually ends up with a bitter team and zero respect. So get your hands dirty. Learn as much as you can about everyone's roles, ask lots of questions, and become as familiar as possible with the process it takes to get everything done. Doing this will help you speak from a place of understanding, make sure your expectations of people are reasonable and earn you the respect of your team.
3. Check in
As a leader, it's your job to make sure that your team is productive. The problem is that it's rarely ever as simple as telling someone to do something and coming back moments later to see it finished perfectly and on time. Projects can be complicated and things never go to plan. In addition to that, people encounter all kinds of roadblocks, both external and internal that can bring momentum to a screeching halt. The solution? Check-in regularly with your team.
Are you thinking of the boss character in Office Space? Don't. That's not the kind of checking in we're talking about. These interactions should be positive and built on a foundation of empathy and trust.
Ask what each person is working on, have them actually show the work to you, and ask them how they're feeling about it. It's not enough to just ask 'How things are going?' and leave it at that. You won't get any meaningful answers, and you may not even receive the truth. Remember, people don't always voice when they are stressed or overwhelmed. You'll have to be perceptive and pay attention to things like body language. There's a difference between the look of someone who's concentrating and someone who is drowning in stress. If you've built up enough trust with your team, they'll open up about what's on their mind and you'll have a chance to coach them through it. Do this right and they'll feel supported by their team and you'll earn more trust. Everybody wins.
4. Tell them the 'why' behind your requests
You want to know a great way to get people to do what you ask them to? Tell them why it's important. People want to know that what they're devoting their time and talent to is going to result in something positive. Explaining all of the details, and multiple times, will help keep everyone on board.
We've all been there, you ask 'Does anyone have any questions?' *Crickets*... So much silence. People will not always let you know if they don't understand or are confused. When it comes to this awkward moment, think of what questions people may be thinking and ask them yourself. When people are well informed and see how their contributions fit into the whole, they put forth their best work.
Did you know there is a difference between 'hearing' and 'listening'? Hearing is the act of perceiving sound. During the course of your day you 'hear' thousands of things. Planes flying over head, the buzz of an airconditioning unit, the squeak of office chairs, etc. Listening is different. Listening is paying attention to draw meaning from the sounds you are hearing. Listening requires effort.
It is absolutely critical that you, as a leader know how to listen. Believe it or not, not everyone has been taught how. The first step involves letting people talk without interrupting them, learn to hold your tongue and listen. Another helpful strategy is to take notes and ask questions. Lastly, don't worry about having all the answers right then. A good leader knows that sometimes people just need to get things off their chests. Ultimately, it's your responsibility to make sure that the work environment is a place where people feel they can share what's on their minds.
Strength In Numbers
No matter how talented we may think we are, teams, not lone geniuses, are at the heart of great product design. When groups of people are in sync and working towards the same goals, their potential for impact is nearly unlimited. Improving internal communication removes roadblocks, boosts morale and fosters camaraderie to strengthen your team. Implementing these five tactics will help you grow your influence no matter what your position within a company, and guide your team to big wins!
Last year we announced our new mission to change the way people design connected products and services and we were blown away by the response. All kinds of conversations were sparked and it's inspired designers the world over to step up and design for influence. A talented designer has answered the call and joins our team to help us reach new heights! Without further ado, meet...
Shannon Rhodes, Designer
Shannon hails from the birthplace of rock n' roll, Memphis, Tennessee. Even as a kid, Shannon was a problem solver, always building things, taking them apart and figuring out how they worked. While other little girls played with Barbies, Shannon was drawing bugs she collected from the yard and building Lego sets.
In college, she earned a BFA with emphasis in Graphic Design at Mississippi State University and eventually settled in the city of Jackson, Mississippi. It was there where she accidentally stumbled into web design and front-end development. What she thought was a print designer position actually turned out to be a web designer role, but that didn't phase her. Always eager to learn new things and take on new challenges, Shannon rolled up her sleeves and learned how to crank out all kinds of marketing websites.
After a few years of building her web chops, Shannon moved back to Memphis to focus on visual design for the web. She worked her way up to an Art Director role, responsible for maintaining visual consistency and quality.
Shannon came across ZURB and fell in love with our mission and values. We've set a pretty ambitious mission of changing the way people design connected products and services, and Shannon wanted to get involved. Realizing that ZURB was a place she could learn and grow at, she packed her bags and moved out to California to come join our team.
I came across ZURB and instantly got excited as I read their design principles. I love the idea of teaching the world that design is more than pretty pictures. I knew this was the place that I wanted to learn and grow at.
In addition to exploring the natural beauty and culture of the San Francisco Bay Area, Shannon is eager to dive into solving problems for our clients in our Studios business. We're looking forward to seeing all of the awesome ways Shannon will help us change the way people design!
The various teams at ZURB have been on a roll lately, coming off the brand new Foundation 6 release and some exciting new updates in the works for Notable. With all of this new growth, we needed a new Customer Advocate to be the voice of our customers and help us collect valuable insights. Without further ado meet ...
Ryan McCready, Customer Advocate
Ryan comes to the left coast all the way from the state of Maryland, the same place as our new Business Designer, Chris. But that's no coincidence, they're siblings! After we brought Chris onboard, she introduced us to Ryan who wowed us with his customer advocacy skills. There's some magic in those McCready genes, and we're happy to 2x our share.
Ryan spent his early years with family in Maryland, engaging in hobbies like archery, ultimate frisbee and gaming, but he always had a desire for adventure. When his best friend told him of his plan to move out to the island of Maui, Ryan started packing his bags. In Maui, Ryan worked in the real estate business where he sharpened his people skills and soaked in the local culture.
Even though family and the support of family is incredibly important to Ryan, the fact his sister made the cut wasn't all that drew him to ZURB. Ryan was looking for personal growth and decided ZURB was the perfect place for him to learn from others and share a few insights of his own.
I wanted to experience a company where I can truly grow with it, while both affecting it's growth and learning from it as well.
Ryan will make an impact as one of our Customer Advocates, the people who serve as the bridge between our customers and our dev teams, making sure we're delivering an amazing experience to the people we serve.
With his people skills and passion for people, we think he's the perfect man for the job!
Around this time of year, people take time to think about what they're thankful for, and one thing that we are most appreciative of is our amazing team. It's absolutely astounding to look back at everything our small but mighty team has accomplished so far this year, and we're even more excited about what we have planned for the near future. To help us reach our goals, we've brought on two new talented ZURBians that we're confident will accomplish some amazing things!
Kevin Ball: Rails Engineer
Our new Rails Engineer joins us from Socal, San Diego specifically although he also spent some time growing up here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Attending college in San Diego wasn't all sunshine, palm trees and craft beer though. Kevin studied physics and was especially interested in the elaborate models of astrophysics and quantum field theory. You know, the easy stuff.
After college, Kevin found himself back in the Bay Area and ended up at a tech company. It was there it all clicked for him, he could use that fascination with elaborate models to create software that did amazing things. An engineer was born! Kevin went on to start a few companies and is actively involved in the development community, organizing and attending events and finding like minded creators.
Kevin first connected with ZURB through a friend down in San Diego, and really dug our unique culture and the passion for learning and creating everyone on team exudes. A natural builder and creative thinker by nature, Kevin fits right in.
In addition to building awesome things, he enjoys public speaking, playing soccer, dancing (salsa, swing, hustle, ballroom), and reading a wide range of books. We're excited to bring Kevin on as our Rails Engineer, where he'll be working with the Notable team to make the design collaboration platform even more powerful!
Chris McCready: Business Developer
Chris comes to us all the way from the Chesapeake Bay in Southern Maryland, where she spent her childhood participating in Blue Crab-picking contests. Besides the mild crab obsession, Chris is also an artist, specializing in oil painting and graphic novel style art. A hardcore fan of the X-men comic series, Chris can tell you the origin story of just about anyone in the Marvel universe, from Ant-man to Xavier himself (Better known us laypeople as Professor X).
Career wise, Chris has always found herself in in the worlds of marketing, sales and business development which she recognized early that she had a real knack for. In addition to being able to build buzz and close deals, Chris has a passion for coaching others which fits right in with our values here at ZURB.
Chris stumbled across ZURB on the interwebz by accident, but fell in love with our values, goals, work and overall nerd-charm, and we fell in love with her easy-going nature, top notch biz dev skillz, and rad-tastic tattoos!
We've got some big goals for the next year and we move incredibly fast here at ZURB, but Chris is more than up for the challenge. We're excited to see how she'll help us up our game on the business front, make it rain, and help spread Progressive Design far and wide!
2016 is poised to be our biggest year ever, so we're thankful to have these two talented new ZURBians to help us reach our goals!
He's got a sweet motorcycle, a sweet mustache and some sweet coding skills. We're thrilled to see what this natural born builder is capable of. Without further ado meet...
Chris Oyler, Engineer
Chris grew up on a farm in northwest Missouri, but always had a desire to see the rest of the country and take on new adventures. He's lived in Kansas City, Albuquerque, Austin and now calls San Francisco his home.
From early on, Chris has been a creator and problem solver. Building things and learning how to use tools comes naturally to him. From model planes and rockets to furniture and motorcycles, Chris has spent his life learning quality craftsmanship. The only difference now is that his tools have changed and gotten a little less risky. Instead of hammers and nails, Chris uses code editors and computers, crafting high quality code as the newest member of ZURB's engineering team!
Now I get to build and create things everyday, minus the risk of smashing a thumb or gluing my fingers to something.
A graduate of a bootcamp style coding program, Chris toured our offices and asked a question none of the other visitors thought of, 'Are you hiring?'
I was the guy in the back of the room that asked, rather loudly, if they were hiring anyone. Turns out that anyone was me.
We loved Chris' moxie, charm and sweet coding skillz!
In his free time, Chris loves tinkering with motorcycles, baseball, football and tabletop games. We're thrilled to have him on the team and are excited to see what great things he'll build for ZURB!
It's GO time! We've just kicked off ZURB Wired 2015 with Downtown Streets Team! You can keep up with our progress in real-time as we publish our work through blog posts, photos and videos on our ZURB Wired page over the next 24 hours. You can get involved too! Keep an eye on the blog because we'll be posting Notable sets asking for your feedback on our work as we go.
You can help keep us pumped by cheering us on! Tweet us using our @ZURB handle and use the #ZURBWired hashtag and we'll be sure to share it with the teams here.
Lastly, every few hours we're going to hop on Periscope for some live video streaming. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed to be alerted when that happens!
So be a part of the action and follow along over the next 24 hours as we race to help Downtown Streets Team create an amazing marketing campaign!
After meeting with several amazing nonprofits, we've selected Downtown Streets Team for ZURB Wired 2015! We want to thank all of the other organizations who put together some amazing presentations for our team and look forward to keeping in contact for Wired 2016!
Downtown Streets Team is celebrating 10 years of helping the homeless transform their lives through their unique work and community beautification programs, in addition to assistance with housing, medical care and education. Our team was incredibly impressed by their personal success stories and the impact they're making in our community. Their team is committed, passionate and just crazy enough to take on this 24-hour sprint with us!
The difference that Downtown Streets Team has been making in Silicon Valley is absolutely astounding, and the facts prove it. Since operating in the city of Palo Alto, there has been 50% reduction in crime, 75% reduction in panhandling, and a 54% reduction in homelessness. But they aren't resting on their laurels, they're committed to even bigger and better things in 2015 and that's where we come in!
We're going to help them with a brand new marketing campaign that includes a spiffy new responsive website, trifold brochure, postcard sized pamphlets for handing out on the streets, posters and some t-shirt designs. All of this will be done in 24-hours straight, mobilizing our entire team and resources to get it done. Our goal with Wired is to educate nonprofits to do more with less resources. We'll work closely with Downtown Streets Team so that they can continue building great things for years to come long after Wired is done.
Wired gets underway August 27th at 8 AM and goes until August 28th at 8 AM. You'll be able to follow along with our progress and cheer us on through our blog posts on the Wired page, Twitter (@ZURB and remember to use the hashtag #ZURBWired) and even live streaming on Periscope! Stay tuned!
Design is hot. Companies have realized that good design is good for business, that technology alone isn't enough to get customers excited, and that today's consumers have come to expect a smart and delightful experience in every product they touch. Designers are a hot commodity these days. Companies are going all-in, scooping up talent so their competitors won't. The stakes have never been higher.
However, it's clear that not many companies seem to know how to play their hand and they just haven't figured out what do with their design teams. Product managers are still at the helm, doing most of the decision-making, and passing their credo down to the design team to execute on. Too often, designers get put in a waterfall production line, stuck working on a sliver of the customer experience they so want to impact.
The Dull Reality
Many of us who pursued the career of design did so looking for an outlet for our creative ambitions. It's extremely exciting to design products, and we want a piece of the action (and glory for the product's success). The bigger the piece the better.
One might argue that when the pieces do get put together, the whole is stronger than the sum of its parts. The production line is very efficient, no doubt. Everyone is focused on their part — just UX, just visuals, just marketing, just mobile. Except as work gets passed from one designer or team to another, decisions get lost in translation. UXers can't quite vouch for the strategy, visual designers can't quite articulate the workflows.
It's a game of design telephone. A designer who's invested in a single part of the process can't possibly have full context for the solution they're designing. Every team layers in their own interpretation, and designers get stuck working on artifacts instead of having an opportunity to influence the relationship between the business and its customer.
Something Has to Change
To design cohesive customer experiences, designers must touch every part of the design process. Simple as that. But that's just not always possible, you might say. Many businesses are just not set up for that. At certain size, they have to rely on an org chart to keep accountability in check, and changing organizations is hard. We face this often in our Studios business, when a team is trying to move products and meet roadblocks the large org bought into their vision. So where to start?
You can start with transparency — the smallest step toward awareness. When full-on collaboration isn't possible, teams just have to share what they're working on. Say, when there's a place to see what everyone is doing (shameless Notable plug) — from strategists to marketers to designers — the onus is then on the team to be aware of where the product's been and where it's going.
Transparency opens the door to communication. For example, the marketing team shares their strategy, the onboarding team runs with the marketing concept, the product team incorporates the messaging from both in the app. Yes, it's still technically a waterfall. But it's a waterfall that talks to each other. Hopefully a lot! Which in turn creates trust and opens the opportunity for honest feedback. So teams can stop working on isolated features and together design a complex, cohesive, emotive experiences.
Change Is a Choice
It's easy to sit back and complain about lack of design leadership. It's not so easy to do something about it. Every member of the team is on the hook for having the guts to change the company culture. Driven people don't just sit around and wait for someone to rescue them. They fight or flee.
Change from the top can be met with resistance and resentment, unless operation pieces are in place to support this change, i.e. a process for holding the middle management layer accountable for follow-through. Small shifts at the team level can prove more sticky with less effort — that's how Slack got into big orgs, actually — when teams start being proactive and taking charge. Hiding behind the retina display isn't going to create the influence designers desire.
(Side anecdote: In advertising, why more copywriters become creative directors? Because when it comes to putting final touches on the presentation, the art director is pushing pixels while the copywriter talks up the ECD.)
Designers need to keep fighting for their seat at the table. Ask more questions. Learn the product marketing strategy. Talk to people on other teams, grab coffee with leads. Pick up the phone and talk to a group of customers, collect feedback and have a candid conversation with decision-makers.
And in reality, it won't always work. So what then? Ambitious designers will move on and find a place that will let them create impact. Maybe if more designers stopped putting up with being parked in front of their monitors and upped the ante, more companies would start paying attention to what design can offer to their business.
The Shift Will Happen
We've watched the appreciation for design grow over the last decade, and it's only the beginning. Businesses know they need good design to compete for customer dollars. And they're willing for fork up a lot of cash to bring great talent to their team. They just haven't quite figured out how to use it. Yet.
It will happen. It must. Because there's no amount of culture or resume clout that can tie down a passionate designer in a place where they can't practice and expand their skill. Instead of just accepting what they've been dealt, they'll find ways to create impact and hit it big or go looking for a place where they can. You can bet on it.
The origin of the English word 'team' comes from a word that referred to a group of draft animals all working together to pull something forward. Back in ye olden days, the best 'teams' were animals that were the same species, the same size and moving in the same direction. But that doesn't really work when it comes to humans. Teams are made up of different people with different skills, weaknesses, goals, values, etc. How do all these individuals work together to do something more complicated than pull a plough, something like say, designing and building a successful product?
Companies, especially in the competitive world of tech, have been trying to figure out the answer to that question for a while now. It seems like the best solution they've come up with is issuing matching hoodies with company logos on them. While these 'Zuck-xedos' are cool and all, faithfully wearing matching sweatshirts doesn't mean you're a team.
Real teamwork requires investment and consistent effort from every individual involved. Contrary to popular belief, there is an 'i' in team, you and everyone else. Each team member should ask themselves 'What can I contribute to the team?' and expect the same from others.
Here at ZURB we have a set of values that we look for and cultivate in our team members. They keep us focused on our common goals, but also inspire us to think about what we can contribute as individuals for the greater good. This results in a strong team that can do mighty things. We just went through the process of refining our values. Here are a few of the simple ideas that inspired them and can help you become a valuable member of any team you join:
1. Pull Your Weight
Every member in the team needs to be contributing value. This doesn't mean we always need to do everything perfectly or have all the answers, nobody can rightly expect that. But everyone on the team should be seeing us put forth effort. This is closely related to the ZURBian value 'Make It Happen.' Sometimes in order to make things happen we need to go above and beyond. A few late nights might be necessary to wrap up a project and earn that win!
But what if we're trying but struggling? Take initiative and reach out to the team, don't just ignore or avoid the problem. Asking a lot of questions and reaching out for help early and often shows others that we're serious about solving the issue and are willing to put in the work to learn new things.
2. Stick Together
It's easy to stay close to each other when a product is doing well or a project wraps up to rave reviews. It's when things don't go right, when the team fails, that everyone has an opportunity to show they are real team members, a.k.a. ride or dies. Losing, whether as a team or as an individual, is never easy, but it's always an opportunity to learn. When faced with a fail, we try to step up and point out the silver lining in the loss. Doing this can help the team pull a win from the experience. When the team does achieve a win, it's embraced as a team. ZURBians use the mighty 'we' when celebrating our victories and look for ways to highlight the efforts of everyone involved. This is closely related to our value of 'Find Wins Together.' Focusing only on raising your own profile usually backfires and breaks up team solidarity.
3. Lend A Hand
Every ZURBian is encouraged to 'Be a Coach,' not just the partners or leads. If someone has the skills or know-how that can benefit others, we share it and elevate the team without hesitation. While everyone would probably like to think they are 100% awesome by our own design, the truth is we've all had mentors throughout our careers that helped us along the way. Remember that and pay it forward.
When others ask for help, it can be tempting to reply back with "Sorry, I've got stuff to do." But guess what? We all have stuff to do, but we try to make time to be there for your teammates. We also try not to hesitate to reach out if we're having trouble. It can be difficult to admit when you're struggling, but get over yourself. No one is perfect and no one should expect you to be, just tell your team how you're struggling. And when help is offered, let go of the ego and allow people help you do things better.
4. Improve Yourself, Improve the Team
Sometimes new learning doesn't happen during the 9 to 5. We may need to put forth extra effort to build up some skills or learn some new things. We also need to continually improve our communication because it's the glue that holds teams together. Learn to work with people, not just alongside them. Real teamwork isn't just about getting work done it's working to accomplish a goal together. You'll need to communicate. A lot.
Look for ways to add more value, and help your teammates do the same. This is related to our value 'Build on Opportunity.' Be advised, the side effects of teamwork may result in extreme frustration, anger, euphoric happiness, hi-fiving, cheering, and possible group chants. If you experience one or more of these symptoms do not discontinue, you're doing it right.
Being a real team requires hard work from everyone involved. You're only as strong as your weakest link. So invest in yourself and each other, and keep asking about the 'i' in your team. What can I do to help others? What can I do to improve my skills? What can I do to help my teammates? Get these things right and those matching hoodies will actually start to mean something.
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