Today Smashing Magazine turns eight years old. Eight years is a long time on the web, yet for us it really doesn't feel like a long journey at all. Things have changed, evolved and moved on, and we gratefully take on new challenges one at a time. To mark this special little day, we’d love to share a few things that we’ve learned over the last year about the performance challenges of this very website and about the work we’ve done recently. If you want to craft a fast responsive website, you might find a few interesting nuggets worth considering. – Ed.
Improvement is a matter of steady, ongoing iteration. When we redesigned Smashing Magazine back in 2012, our main goal was to establish trustworthy branding that would reflect the ambitious editorial direction of the magazine. We did that primarily by focusing on crafting a delightful reading experience. Over the years, our focus hasn't changed a bit; however, that very asset that helped to establish our branding turned into a major performance bottleneck.
You've seen this happen a thousand times. An organization struggles with a high level of internal enthusiasm and creative chaos that team leaders don't know how to handle any more. To bring order into projects, a new product manager is appointed, under huge expectation, and with unclear responsibilities and big goals defined within a very short timeframe. That's when things usually go south, resulting in failed projects, crushed teams and disappointed clients.
That's why we've teamed up with our author and friend Rian van der Merwe, a senior product manager with a sociology and UX background, to create a new practical book to help product managers in the digital space manage projects effectively — the right way, with the right strategy, in the right time, with the right team. Making It Right is a book about just that: what product management is, what it isn't, why it's important, and how to approach it strategically and meaningfully to get things done well. Available today.
Experiments and side projects are wonderful ways to challenge yourself and explore areas that you wouldn't usually consider exploring. That's what Smashing Mystery Riddles are for us: little experiments that challenge us to come up with something new, original and a bit crazy—every single time. The ideas are usually a synthesis of the things we discover, stumble upon or try out ourselves—and oh my, they take quite some time to get right.
The most recent riddle took quite a lot of time spent fiddling and getting right (and Guillaume, the designer, wasn't that happy about all the changes that our tests required). The basic idea was simple: as usual, you have a series of animated GIFs containing clues. One animated GIF leads to another, and every animated GIF contains a key (or keys) that have to be discovered. Once you uncover all the keys, you construct a solution and send out a tweet containing that solution. Doesn't sound too difficult, does it?
Ah, these mysteryriddlesnever stop, do they? To celebrate the launch of the SmashingConf Whistler, our very first conference in Canada, we’ve prepared a yet another riddle, and of course this time it's not going to be any easier!
Tip: Watch out for a hint in one of the frames in each of the GIFs. Large view.
So, how does it work this time? Well, below you'll find the first of a few hidden animated GIFs that contain a secret Twitter hashtag. Your job is to deconstruct that hashtag as fast as possible. To do that, you have to pay attention to the file name and count objects within the GIF (for example, "3 chairs") and search for them on Twitter (i.e. #3chairs).
What happens when you combine a practical front-end conference with a spectacular resort experience? Guess what: that's exactly what we are going to find out with our very first SmashingConf in Canada— taking place on December 9–12th 2014 in a ski resort paradise Whistler, right next to Vancouver! Ah, right — and tickets are now on sale.
At Smashing Conferences, we take good care of the value that the event delivers to attendees. No speaker is selected randomly, no networking activity is an afterthought, and every single talk is thoroughly curated and reviewed. SmashingConf Whistler isn't going to be an exception: with 2 days of heavily practical front-end talks and 7 front-end + RWD workshops, you'll leave the conference with a treasure of useful tips and tricks applicable to your work right away.
Some things just don't change: SmashingConf Freiburg is taking place again this year, on September 15th-16th 2014, in our lovely hometown Freiburg, Germany. Two days, one track, 18 brilliant speakers and 300 fantastic attendees, sharing practical insights into their craft. And the best bit: lots of networking with good ol’ German beers in beer gardens, at the very foot of the legendary Black Forest. Tickets are now on sale.
The main focus of Smashing Conferences has always been hands-on insights and actionable takeaways — things that have actually worked in practice, and the design/development process behind them, including mistakes, failures, critical decisions and eventually successes.
We have all been there. With Responsive Web Design becoming a convenient strategy for device-agnostic design, we keep running into annoying technical issues that all those quirky (and not so quirky) mobile browsers are raising so very often. However, fixing these issues can be quite easy — once you understand exactly why they come up. The book will be useful for mobile strategists, developers, designers, and everybody willing to better understand the intricacies of mobile — both technical and market-related.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You find yourself in a coffee shop abroad, sipping cappuccino and chomping a muffin as you realize that your laptop’s battery charge is just about to crush your creative session to dust. Well, perhaps you’ve got your power adapter with you but, of course, it isn’t the right one for foreign power sockets.
So you end up looking around and chatting up with strangers asking for help. Some are more responsive than others, and before you know it, you don’t just have a full battery, but you've made a couple of new, surprisingly interesting acquaintances.