Like most web developers, I spend my days giving instructions to computers. These instructions generally involve some input (a request for a web page), some logic (get the right content from a database) and some output (send the content to the requesting browser). This process of telling a computer how to perform a task, such as generating a web page, is what we commonly call “programming,” but it’s only a subset of programming: imperative programming.
There’s another type of programming, declarative programming, that most web developers also use every day but don’t often recognize as programming. With declarative programming, we tell a computer what, not how. We describe the result we want, and the details of how to accomplish it are left to the language interpreter. This subtle shift in approach to programming has broad effects on how we build software, especially how we build the future web.
Selling your services as a freelancer or a small shop is tough enough as it is. Selling to a small-town business that might not even see the need for a website adds an extra level of difficulty in turning a profit.
I’ve provided web design services to small-town businesses for the past few years, having had many happy outcomes, but also a lot of negative experiences from which I’ve learned hard lessons. One of the most important things I’ve learned is how to sell the value of the web. Many of my clients needed to be convinced that a website would actually be good for their business. A lot of them were almost naive about the web and about the impact and reach that a professional website and online strategy would have for their small business, even one whose target market lies within a 15-kilometer radius.
Look at your calendar. If you’re anything like me, all you see are meetings, places to go, things to do, people to meet and not a lot of white space. Few people love their calendar. So, we set out to change that, and we learned a lot in the process.
Our app is an iPhone app that flips your calendar upside down and lets you focus on the free time in your day, instead of all the busy time. The app itself has been around since 2011, but the story of how it came to be and what our team ultimately learned is one that I have been wanting to tell for quite some time. It’s the story of how limitations led to my biggest success in the App Store — and my biggest failure.
No person is immune from the influence of the people and groups they encounter. As much as we would like to think that every thought we have is original, that every opinion we express is informed by facts alone, the truth is that we use others around us as a reference point for much of our attitudes and behavior. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s human nature.
Knowing how groups influence people can help you to move from being a common, everyday, work-your-fingers-to-the-bone designer to a strategic influencer of your target audience with relative ease. In fact, whether researchers, designers or managers, everyone involved in user experience (UX) design would benefit from deeper knowledge of how to incorporate social influence in their work.
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.
You resize the browser and a smile creeps over your face. You’re happy: You think you are now mobile-friendly, that you have achieved your goals for the website. Let me be a bit forward before getting into the discussion: You are losing users and probably money if responsive web design is your entire goal and your only solution for mobile. The good news is that you can do it right.
In this article, we’ll cover the relationship between the mobile web and responsive design, starting with how to apply responsive design intelligently, why performance is so important in mobile, why responsive design should not be your website’s goal, and ending with the performance issues of the technique to help us understand the problem.
If you have to design an interface it's almost obvious to think to begin the process by drawing. But is this the best way? I once casually started by writing an imagined human-computer conversation, and only afterwards I continued by drawing. This changed my way of thinking and I never went back to drawing first. This article will explain the reasons behind my decision.
I have always been a huge admirer of the guys at Basecamp. Some time ago, I was reading a tweet by Jason Zimdars, one of its designers: “UI design starts with words.” He wasn’t joking. The comment got a lot of retweets, a lot of favorites. Everyone understood what he meant — except me.
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?
Fireworks is an excellent UI design tool; however, Adobe decided to feature-freeze it back in 2013 and (at the same time) did not offer any replacement tool to its users. Nevertheless, since Fireworks runs fine today on the latest Mac OS X and Windows OS, and since it still offers a solid UI-design feature set, many designers continue to use it and rely on it daily.
For those of you who are searching for a similar tool, Sketch 3.0 seems to be a pretty good alternative to Fireworks, but it's still not quite there yet; it's Mac-only, and while its vector tools are very good and it now has artboards, pages, symbols and styles, it lacks a few of the basic features available in Fireworks. (I'll talk more about possible alternatives to Fireworks in Part 2 of this series.)
Front-end development is no longer about individual frameworks. Tools are available — we merely have to choose. To make the right choices for your project, you need to start with a general approach, or methodology. But most methodologies have been created by big companies? Are they still useful for small companies, or do we need to reinvent them at a small scale?
You probably already know of BEM, one of those methodologies developed by a big company — namely, Yandex. BEM posits that three basic entities (blocks, elements and modifiers) are enough to define how to author HTML and CSS, structure code and components, describe interfaces and scale a project up to an industry-leading service.