Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, webinars and loves solving complex UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.
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).
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.
By now, you might actually know how it works. The good ol' Smashing Mysteries: the door that would never open and the rain that would never stop. Well, the Mystery continues! To celebrate the launch of Paul Boag's Digital Adaptation book, we’ve prepared a new riddle, and this time it's a bit different and a bit easier.
How does it work? Below you'll find three animated GIFs that contain a hidden message. Each GIF contains a few scattered letters (all uppercase) that you can use to build words. Once you put the words from all the GIFs together, you will be able to create a sentence. Please notice that no letters should be left unused. Once you've resolved the mystery, please tweet the full sentence using the hashtag #smashing.
When I started developing websites back in the day, I was lucky to have hundreds of valuable, practical articles that would help me become better at what I did. I could learn day and night, and whenever I discovered a new tool or technique, I would bookmark it on Delicious for future reference. I knew the value of each article and of each bookmark, and I kept revisiting and carefully tagging them for months and months — almost every day.
Years have passed. The landscape has changed. Blogs have emerged and new publications have appeared. Some magazines were discontinued yet remained fully available online (Pingmag and good ol' Digital-Web, for example). At that point, maintaining a backup of online articles obviously didn't even cross my mind. For a year or so, I even stopped bookmarking articles since I could always find them via Google, of course. I was naive and stupid.
Today is the day when it all started — the day when this little website launched back in 2006. Today, we celebrate our seventh anniversary, and you, dear readers, are the ones who have made it possible and kept us going.
A couple of months ago, I was on a night train on my way to one of those countless Web design conferences. Being offline with a ridiculous roaming rate is always a good excuse to get some work done, and the music streaming from my good ol’ headphones helped me to focus on the draft of the chapter I was reviewing for our upcoming book.