As we are looking at the past year and the next year, it’s just about the right time to consider how we actually work. Do you find yourself struggling with some annoying settings on your machine — be it the way we create or store screenshots, buggy apps that show up on startup, or just too many notifications coming your way? Perhaps we could take a moment and think about those little things to streamline the workflow down the line.
For me, the end of December is always a great time for a digital clean-up. Deleting old screenshots and reviewing email subscriptions, cleaning up space, turning off notifications, and removing unused apps — just making sure that I can work a little bit more comfortably when returning back from holidays.
That’s also the time when I challenge the way I work, and how things are organized. That’s why, in today’s newsletter, we take a fresh perspective on seemingly boring things: meetings, estimates, code reviews, expenses and general trends in 2022. We hope you’ll find some useful in there.
As this is the last newsletter of 2021, we sincerely wish you all the wondrous and smashing of things for 2022, with a lot of energy, optimism, and bright sunny days that will make you smile and enjoy every moment of every day we live. Stay healthy, stay passionate, and stay smashing, of course!
Happy 2022, everyone!
— Vitaly (@smashingmag)
1. Making Better Estimates (Or Not)
As humans, we aren’t very good at predicting the future, so no wonder that estimates often feel like guesswork. This goes for the time needed to build features and the time needed to carefully orchestrate good UX. But when a client approaches us, they will often ask for a ballpark figure. How do we get around that question without spending too much time estimating, or spending too much effort overtime?
If we can avoid ballpark figures, it’s a good idea to do so. Instead, we break the large project into smaller sub-projects, estimating each at a time. The insights we gain from every sub-project will then inform the estimate of the upcoming projects.
If we do need to provide time estimates, we should break down tasks to two-hour stories and never assume more than 6.5 hours of productive project work a day. Alternatively, we might be better off abstracting away from time estimation toward story points and planning poker, or use no estimates at all, and come up with effort projections progressively. All valuable options to explore to get more accurate numbers ahead of time. (vf)
2. Document-Based Meetings
In many companies, meetings don’t enjoy a good reputation. Very often they are running late, the discussed agenda round-mails haven’t been read in time, and there really are just too many of them. So how do we organize meetings in a way that they are productive while making sure that everyone is aligned?
While a common outcome of a meeting is a document with a summary, at Amazon, meetings don’t happen without a document prepared ahead of time. In The Document Culture at Amazon, Justin Garrison highlights the process from start to finish. The meeting starts with a silent reading of a well-prepared meeting document, with everyone marking notes and adding questions privately.
Reading the document is a part of the scheduled meeting time: nobody is expected to find their own time to read ahead of time, and the document is fresh in everyone’s mind. The document could be 1-pager or 6-pager or PRFAQs for products that don’t exist yet.
To eliminate distractions, all notes at Amazon are added on paper on printouts, and then discussed, but it could be digital with notifications and applications turned off. An interesting way to challenge the way we usually run those lengthy meetings, and make sure everyone is on the same page (well, kind of!). (vf)
3. Are You Ready For A Digital Clean-Up?
We all want a smooth start to the new year, don’t we? Well, with just a couple of days left until New Year’s Eve, it’s the perfect time to clean up, sort out and back up your digital footprint. So many little details tend to get forgotten or overlooked every single time, only to get fixed hastily later.
We’ve got your back with Vitaly’s Ultimate Digital Clean-Up Checklist which we’ve been updating since 2016. From reviewing your notification and privacy settings to revisiting monthly digital expenses (Gdoc template) and improving front-end performance (detailed checklist available in PDF, Apple Pages and MS Word formats), there is enough to help you get a good clean start. Happy clean-up, everyone! (il)
4. Upcoming Front-End & UX Workshops
You might have heard it: we run online workshops around front-end and design, be it accessibility, performance, navigation, or landing pages. In fact, we have a couple of workshops coming up soon, and we thought that, you know, you might want to join in as well.
Front-end and design can sometimes feel like you’re riding some pretty wild waves! We’ve got your back with personal and inclusive events.
As always, here’s an overview of our upcoming workshops and courses:
- Smart Interface Design Patterns (video course) UX
with Vitaly Friedman. January 2022
- Accessible Front-End Patterns Masterclass Dev
with Carie Fisher. Jan 20 – Feb 3
- New Adventures In Front-End, 2022 Edition Dev
with Vitaly Friedman. Feb 3–17
- Front-End Testing Masterclass Dev
with Gleb Bahmutov. Feb 8–16
- Jump to all online workshops →
5. Trends In 2022
The end of every year is a wonderful opportunity to slow down and revisit where we currently stand, and where we’d love to be a year from now. That’s a wonderful time when plenty of advent calendars appear, and also plenty of articles exploring trends for the upcoming year.
So what is expecting us in 2022? There are plenty on thoughts on everything from visual design and design tools to the ways we work, album colors, book covers, colors, and photography. However, if you are looking for a larger overview of the 2022 trend reports across all kinds of industries, you can find a good number of useful nuggets in the Accenture Retail Report, Deloitte Global Marketing Trends, and last but certainly not least, the Garden 2022 Trends Report. (vf)
6. Better Code Reviews
It’s always a good idea to have another set of eyes reviewing the work that you have done. Be it an estimate, mock-up or code, we can always learn something insightful by having somebody take a closer look at our work from another perspective. Yet when the work is being discussed, one word too many might easily sound not quite how it was intended to come across. How do we avoid that?
In Better Code Reviews Gitlab style, David O’Regan highlights a few common strategies for better code reviews, such as conventional comments, patch files, follow-ups and tactical code reviews. Gergely Orosz highlights general guidelines about approving and requesting changes, nitpicks and cross-office, cross-time zone reviews. Google’s code review practices provide some details about the entire code review process, good CL description, dealing with timing and handling pushback.
And if you need more, Addy Osmani has initiated a Twitter thread all about code reviews, with plenty of opinions and shared experiences all in one place. (vf)
7. Architecting Front-End In 2022
It wasn’t long ago that we discovered the flexibility of single-page applications, and with that came along performance downsides which made us reconsider full client-side rendering applications and explore front-end patterns for building flexible, robust and fast applications that make best use of both SSR and CSR. So where do we stand today?
All patterns are grouped by their purpose, from design patterns to rendering patterns and performance patterns such as import on interaction and list virtualization. A handy free resource worth keeping nearby when architecting front-end in 2022! (vf)
That’s All, Folks!
Thank you so much for reading and for your support in helping us keep the web dev and design community strong with our newsletter. See you next time!
This newsletter issue was written and edited by Vitaly Friedman (vf) and Iris Lješnjanin (il).
- Web Accessibility
- Interface Design
- UX Writing
- Design Systems
- UX Workflow
- Obscure Treasures Of The Web
- Web Performance
- Free Fonts and Illustrations
- The Incredible Web
Looking for older issues? Drop us an email and we’ll happily share them with you. Would be quite a hassle searching and clicking through them here anyway.