We all know it well. Projects start off with the best of intentions. Then, somewhere along the way, miscommunication and confusion creep in and things start to veer down a slippery slope.
Posts in Process
At Aten, I tend to work on already live websites. Sometimes this means small bug fixes. Sometimes it encompasses information architecture, design work, a weeklong development sprint, and working on the front end. In most cases my work is on a site I didn't build originally and often on a site Aten didn't build.
I started putting some notes together on some of the gotchas I run across when working on new-to-me sites. This will become a series of blog posts, but one always has to start at the beginning: getting the site working on your local environment.
Recently my girlfriend and I went to buy a car. After we made our decision, the negotiations began. The salesman showed us to a table, gave us both a bottle of water, and went into a windowless room to discuss terms with the dealership. He came back and gave us the dealership’s offer. After hearing our counter he went once more into the breach and back he came again with another offer only to listen to another counter from us. Back and forth he went for what must have seemed like forever for him until we came to an agreement all parties were happy with (well, happy enough).
As a creative organization, we are always looking for ways to improve our processes while at the same time give our customer the best value for their dollar. For a while, we strayed away from using wireframes during the information architecture and design stages. Too often, wireframes influence the design direction of a site, and we didn’t want that to be the case here at Aten. We have great designers that are up for the challenge of giving the site well-balanced visual appeal.
At Aten we have both a collaborative process and flexible schedules, which means we meet a lot to discuss the work we're doing, and often someone in a meeting is out of the office, maybe working from home for the day or at a conference for the week or, as I am currently, in Korea for a month. Google+ Hangouts are invaluable in these situations and have become a key tool in how we communicate internally. We use Hangouts enough that it's important we keep the process as efficient as possible.
A few weeks ago, we helped a launch a new website for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, an important partnership of key economic and climate research organizations. The incredibly fast project was built with OpenAID, a turnkey website platform designed to help NGOs create cost-effective program-focused websites quickly. Read about the project and how OpenAID helped GCEC reach communications and timeline goals.
Any design process involves a lot of creativity, a big chunk of research, and a tiny bit of guessing. Wait, what? Guessing? Guessing may not be the right word for it. Perhaps, "exploration?" Whatever you call it, there's a part of the process that involves uncertainty. Eliminating that uncertainty can make the design process more efficient and more successful.
Happy New Year! We're just over three weeks in, and last year already feels so... well... last year. Before we get too far into 2013, I wanted to take a moment and run through some of the highlights from 2012.
To our clients, to my colleagues, and to everyone else who helped make 2012 everything that it was: Thank You! Here's to a successful, rewarding 2013.
Over the past few years, web developers have increasingly focused on the front end, moving more and more critical application logic from the server to the browser. I've been pretty skeptical of this shift, for a variety of reasons. Browsers still vary widely in capability, so you can only really use the lowest common denominator of your target audience. If your target audience is young, wealthy Americans, you can safely assume they have very capable browsers. And that's great for the many startups trying to reach that market.
Once again we have the privilege of sponsoring an amazing Drupal event. In just two weeks several members of the Aten Design Group team will be joining the Drupal crowd in Berkeley, California, for BADCamp 2012 sessions and summits! We are looking forward to reconnecting with Drupal friends and colleagues, sharing some of what we’ve been working on, and hearing what others have been up to as well. And... Aten is hiring!