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Nailing Your Own Projects

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Its not easy to make the right decisions when you’re working on your own projects. You’ll often need to produce engaging content, stunning design and rewarding experiences without all the usual …

Its not easy to make the right decisions when you’re working on your own projects. You’ll often need to produce engaging content, stunning design and rewarding experiences without all the usual in-depth client research and process. This calls for smart thinking and bold leaps of faith. In this design and content-focused talk, Simon will share his own experiences - both successes and failures - with a specific focus on the agency/portfolio website and it’s variants.

This was presented on 15th August at the http://2009.geekinthepark.co.uk/ event.

Published in: Design, Business, Education

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  • What do we have? Lets see.
    "Colly’s poems"
    "Slagging off Swinfield"
    "Free shit"
    "Flickr"
    etc.
  • We then begin to group the hexagons, identifying similarities, problems, weighting the popular and unpopular and so on.
  • One of the most common mistakes made on a project is to seize on a feature and call it a requirement without first understanding the problem and the expectations around a possible solution.

    Understanding these issues, and their impact on design solutions helps us better develop a successful product. We can prioritise requirements and only work on the highest priorities (based on key Goals) first.

    We can also look to identify what is needed to begin with - what sections and features are key to the initial release, and what features might be held back or added through further releases. It may well be that everything goes in with the initial release, but this needs to be clearly defined in the roadmap. In essence, we're talking about releasing features and tools simply, carefully and efficiently.

    We can then inspect and adapt the roadmap throughout a project's lifecycle.

    The roadmap is again something that might only be written when there is a true understanding of the intended audience and the weight of existing client collateral. It may be re-written, amended, scrapped, iterated after launch, before launch, anytime. The key is that it acts as a spec document to outline what features or tools might be implemented, and with which release of the product. But its broader than just a document - its a bit of a philosophy.

    It can be done on the fly, but a good features roadmap is like a good business plan.
    If a client is involved, this is essential to building a long-term relationship, and managing their expectations. When you are building a complex system, it pays to have a plan.
  • I can then select any gallery to view it’s contents via the web interface, or Finder on any machine. All my scraps in one place.

    I’ve created a new photos folder called “scrapbooking”. As I trawl the web finding interesting ideas or images I can easily drag them directly to that folder’s alias. Or, I can screengrab an interesting idea and throw that in there too.

    This takes seconds, and encourages me to keep scrapbooking. The beauty is that my scrapbook will be synced to all the computers I use, so the stuff I collect at home is also in my finder at work.

    It works collaboratively too, as I can share any photo folder, and provide the public link with each gallery I view. So, all my colleagues can, if I desire it, have access to my scrapbook and download any images I have collected.

    Briefly, lets not forget how useful our brains are at storing ideas and inspiration. I, like many, have often cited the importance of seeking inspiration anywhere and everywhere we go. It sounds trite, but music, film, architecture, fashion, graphic design, newsagents - they can all have a contributory influence in how we create for the web.

    If anything, perhaps the worst form of inspiration is other websites and interfaces! The real world and culture often have so much more to tell us about ourselves.

    Then, bring it all together in your collective minds, and also into the...
  • Now, we’re making time for creativity in our process, but how do we inspire it? Sometimes it just flows, but often we might want to surround ourselves with ideas relevant to a project, or soak up inspiration in more subtle, ongoing ways.

    Two years ago, Jon Hicks talked about being a "creative sponge" at @Media. Much of what he discussed related to classic scrapbooking, and is still relevant, and you can find his presentation in his blog archive.

    Moodboard rant?

    "desperate"
    "insulting to professionals"
    "absolutely no point of view whatsoever"
  • This is a brilliant tool for grabbing images, screengrabs etc on the fly, within the nifty desktop app, or the online counterpart. The in-built browser assists with taking full-screen site grabs where a human interaction triggers a layer of behaviour - perhaps a JavaScript-based expand/collapse or other choice.
  • On the face of it, the Mac app Dropbox is simple. All users will know that it allows you to manage files across several computers. Dropbox creates a folder on each machine that you simply drag or copy/paste files and folder into, and then syncs these to their storage servers.

    I’m finding the sharing of Dropbox folders particularly useful. For example, I have a folder called “Colly and Greg”. Our Greg is also a Dropbox user, so I created a folder and then invited him to use it. He and I can now share images, ideas and inspirations by dragging them to that folder. Its instant and encourages collaboration.

    When you install Dropbox, it automatically creates a folder called “Photos”. Now, any folder you drag into there will become a gallery, and its contents will be browsable as usual via finder and Quicklook etc.

    The cool thing here is that Dropbox will also create a set of galleries via it’s web interface too. So, I’ve archived loads of stuff old and new and have a smart menu of galleries at my disposal.
  • I can then select any gallery to view it’s contents via the web interface, or Finder on any machine. All my scraps in one place.

    I’ve created a new photos folder called “scrapbooking”. As I trawl the web finding interesting ideas or images I can easily drag them directly to that folder’s alias. Or, I can screengrab an interesting idea and throw that in there too.

    This takes seconds, and encourages me to keep scrapbooking. The beauty is that my scrapbook will be synced to all the computers I use, so the stuff I collect at home is also in my finder at work.

    It works collaboratively too, as I can share any photo folder, and provide the public link with each gallery I view. So, all my colleagues can, if I desire it, have access to my scrapbook and download any images I have collected.

    Briefly, lets not forget how useful our brains are at storing ideas and inspiration. I, like many, have often cited the importance of seeking inspiration anywhere and everywhere we go. It sounds trite, but music, film, architecture, fashion, graphic design, newsagents - they can all have a contributory influence in how we create for the web.

    If anything, perhaps the worst form of inspiration is other websites and interfaces! The real world and culture often have so much more to tell us about ourselves.

    Then, bring it all together in your collective minds, and also into the...
  • You can’t do it all online or store everything in your noggin. Maybe use Flickr pools, iPhoto, Dropbox etc or some other kind of online scrapbooking, but ultimately a physical project space is a brilliant tool.

    This is beyond the mere moodboard. This is a designated space in the office where we collate sketches, cut-outs, ideas, early wireframes, iterations, magazines and pretty much anything. It acts as one big physical scrapbook and a catalyst for discussion - a place to meet colleagues and drive the ideas forward. If you get stuck, or need inspiration, look up and there is all the progress or ideas so far, like a giant storyboard. We sometimes might lay out a whole site like a magazine publisher would pre-print. Oh, and by the way - it all looks bloody impressive to the visiting client.
  • You can’t do it all online or store everything in your noggin. Maybe use Flickr pools, iPhoto, Dropbox etc or some other kind of online scrapbooking, but ultimately a physical project space is a brilliant tool.

    This is beyond the mere moodboard. This is a designated space in the office where we collate sketches, cut-outs, ideas, early wireframes, iterations, magazines and pretty much anything. It acts as one big physical scrapbook and a catalyst for discussion - a place to meet colleagues and drive the ideas forward. If you get stuck, or need inspiration, look up and there is all the progress or ideas so far, like a giant storyboard. We sometimes might lay out a whole site like a magazine publisher would pre-print. Oh, and by the way - it all looks bloody impressive to the visiting client.
  • You can’t do it all online or store everything in your noggin. Maybe use Flickr pools, iPhoto, Dropbox etc or some other kind of online scrapbooking, but ultimately a physical project space is a brilliant tool.

    This is beyond the mere moodboard. This is a designated space in the office where we collate sketches, cut-outs, ideas, early wireframes, iterations, magazines and pretty much anything. It acts as one big physical scrapbook and a catalyst for discussion - a place to meet colleagues and drive the ideas forward. If you get stuck, or need inspiration, look up and there is all the progress or ideas so far, like a giant storyboard. We sometimes might lay out a whole site like a magazine publisher would pre-print. Oh, and by the way - it all looks bloody impressive to the visiting client.
  • You can’t do it all online or store everything in your noggin. Maybe use Flickr pools, iPhoto, Dropbox etc or some other kind of online scrapbooking, but ultimately a physical project space is a brilliant tool.

    This is beyond the mere moodboard. This is a designated space in the office where we collate sketches, cut-outs, ideas, early wireframes, iterations, magazines and pretty much anything. It acts as one big physical scrapbook and a catalyst for discussion - a place to meet colleagues and drive the ideas forward. If you get stuck, or need inspiration, look up and there is all the progress or ideas so far, like a giant storyboard. We sometimes might lay out a whole site like a magazine publisher would pre-print. Oh, and by the way - it all looks bloody impressive to the visiting client.
  • Over the last two and a half years, we at Erskine have worked together to develop a base layer of rules and conventions that act as starting points for HTML, CSS, JavaScript and ExpressionEngine for our own projects. Its a bumper compendium of cascading and connected CSS files, naming conventions, modules, plugins and library scripts that ensure any project led or worked on by any member(s) of the team will stay on convention, and be simpler for anyone else to step into and work with at any time.

    Basic HTML files & naming conventions
    CSS: Stylesheets, IE-specific, reset, scratch files.
    JavaScript: jquery, function file, transparency support
    PHP for basic templating prior to CMS integration.
    Other Assets such as set folder names for images and CMS stuff

    Constant iterations of the package are made - we’re currently on version 1.9 - and its available internally on our systems with a changelog, meaning anyone can use it as a starting point for both agency and personal projects. We’re constantly considering HTML, CSS, browsers, JavaScript, naming conventions, CMS usage and any improvements in general methods or implementations. It isn’t publicly available because it is ours - bespoke, custom, built especially for our purposes suiting our needs. If you like the idea and general approach, you’d do worse than to build your own package.

    Constantly evolving, this package is one of the most essential tools in our box.
  • Over the last two and a half years, we at Erskine have worked together to develop a base layer of rules and conventions that act as starting points for HTML, CSS, JavaScript and ExpressionEngine for our own projects. Its a bumper compendium of cascading and connected CSS files, naming conventions, modules, plugins and library scripts that ensure any project led or worked on by any member(s) of the team will stay on convention, and be simpler for anyone else to step into and work with at any time.

    Basic HTML files & naming conventions
    CSS: Stylesheets, IE-specific, reset, scratch files.
    JavaScript: jquery, function file, transparency support
    PHP for basic templating prior to CMS integration.
    Other Assets such as set folder names for images and CMS stuff

    Constant iterations of the package are made - we’re currently on version 1.9 - and its available internally on our systems with a changelog, meaning anyone can use it as a starting point for both agency and personal projects. We’re constantly considering HTML, CSS, browsers, JavaScript, naming conventions, CMS usage and any improvements in general methods or implementations. It isn’t publicly available because it is ours - bespoke, custom, built especially for our purposes suiting our needs. If you like the idea and general approach, you’d do worse than to build your own package.

    Constantly evolving, this package is one of the most essential tools in our box.
  • Over the last two and a half years, we at Erskine have worked together to develop a base layer of rules and conventions that act as starting points for HTML, CSS, JavaScript and ExpressionEngine for our own projects. Its a bumper compendium of cascading and connected CSS files, naming conventions, modules, plugins and library scripts that ensure any project led or worked on by any member(s) of the team will stay on convention, and be simpler for anyone else to step into and work with at any time.

    Basic HTML files & naming conventions
    CSS: Stylesheets, IE-specific, reset, scratch files.
    JavaScript: jquery, function file, transparency support
    PHP for basic templating prior to CMS integration.
    Other Assets such as set folder names for images and CMS stuff

    Constant iterations of the package are made - we’re currently on version 1.9 - and its available internally on our systems with a changelog, meaning anyone can use it as a starting point for both agency and personal projects. We’re constantly considering HTML, CSS, browsers, JavaScript, naming conventions, CMS usage and any improvements in general methods or implementations. It isn’t publicly available because it is ours - bespoke, custom, built especially for our purposes suiting our needs. If you like the idea and general approach, you’d do worse than to build your own package.

    Constantly evolving, this package is one of the most essential tools in our box.
  • Over the last two and a half years, we at Erskine have worked together to develop a base layer of rules and conventions that act as starting points for HTML, CSS, JavaScript and ExpressionEngine for our own projects. Its a bumper compendium of cascading and connected CSS files, naming conventions, modules, plugins and library scripts that ensure any project led or worked on by any member(s) of the team will stay on convention, and be simpler for anyone else to step into and work with at any time.

    Basic HTML files & naming conventions
    CSS: Stylesheets, IE-specific, reset, scratch files.
    JavaScript: jquery, function file, transparency support
    PHP for basic templating prior to CMS integration.
    Other Assets such as set folder names for images and CMS stuff

    Constant iterations of the package are made - we’re currently on version 1.9 - and its available internally on our systems with a changelog, meaning anyone can use it as a starting point for both agency and personal projects. We’re constantly considering HTML, CSS, browsers, JavaScript, naming conventions, CMS usage and any improvements in general methods or implementations. It isn’t publicly available because it is ours - bespoke, custom, built especially for our purposes suiting our needs. If you like the idea and general approach, you’d do worse than to build your own package.

    Constantly evolving, this package is one of the most essential tools in our box.
  • Over the last two and a half years, we at Erskine have worked together to develop a base layer of rules and conventions that act as starting points for HTML, CSS, JavaScript and ExpressionEngine for our own projects. Its a bumper compendium of cascading and connected CSS files, naming conventions, modules, plugins and library scripts that ensure any project led or worked on by any member(s) of the team will stay on convention, and be simpler for anyone else to step into and work with at any time.

    Basic HTML files & naming conventions
    CSS: Stylesheets, IE-specific, reset, scratch files.
    JavaScript: jquery, function file, transparency support
    PHP for basic templating prior to CMS integration.
    Other Assets such as set folder names for images and CMS stuff

    Constant iterations of the package are made - we’re currently on version 1.9 - and its available internally on our systems with a changelog, meaning anyone can use it as a starting point for both agency and personal projects. We’re constantly considering HTML, CSS, browsers, JavaScript, naming conventions, CMS usage and any improvements in general methods or implementations. It isn’t publicly available because it is ours - bespoke, custom, built especially for our purposes suiting our needs. If you like the idea and general approach, you’d do worse than to build your own package.

    Constantly evolving, this package is one of the most essential tools in our box.
  • Transcript

    • 1. wallswaps.com
    • 2. erskinelabs.com
    • 3. erskinesocials.com