Posts Tagged:efficiency

rfp-robotRFP ROBOT: Website Request for Proposal Generator

The time has come for a new website (or website redesign), which means you need to write a website request for proposal or web RFP. A Google search produces a few examples, but they vary wildly and don’t seem to speak really to your goals for developing or redesigning a new website. You need to write a website RFP that will clearly articulate your needs and generate responses from the best website designers and developers out there. But how?

Have no fear, RFP Robot is here. He will walk you through a step-by-step process to help you work through the details of your project and create a PDF formatted website design RFP that will provide the information vendors need to write an accurate bid. RFP Robot will tell you what info you should include, point out pitfalls, and give examples.

Sunlight Photonics

Pixeldust designed and developed a Flash-based site to convey Sunlight’s prestigious nature and innovative vision. Sunlight Photonics is a venture-backed company focused on developing low cost, high efficiency renewable energy sources based on solar power. Led by a team of highly experienced world-class scientists, Sunlight is on the fast-track to soon become the international leader in clean energy solutions.

How Do You Put a Border on Three Sides of an Element?

I saw a little conversation about this the other day and figured it would be fun to look at all the different ways to do it. None of them are particularly tricky, but perhaps you’ll favor one over another for clarity of syntax, efficiency, or otherwise. Let’s assume we want a border on the bottom, left, and right (but not top) of an element. Explicitly declare each side .three-sides { border-bottom: 2px solid black; border-right: 2px solid black; border-left: 2px solid black; } While that’s pretty clear, it’s still making use of shorthand. Completely expanded it would be like this: .three-sides { border-bottom-color: black; border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 2px; border-left-color: black; border-left-style: solid; border-left-width: 2px; border-right-color: black; border-right-style: solid; border-right-width: 2px; } Knock off one of the sides You can save a little code by declaring the border on all four sides with shorthand and then removing the one you don’t…

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Using feature detection to write CSS with cross-browser support

In early 2017, I presented a couple of workshops on the topic of CSS feature detection, titled CSS Feature Detection in 2017. A friend of mine, Justin Slack from New Media Labs, recently sent me a link to the phenomenal Feature Query Manager extension (available for both Chrome and Firefox), by Nigerian developer Ire Aderinokun. This seemed to be a perfect addition to my workshop material on the subject. However, upon returning to the material, I realized how much my work on the subject has aged in the last 18 months. The CSS landscape has undergone some tectonic shifts: The Atomic CSS approach, although widely hated at first, has gained some traction through libraries like Tailwind, and perhaps influenced the addition of several new utility classes to Bootstrap 4. CSS-in-JS exploded in popularity, with Styled Components at the forefront of the movement. The CSS Grid Layout spec has been adopted…

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Ceci n’est pas une prototype.

Recently, I’ve been inundated with promotions for new design tools, all promising that they will bridge the gap between design and code. While that is a noble endeavor, I disagree with their premise. Colm Tuitte from Modulz sums up the supposed problem: “Even the most powerful UI design tools are just drawing tools that export disposable assets.” It’s a common critique. Even the most “advanced” digital design tools are based on workflows for drawing mere pictures of interfaces.— Daniel Eden (@_dte) July 28, 2017 These statements imply that UI design work that can’t be exported directly into code is a wasted effort. I think we’ve lost sight of what design tools are actually for. Magritte’s The Treachery of Images, which includes the statement “This is not a pipe,” reveals that this is a representation of a pipe, not the pipe itself. Similarly, current critique of design tools asserts that they are…

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Combining the Powers of SEM and BIO for Improving CSS

CSS is easy, some might argue, but that “easiness” can cause messy code. This is especially true through power of preprocessors like Sass or Less where, if you aren’t careful, your CSS can become harder to deal with instead of easier. Sass? Harder? This Gist shows a great example of Sass nesting hell. If your Sass code looks like that, you can definitely improve your code with SEM & BIO, a CSS technique I’ll introduce you to now! In this article, I am going to use the code example below to explain how SEM and BIO works and how they can help enhance your CSS strategy. See the Pen by thebabydino (@thebabydino) on CodePen. Generally, SEM is concerned with high level CSS philosophy whereas BIO is an actual technique to help you write better CSS to achieve SEM. The main purpose of both SEM and BIO is to better handle…

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A Specification Tool for Drupal 8

Revered management thinker Peter Drucker once wrote, “If you can’t replicate something because you don’t understand it, then it really hasn’t been invented; it’s only been done.” In many ways content modeling in Drupal has been done without being invented. There is no accepted method of analysis, no common format for specification, no process for change management, no best practices for testing. Consequently outcomes are highly variable. For this reason, we’re developing a discipline for content modeling at Acquia. It’s drastically reducing both costs and defect rates for us, and we’re sharing it with you in this post. Introducing the Drupal Spec Tool The cornerstone of the discipline is something we call the Drupal Spec Tool, consisting of a spreadsheet and automated testing infrastructure. Why a Specification Tool? A standard specification format is an industry’s answer to the difficulty of validating, communicating, and conceptualizing complex solutions. Every professional domain has…

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Decoupling Drupal 8 with JSON API

In a previous installment of Experience Express, we explored how effective core REST out of the box can be for the purposes of consuming content retrieved from Drupal and manipulating said data as well. Furthermore, with the help of Views, any content listing can be easily converted into an API resource. As these features indicate, Drupal 8 is a powerful web services provider that can expose content to any consumer application on any channel. Nonetheless, sometimes our requirements far exceed the functionality available to us. As we saw in the previous post, core REST only allows for individual entities to be retrieved, and Views REST exports only permit the issuance of GET requests rather than unsafe methods as well. But application developers often need greater flexibility and control, such as the ability to fetch collections, sort and paginate them, and access related entities that are referenced. In this column, we’ll…

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Bolster Your Editorial Content with Data: Four Approaches

In recent year, journalism outlets have further embraced data as a primary means of editorial storytelling. Mainstays such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal have built dedicated teams specializing in quantitative data analysis and visualization in service of telling compelling news stories. At the same time, newer outlets such as FiveThirtyEight and Vox tout their data-forward journalism. This approach to journalism isn’t new. All good journalism uses data, typically qualitative, to inform and inspire. However, modern tools and computing power allow editorial teams to access, analyze and share large quantitative datasets with a speed and efficiency previously impossible. Data-forward storytelling isn’t a replacement for good journalism. Instead, it’s one part of a toolset that can augment a story by providing meaningful context and opportunities for further audience engagement. There are a few specific ways it can provide unique value: Provide Context Quantitative data can…

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A Better Sketch File, a Better Designer, a Better You

I’ve been thinking about this post by Isabel Lee for the last couple of weeks — it’s all about how we should be more considerate when making designs in Sketch. They argue that we’re more likely to see real efficiency and organizational improvements in our work if we name our layers, artboards, and pages properly. Isabel writes: Keeping a super organized Sketch file has helped me smooth out my design process and saved me time when I was trying to find a specific component or understand an archived design. For instance, I was looking for an icon that I used six months ago and it was (relatively) easy to find because all my artboards and layers were well-named and grouped reverse-chronologically. I was also able to cross-reference it with my meeting notes from around that time. If I hadn’t done any of that work (thanks Past Isabel!), I probably would’ve…

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Consistent Design Systems in Sketch With Atomic Design and the Auto-Layout Plugin

Do you design digital products (or websites) and hand design files off to developers for implementation? If you answered yes, settle in! While the should-designers-code debate rages on, we’re going to look at how adding a methodology to your design workflow can make you faster, more consistent, and loved by all developers… even if you don’t code. Let’s dig in! Why a methodology? In the development world, it seems like at least half of your career is about staying up to date with new tech and leveling up your skills. While the pace may not be quite as frantic in the design landscape as it is in development, there definitely has been a huge shift in tools over the past three years or so. Tools like Sketch have made a lot of the old pain of working in design files a thing of the past. Smart combinations of text styles,…

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Design Systems: Problems & Solutions

Why do you need a Design System? In a previous article, we shared our thoughts on why Design Systems may be on the rise. Now, let’s further explore why you might need one. What are some of the common problems organizations face without a Design System, and how can one help? Common Problems Here are a few warning signs that might indicate you need to think about implementing a Design System: Process bottlenecks Through agile development methodologies, rapid release cycles have improved the ability for organizations to make timely and recurring updates. This means that individuals in organizations have had to do things more quickly than they used to. The benefits of speed often come at a cost. Usually, that cost is a compromise in quality. How will you ensure quality without introducing bottlenecks to your release cycles? Design inconsistencies Because your design needs have had to keep up with…

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Working with BLT: An Automation Layer for Testing, Building, and Launching Drupal 8 Applications

Overview Mike Madison, a Technical Architect in Acquia Professional Services, recently completed a Drupal site build for a major public transit agency in the United States. I spoke with him in December 2017 about his experiences using BLT on this project. Mike said that BLT has been a critical component of the project’s success, and has especially helped in three primary ways: by accelerating project spinup, improving developer onboarding, and increasing development velocity and delivery consistency. About the project This transit agency set out to improve the efficiency of its customer experience, and create a cohesive user journey across all touchpoints and channels. To provide every commuter with the right experience, on the right device, at the right time, they needed to extend the information accessed on their website into train stations and platforms, as well as create an intranet. This required the ability to push screen-based information, news, and…

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Comparing Novel vs. Tried and True Image Formats

Popular image file formats such as JPG, PNG, and GIF have been around for a long time. They are relatively efficient and web developers have introduced many optimization solutions to further compress their size. However, the era of JPGs, PNGs, and GIFs may be coming to an end as newer, more efficient image file formats aim to take their place. We’re going to explore these newer file formats in this post along with an analysis of how they stack up against one another and the previous formats. We will also cover optimization techniques to improve the delivery of your images. Why do we need new image formats at all? Aside from image quality, the most noticeable difference between older and newer image formats is file size. New formats use algorithms that are more efficient at compressing data, so the file sizes can be much smaller. In the context of web…

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Accelerate Drupal 8 by funding a Core Committer

We have ambitious goals for Drupal 8, including new core features such as Workspaces (content staging) and Layout Builder (drag-and-drop blocks), completing efforts such as the Migration path and Media in core, automated upgrades, and adoption of a JavaScript framework. I met with several of the coordinators behind these initiatives. Across the board, they identified the need for faster feedback from Core Committers, citing that a lack of Committer time was often a barrier to the initiative’s progress. We have worked hard to scale the Core Committer Team. When Drupal 8 began, it was just catch and myself. Over time, we added additional Core Committers, and the team is now up to 13 members. We also added the concept of Maintainer roles to create more specialization and focus, which has increased our velocity as well. I recently challenged the Core Committer Team and asked them what it would take to…

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Copywriting Q&A: Why I Won’t Use Google Docs for Copywriting

Technology has provided us with a lot of more efficient ways to collaborate with peers and clients. Screen-sharing is a game-changer for working with designers remotely, and Skype means you can have a face-to-face meeting with anyone in the world. There’s one technology, though, that gets in the way of great copywriting. Here’s why I won’t use Google Docs when I write… Today’s question comes from Greg C., who asks, “I usually use just regular Word documents when I write. But should I consider using Google Docs? Would that be better for working with my clients?” Any technology you can find that makes it easier to work with your clients is a good thing. But I’m going to challenge the assumption that Google Docs makes anything easier between you and your clients. The premise of Google Docs is that you have one shared document that lives on the internet. You…

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Your Trackpad Can Do More

For those who make a living on the computer, aspiring to be a power user is a no-brainer. We tend to associate that term with things like keyboard shortcuts, and, at Viget, we unsurprisingly are huge fans of incorporating them into our workflow to speed things up. Seriously. We’ve written about it a lot. Keyboard shortcuts are undeniably important, but they’re not our only option to boost efficiency. What about when your hands aren’t on the keys? If you’re using your right hand to scroll down this page right now, what would be the quickest way to switch tabs? If that hand is resting on a trackpad, the answer should be obvious — yet, inexplicably, we’ve been conditioned to think of that magical rectangle as capable of just a select few actions. Let’s change that. BetterTouchTool is an inexpensive macOS menu bar app from Andreas Hegenberg that allows you to…

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Cloud Storage as a CDN Option

Inspired Magazine Inspired Magazine – creativity & inspiration daily If you have a slow site, probably on shared server that receives a lot of traffic, you may be able to speed things up a bit by hosting some of your content on a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Unfortunately traditional CDN is often priced out of reach for a small business website, but the good news is there is a way to set up cloud storage drives to act as your own personal CDN systems. In this article we’ll discover some methods for doing that. Cloud storage CDN emulation vs pure CDN The main difference is cost and volume. Pure CDN usually works out cheaper for high traffic volumes and more expensive for low traffic volumes. Because a typical small business isn’t likely to see the kind of traffic that would make pure CDN worth it, emulating CDN functionality with cloud…

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