Last weekend our resident tinkerer, Andy, set up a meltmedia Hack Day. We took over the meltEast kitchen with plenty to play with: Arduinos and Arduino kits, LEGO Mindstorms, LEGO Star Wars sets, and of course, some code hacking as well. There was plenty of power strips, cables, pizza, and QT sodas to go around, and the day resulted in only one blown out surge protector. It was a fun and relaxing way to get some work done and to start (or feed) an electronics hobby.
Even though meltmedia’s been a company for over 12 years now, we’ve produced relatively few versions of meltmedia.com. We’ve been blessed in that most of our time is spent creating custom solutions for really awesome clients. Sometimes we’re so busy we forget to show our own site a little love. And, as many people in our industry know, sometimes designing for yourself can be the most difficult project of all.
Practice what we preach.
For this refresh, we wanted to stay focused and follow the advice we often give our clients. We preach that content is king and to keep things simple. We recommend against unnecessary animations and in favor of removing features that don’t add any value for the user. And of course, when done correctly, less is more. While using CSS3 animations and cool JS libraries can be fun and innovative, in the end, we want the site to be accessible, fast, and to provide good content.
About two years ago, meltmedia sponsored a local event called Ignite Phoenix. Being a sponsor, they allowed us to have a 30-second video played before the show. Wanting to make an impression, we brainstormed, wrote, filmed and ended up with The Art of Analog Computing. At closer to 5 minutes, our video poses the question, “What if your everyday digital interactions were suddenly analog?”
Watch the completed video and view some behind-the-scenes goodies after the jump.
There are millions of websites on the innertubes and with all the traffic and browsing being done every second, many people don’t take the time to ask themselves or their company one simple question: What does my website say about me?
I don’t necessarily mean the literal text and words on your website. I mean, what is the feeling, the impression, the gut reaction people have when they get to your site?
More importantly, do you even know what you want them to think?
Recently, we were invited to talk on a number of tech topics at a small in-house corporate conference, mostly geared toward mobile web and apps. One topic for which I gathered information was a list of the latest technology trends I thought this audience (brand management) should keep an eye on.
To make sure this tech trend list wasn’t just my singular world view of trendy tech, I searched a number of sources online and compiled a unified list of about 26 of the most mentioned techs I found. I then had our illustrious and tech-savvy team here at meltmedia check off the items in that list that they thought were truly trending tech for 2012. I compiled the results and wanted to share them outside of that conference.
The best part about this list is the title of ten words which fits it to a T: The Two Thousand Twelve Top Ten Tech Trends To Track
Over the last year or so, our team embarked on moving from a typical Waterfall development approach to implementing a Scrum/Agile approach. While there are plenty of good blogs about making this transition from a development standpoint, I have not seen a lot of good information on what this change means from a business standpoint for an agency or professional services firm.
One of our biggest challenges is aligning the benefits of Agile to the way sales are accomplished in the organization. Our most effective sales approach has always been to have a fixed budget, fairly defined scope, and to provide timeline windows (X months, etc.).
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) can be long, tedious, and exhaustive. They can leave a reader crossed-eyed and a writer with full-blown Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. But, they might be some of the most important documents in a post-launch plan – and it’s possible you never use them.
So What Is an SLA Anyway?
An SLA is a document in which you formally define the services to be provided by the vendor in support of a client’s project, specifically post-launch. The list of services can range from performance expectations to issue/support triage. Well-defined SLAs should leave few questions for the vendors or client when a problem arises.
The argument between whether the web is dead and mobile apps will reign supreme or vice versa has been a hot topic lately. My recommendation is to forget this argument for now. The web and apps are here to stay over the next few years and the discussion should be focused on what does this mean for your business. I see the following innovation cycle, described below, continuing to occur over the next few years. Understanding this cycle will help drive your mobile strategy.
Software development organizations are trying to realize the benefits of moving to more Agile methodology, often with limited success. When product owners are asked what is most difficult about the transition from traditional to Agile development, the overwhelming response is focused on managing the impacts of change … on the team, on the client, and the project.
Meltmedia has also decided to take that leap into Agile and similar challenges. But, by working closely with our teams and our clients, we have identified some fundamental practices to mitigate change impact.
Step 1: Reduce the impact of change requests on your team.
The introduction of Agile has allowed development teams to more quickly produce high quality, functioning software for their clients. During short iterations (sprints), teams deliver production-ready units of work, receive client feedback, and make requested adjustments. This allows for faster course corrections when original requirements weren’t well understood or when business circumstances change. In fact, “regular adaptation to change” is one of the fundamental principles that form the foundation of Agile.
Let’s cut right to the chase, no, it didn’t. But it did get a great deal of bad design in front of a very substantial audience. Truthfully, bad design has been around for as long as there have been bad designers, and that’s a long time. The only major difference is that in the past, far more consideration was paid before sending designs to print, mostly due to cost. Now with the internet, anybody with a few simple graphics tools and some dubious knowledge can get their designs in front of millions.
Arguing over semantics is pointless, right? Not when it comes to your markup. Semantic HTML is a crucial skill that many junior website-makers ignore. Using smart, semantic markup will make sites more future-proofed, more accessible, friendlier to search bots, and much less headache-inducing for the human side of the matter.
What Is Semantic HTML?
What does it mean for markup to be semantic? It means that your markup tells a story. HTML is not just a series of elements thrown together on a page; it needs to represent the meaning of the website. Remember junior high when you had to make outlines with endless roman numerals and headlines for organization? That’s how your HTML should feel. Every element should represent something real– not something merely for presentation. And if it doesn’t, find a better way to write it.