zuLIVE

zuLive is home to musings from the zuCrew, photos, and generally anything that interests us. Don’t expect anything too polished, this is where we let it all out.

Fight User Disillusionment! Designing for Performance

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Do you ever find yourself searching for information on your phone, loading the first interesting google result only to get impatient and hit the back button for the next result? And perhaps you find yourself repeating this process over and over until your ravenous information appetite is finally satiated?

Can I get a show of hands?

The truth is this is a common situation. It’s known that ‘people will visit a web site less often if it is slower than a close competitor by more than 250 milliseconds’. But really, how quick is that you ask?…well it’s quicker than the blink of an eye. A blink takes a whopping 400ms. Although my mind has a hard time comprehending that, I know I notice it. And so do you.

I feel a twinge of pain when I check out an old website I designed and worked on for

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Designing for sloths

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Humans are micro-lazy

When we think of laziness, we tend to picture the classic couch potato, slouched with a remote in his hands, jowl-faced and armed with little ambition to do anything else. This is a generalization and a misrepresentation of laziness. I think humans suffer more from being “micro-lazy”. There’s something holding us back, making us unable to do very easy, almost effortless tasks that we’re designing around this passiveness. Traffic lights on walkways are just the latest design solution to address this epidemic of idleness.

Chill Users

I can relate

Every morning I leave the empty packages for my contact lenses on the bathroom counter. I consciously know what I’m doing. I know very well that the garbage is to my left, yet my body almost refuses to spend the extra .5 joules to

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6 things to consider before starting your next web project

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In the last decade, the web has drastically changed. From mobile, responsive, apps, and social, to the Internet of Things, it’s intimidating for anyone embarking on a digital project. Having said that, capitalizing on all the new technology is only one side of the equation when it comes to launching a project. We often get so distracted by all the shiny ideas of digital, that we sometimes lose sight of the pillars of a successful project.

I was curious to see what our zu crew viewed as important factors to a successful project, so I sat in the kitchen the other day and asked various people around the office to answer this simple question:

“For clients who are embarking on a new project, what should they REALLY be thinking about?”

Here’s some of my favourite advice:

Think about

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Our Digital Schematic

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On new digital projects involving multiple web developers, inconsistencies in style can manifest across different areas as the work grows in scale. Section margins may be different, buttons might not have the correct padding ratios, or maybe brand colours aren’t spot on. It’s also sometimes difficult to predict how certain blocks will interact with each other, or even interact with the user. How does the page flow on smaller screen sizes? What are the hover states? Are these elements animated in any way? These are all problems and questions that a digital style guide aims to answer.​

What’s a Digital Styleguide?

A style guide is your digital toolbox. A collection of design elements and code blocks that become the living, breathing components of your application. Each element is

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20 Years of Design

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20 years ago, the internet was only in its infancy. From Angelfire, to hit counters, to Web 2.0, we take a look back at the evolution of the web design, and the exciting developments still to come.

1995

Although the first website was published in 1991, websites as we know them didn’t become a “thing” until years later. Back then, there was nothing pretty about web design. Tables were often used as the only structural element, which resulted in a mess of tables within tables and spacer gifs to create white space within. Another trend was slicing, where designers would create a composition layout in a program such as Photoshop, and would then cut it into several pieces and reassemble it like a puzzle. Since this was long before the responsive era, this worked great for page performance;

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What to Expect at MoSo 2015

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zu’s Design Director, Zach Perkins, on CTV Morning today to discuss the speaker lineup at MoSo2015.

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MoSo 2015: Business on Top, Party in the Back

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MoSo Conference and Festival is just around the corner (June 18/19) and we hope everyone is ready for it, or at least fully understands the process. It’s quite the tale of two parties, and it can be difficult for people to get their heads around the concept. MoSo (it stands for MObile & SOcial, but really encompasses so much more) is a digital conference during the day and an indie music festival at night. You can either purchase a conference pass that automatically gets you into both the conference and the music festival, or buy a pass for the music portion only. There is some crossover during the event, and you will see some bands playing in venues scattered throughout the day, as well as some speaking events going into the early evening.

Photos

Here’s a quick breakdown of 2015 must-sees:...

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Making it Human

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A few months ago zu’s Strategic Director, Albert Jame, wrote about the power of stories and their ability to engender feelings of pride, ownership and desire in consumers towards brands, companies and products. Stories have long been used by companies to sell products and by sports teams to build fan support and loyalty. It’s hard to overemphasize the power that stories can have in connecting people to organizations that they are otherwise far removed from, to make the abstract relatable.

This ability to turn the complex into something tangible reaches beyond businesses and consumers, though. Recently we’ve been using this ability to better understand the experiences that our clients’ user base are having, and communicate ways in which we can, and will, improve these user

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Establishing Your Online Presence

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We were invited back once again to CTV Morning Live to discuss setting up your own personal or business website, and the benefits of transitioning into a more customized web design. Ryan speaks on the issues of device compatibility, ease of use, and suggests Facebook as an inexpensive way to get started.

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Top Takeaways From UX Intensive: Brooklyn

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We laughed, we cried, we wireframed. What a week it was in downtown Brooklyn, at Adaptive Path’s UX Intensive workshop, working through four jam packed days with 70 UX practitioners from around the world.

The days were split into 4 streams: Design Strategy, Research, Service Design and finally, Interaction Design. Each course was led by a different member of the Adaptive Path team, while the others helped teams along the way. We have quite a few key takeaways from these workshops. Some are being implemented into our overall process at zu, while others are on the horizon. Here are our Top 8 Takeaways:

1. New practical approaches to user research

You are not your user. This theme was repeated often, and thus we were taught several methods of collecting feedback from users. While most

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Some inspiration from UX Week 2014

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This year I was lucky enough to attend UX Week 2014 in San Francisco. So what does two full days of listening to inspirational speakers combined with two days of great workshops equal? An extremely tired but motivated designer. In a quick summary I will take you through my journey at a user experience conference.

Designing for people

The main event began on Tuesday with a flurry of amazing speakers.

Amanda Dameron from Dwell started things off by reminding us that good design, no matter the discipline, needs to be applied to all humankind. “Designs must think about users based on strengths not weaknesses”. Amanda went on to introduce Michael Graves, a well-known architect. After becoming paralyzed, it not only changed Michael’s life but also changed his design approach and practice,

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Zurgermania: June 12 at MoSo Conference & Festival, Saskatoon, SK

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Come by for a burger and some beats!
Put some beats on that burger!

After a long day of sessions and before a longer night of music, stop by Kinsmen Hall in Saskatoon. Not only will you be able to unwind for a bit, but there will be plenty of “refreshments” on hand and an amazing BBQ Burger Bar.

These burgers aren’t for the feint of heart. If you want choice, you got it. How about a burger bar with more toppings than you can shake your etch a sketch at? In addition to the regular toppings, try real bacon bits, banana pepper, funky sauces, maple syrup, pickled carrots, asparagus, avocado slices, red pepper slides, sprouts, hummus, sun dried tomatoes, buffalo sauce, aoli, marshmallows or potato chips. There will even be a few more surprise toppings. And what would a BBQ without some other action? We’ve got Corn Hole, Ping

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Ladies Learning Code in yxe

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​Web development can be an intimidating prospect. When Marli Bells, Web Developer at zu, and Brittany Melnyk, UofS Computer Sciences, first attended university, they had no interest in computer sciences. After taking an introductory class they fell in love with it and started down a path to becoming computer programmers. Now, Marli and Brittany are heading up efforts to bring that same experience to women throughout the Saskatoon community through their third Ladies Learning Code event.

Ladies Learning Code is a not-for-profit that works to empower everyone to feel comfortable learning beginner-level technical skills in a social, collaborative way. So far, Marli and Brittany have hosted events on HTML/CSS basics as well as mobile and responsive website design, and now the third event

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The UX Lunch: Three Takeaways

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zu and MPATH (specializing in user experience design and digital strategy) took the user experience presentation on the road to Regina, Saskatchewan with a new spin to engage communication and digital marketing professionals.

“Ain’t no mountain high enough” UX lunch at Crave in Regina on May 8 2014

Albert Jame and Derek Leverington spoke to a packed house at Crave Restaurant. The key takeaways this time around were a set of tactics for improving user experience by bringing consistency to customer and stakeholder touch points. Here are three takeaways:

1. Create journey maps to align touch points and enhance user experience

Albert spoke about the importance of cataloguing your organization’s touch points and creating a journey map. Every touch point should be considered when

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