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From a 2011 issue of Fortune:

At Apple there's never confusion as to who is responsible for what. In Apple's parlance, a DRI's name (directly responsible individual) always appear on the agenda for a meeting, so that everyone knows who's the right contact for a project.
We need one of those from every client. In our kick-off meetings, we establish a key point of contact who is designated to handle all communication. Not only does this streamline discussions, it also reduces confusion or conflicts in design decisions.

It's a simple thing that goes a long way toward a smooth web design process.

Source: How Apple works: Inside the world's biggest startup

In the last 30 days, I have received an average of 56 emails per day.How do I keep up? I use three simple but powerful features in Gmail.

Stop distracting automated emails

I do this by filtering emails containing the word "unsubscribe," and emails from "from:donotreply." A real live person would never have "donotreply" as their email address, and the majority of automated emails will contain an unsubscribe link. By marking them as read, I can see at a glance that they're not important, and they won't increment my unread counter.

Scheduled Email Reminders

Boomerang lets you temporarily remove emails from your inbox. This serves two important functions for me. First, since I use my inbox as a to-do list, I can get non-priority emails out of my inbox temporarily. The second is as a reminder. The "only if nobody responds" is a great feature to remind me to follow-up with people.

Auto Responders

If you need a break from your email, set an auto-responder informing people of how often you check your email and when they can expect a reply. This sets their expectations, and creates a schedule for you to follow. Tim Ferris' blog has some sample emails to get you started.

Email can be a productivity-killer. It's tough to get away from it because it feels work, but if you can manage your Pavlovian response to the "Ding!" of your inbox, you'll be happier and more productive.

Photos taken from Instagram around our office, at client meetings, and sometimes in between.




Early to a meeting, we snapped this shot out of the Bean (not Cloudgate) before the tourists arrived.


20x30 print of the Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day hung up in our lobby


Prototyping a status board using Geckoboard and a spare computer. Successful, this should be moved to an HDTV next month.


We toured the Obama for America headquarters where several of our tech friends work.



Client swag from our Kraut Rocks project in September.


Custom blended coffee brewed for our client on-boarding program.


Tech offices aren't complete until they have antlers.


We live streamed the Apple in our conference room... and placed gentlemans' bets on product specs announced.




Mobile audience demographics for US females, ages 18-24, college educated.

What are the top smartphones and mobile devices in the US?

Top 10 Mobile Devices*
Apple iPhone - 60.8%
Apple iPad - 15.5%
SonyEricsson LT15i - 2.2%
Apple iPod Touch - 2.7%
Samsung Galaxy S II - 0.76%
Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 0.72%
Motorola DroidX - 0.71%
HTC Droid Incredible 2 - 0.69%
Motorola xt875 Droid Bionic - 0.56%
Motorola Droid Razr 4G - 0.53%

*Though these 10 represent most of the landscape, there were 271 unique devices, most of them Android.


What is smartphone marketshare in the US?

Mobile Operating Systems:
iOS - 78.99%
Android - 22.33%
Windows Phone - 0.71%
BlackBerry - 0.68%
SymbianOS - 0.07%

Data based on 92,386 new US visitors to calmingmanatee.com
We attended (and sponsored) BarCamp Milwaukee 7, a participatory “un-conference” event, where the attendees are in charge of what happens. For the third year in a row, the event was hosted at BucketWorks, a sprawling co-working and hacker space.

We love the event because it brings together people interested in teaching and learning in an open environment to share their knowledge and experience. While BarCamps are typically technology focused, some other sessions included rolling your own sushi, and beekeeping.


Artemis, a starship simulator, where "the captain" (seen standing) must direct his "officers" without ever using a computer.


Demonstration of a reprap 3D printer. This one looks like it's printing a phone booth, or more likely a Tardis. Melted plastic cable is extruded via a CNC head on top a heated bed. By layering the plastic cable, 3D objects are rapidly "printed."


A DIY 3D scanner, used here in conjunction with a 3D printer. A Dell mini projector (mounted top) projects a variety of geometric patterns on to an object. The camera below captures it, and software is able to create an impressive 3D model.


The owner of BeePods teaches us about beekeeping.


Learn more:
BarCamp [Wikipedia]

Mobile audience demographics for US females, ages 18-24, college educated.

What are the top smartphones and mobile devices in the US?

Top 10 Mobile Devices*
  • Apple iPhone - 50.72%
  • Apple iPad - 12.77%
  • SonyEricsson LT15i - 6.37%
  • Apple iPod Touch - 4.31%
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 1.86%
  • Samsung Galaxy S II - 0.79%
  • HTC Inspire 4G - 0.59%
  • HTC Droid Incredible 2 - 0.57%
  • HTC EVO 4G - 0.56%
  • Huawei Ascend II - 0.49%

  • *Though these 10 represent most of the landscape, there were 151 unique devices, most of them Android.


    What is smartphone marketshare in the US?

    Mobile Operating Systems:
    • iOS - 75.61%
  • Android - 22.33%
  • BlackBerry - 1.34%
  • Windows Phone - 0.60%
  • SymbianOS - 0.04%


  • Data based on 83,349 new US visitors to calmingmanatee.com
    I thought I'd share with you some questions that we've answered recently for colleagues.

    Q: How are you cross-device testing?
    A: We're using test devices and Adobe Edge Inspect (formerly Shadow.) At the start of a project, we look at existing analytics to determine the audience's most common devices, and then we seek out the ones we don't have. One tip to keep costs down is to purchase bad ESN devices from eBay.

    Q: How do you keep from downloading hidden content on smaller screens?
    A: Load auxiliary elements conditionally. Start with the mobile site as your default CSS, then use media queries for the larger desktop versions.

    Q: How do you handle cross-browser compatibility?
    A: HTML conditions for browser-CSS when possible. This reduces loading time for non-targeted browsers.

    Q: How many form factors do you follow in RWD?
    A: We let content determine breakpoints, not device viewports. We try to get as close to a fluid layout that works on everything as possible. Some people call picking device breakpoints instead of content is "adaptive design" not "responsive design."
    Users don't read, they skim. If they can't skim, they leave. We can make our websites skim-friendly by establishing rules of good typography.

    Body copy should be 16px. 
    This might look huge in your Word Document, but it won't on the web. You're not writing a thesis paper for a professor, you're writing to sell.

    Line spacing should be 1.5. 
    I know what you're thinking. "But the page will be so long!" That's true, but pixels are free and users have known how to scroll since the nineties.

    Line lengths should be 52-78 characters. 
    Remember newspapers? (I'm sure someone still reads them.) Ever wonder why they use multiple columns of text instead of just one really wide column? It's because there's an ideal width to improve readability. Any given line of text should be between two and three alphabets long.

    Use almost black text on an almost white background. 
    At a glance, the user will think it's just black on white text, but the text will look slightly smoother than usual. This is because we've given the operating system's anti-aliasing some breathing room to do sub-pixel hinting on our font. (The explanation is a bit technical for me, too, but I know it works.)

    What are your biggest annoyances when trying to read a website? Tell us on Twitter: @ethercycle