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Cognition

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  1. Re-cognition 2013

    It’s been a memorable year for us at Happy Cog. 2012 was big, but 2013 was even bigger, so we’re taking some time to reflect—both in our offices and here on Cognition.

    We welcomed 14 new people this year, making Happy Cog the largest group of talented, fun-loving folks it’s ever been. Some highlights from this year: launching websites for AMC Theatres, Black Hills Corporation (and its trio of utility sites), Yale School of Management, Harvard Business School, and Longwood Gardens; working with Iron Chef Jose Garces’ team to create a design system for its restaurant websites—and breaking into an industry we’ve been a fan of for quite some time; working with our friends at MTV on our third O Music Awards site and celebration; and collaborating with talented folks at Crush & Lovely to create a video about our work with Ben & Jerry’s.

  2. Release the Devs

    “At Happy Cog, process is not sacred.”

    I wrote that in my very first Cognition article way way back in 2011. Everything at Happy Cog is changing as we speak. Next week, our Philly location moves to a shiny new office. We’ve added lots of new hires, but our passion for process remains consistent. We’re constantly revisiting the best way to do things. Our business and the technologies that support it move at a lightning pace. To remain competitive and effective, our process evolves in tandem.

  3. It’s About Damn Time

    The last two months have been a whirlwind of activity and positive evolution for Happy Cog.We have been on a small, carefully-planned hiring spree for almost all of our departments. We put a lot of mileage on our Authentic Jobs account, put our personal networks to good use, and ended up hiring eight new people. With the latest acceptance letter received weeks ago, Happy Cog has hit the 30-person mark, and we’re still not done; we’ve got a few designers to hire for the Austin office.

  4. The Dumbest Man in Congress

    Years ago, when men wore hats and the world was black and white, a small-town newspaper roused the ire of its hometown legislator, one Phineas P. Farnsworth, by labeling him “the dumbest man in Congress.”

    Not one to consider the merits of a criticism or take it lying down, the offended congressman immediately convened a press conference in Washington, DC. Journalists representing all the big American newspapers duly gathered to learn what was on the heretofore-unnoticed representative’s mind.

  5. Keep Calm and Carry On

    You know the poster: the one that was really amazingly-inspiring for a few minutes in 2000 until it was killed by hundreds of parodies. I’ll admit it. I loved it when I first saw it. Still do.

  6. So Why Should I Speak Publicly?

    No matter who you are or how much time you’ve spent in the field, you have unique experiences that have shaped you and helped you to grow. And you may not realize it yet, but you can have a tremendous impact upon others just by sharing your expertise. Its time for you (yes, you) to enter the realm of public speaking. If you can find the right audience, they will eagerly listen and learn.

  7. Hi. We’re Happy Cog Hosting. It’s Nice to Meet You, Again!

    In March of 2011, Happy Cog expanded its offerings by launching a high-end hosting service. With the help of many (see whose back we got), our introduction to hosting began. As with any new business, nothing is easy. When this service began we knew what we wanted to offer because we knew what we sought when evaluating a hosting provider.

  8. I’m Really Listening

    I remember the day I got my first pair of headphones. I was five years old and the Easter Bunny brought me a Smurfs walkman radio. It was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I spent hours with those things on—in the car, in the house, outside riding my big wheel. I can’t really remember what I was listening to back then. After all, I was five, and it was an AM/FM radio, so suffice it to say, it was probably nothing that anyone else in my world wanted to hear. Well played, Mom and Dad.

  9. The Tech Behind Site Week

    In February we gathered a group together in our Philadelphia office to redesign and rebuild our happycog.com website in one week. The goal of our Site Week was to redesign the website (Greg Hoy covers the thinking behind this in a Cognition post back in Janauary) and to push ourselves to do something different.

  10. An Interview with Jeffrey Zeldman, First SXSW Hall of Fame Inductee

    The Happy Cog team could not be more thrilled that our founder, mentor, and good friend, Jeffrey Zeldman, has been selected to be the first inductee into the SXSW Hall of Fame. We thought it might be fun to sit down for a fireside chat, and ask a few questions that he hasn’t answered before in other interviews. Our User Experience Director and karaoke raconteur, Kevin M. Hoffman, spoke with Jeffrey about his long relationship with the SXSW conference, his career inspiration, and a few things you might not know about the man behind Designing With Web Standards, A List Apart, An Event Apart, A Book Apart, and more.

  11. I Went to Site Week and All I Got Was a Better Future.

    I grew up in the small farming town of Palmer, Alaska. Aside from Alaska being Alaska, not much happened that made the evening news. Not even our weather was exciting enough to ever be called out as “the coldest spot.” That honor was always reserved for villages hundreds of miles up north. We finally landed on the map one winter when a group of developers, contractors, plumbers, electricians, painters, interior decorators, and furniture store owners attempted to break a world record by building an entire house in 24 hours, just across the street from our high school.

  12. Redesign Week

    What do they say about the cobbler’s son? The dude is always barefoot? Or the carpenter’s house has no roof? Stupid carpenter.

    Yeah. That’s kind of us right now with happycog.com. Granted, we have shoes, and we have a roof. But the shoes have some holes in the soles and the roof leaks just enough to make your hair wet.

  13. Streamlining Internal Communications

    Three and a half years ago, I left the world of traditional print marketing and entered the world of the Interwebs. My old company said “No!” to video chatting or instant messaging in the office and worried more about proper email subject line etiquette than finding the best ways to communicate with each other. Change was in store as I entered the land of Instant Messaging (IM) and Skype, Basecamp and Campfire, but was it a change for the better or do more lines of communication further complicate things? I found myself being asked a similar question by a couple folks at a Dribbble holiday meet up this past December. I was asked how I manage projects, how we communicate as a team, and more specifically, how I manage communications in a virtual environment.

  14. Targeting Twenty Twelve

    We Happy Coggers have much to look forward to in 2012. This year will see the launch of our longest-running, largest project ever. (Stay tuned.) We’ll be firmly rooting our stronghold in a brand new city, Austin, TX, perhaps eating some barbecue in the process. We’ve also moved into a new studio space in NYC, An Event Apart is in more cities than ever before, A Book Apart is publishing critical new thinking on the web industry, and A List Apart will be evolving as well.

  15. Writing to remember

    Writing to Remember

    10/27/11

    by Ryan Irelan

    7 Responses

    For the last 5 ½ years, I’ve worked from home. So except for the occasional on-site meeting, almost all of my meetings have been done on the phone. If you were a fly on the wall in my office during a phone meeting, you’d see me with my head down scribbling notes while listening, scribbling notes while talking, and even asking for a moment so I can take more notes.

    During in-person meetings, I also try to take as many notes as possible. I often scribble notes while others are talking, and if I’m the one doing the talking—or if the discussion is a fast paced back-and-forth—I try to jot down as much as I can during breaks in the conversation. Sometimes I’m able to pen a few keywords in the middle of conversations that I can go back to later (during a break, perhaps) and elaborate on so as to not forget the most salient information.

  16. Flattery is overrated

    My business partner Jeffrey Zeldman once said, “Don’t worry about people stealing your design work. Worry about the day they stop.” I smell what he’s cooking, but on a practical level, people who build websites should start taking the protection of their work seriously and stop complaining on Twitter when they find out someone ripped them off. Myself included.

  17. Make Sweet Systems Sweeter

    At Happy Cog, process is not sacred. We respect process, but we are constantly looking to improve the way our projects run; especially with regard to transitioning between project phases. Last week, Yesenia Perez-Cruz described how she crafts sweet systems and digital cupcakes. This week, I’m going to show you how we turn those cupcakes into a well-built tower of yummy cupcakery.

  18. Illustration by Yesenia Perez-Cruz

    What’s the ROI on Cool?

    Industry creative folks I’m friends with personally and respect professionally have uttered the following to me on multiple occasions:

    “I want to make cool shit.”

    I’ll be honest, I just don’t get it. To be fair, it’s safe to say I don’t get “cool” in general. I routinely dress like I’m headed to a corporate team-building ropes course, and I’m still waiting for Firefly to be picked up for season 2. So maybe it’s no surprise that the quest for cool escapes me. I don’t get the allure of making something cool for the sake of it being cool. Further, I don’t understand how you sell that to clients, or more importantly, why they would pay for it.

  19. Waterloo.

    A month ago, after drinking a few Sundowns in celebration of turning forty years of age, I bought myself a pair of Old Gringos. They are a worn-in light brown and are adorned with a fierce phoenix stitched in the front of each boot. For those who know me, they’re thinking that this purchase was completely influenced by a tequila fueled mid-life crisis, but they would be mostly wrong. For you see, I acquired this tall footwear after being advised that you can’t do business in Texas without a pair of cowboy boots.