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Cognition

Team

We’ve written 28 blog posts about Team. View all topics »

  1. So, You’ve Hired an Intern. Now What?

    Interns can make your life as an employer a little bit easier. They are the extra pair of hands you’ve always needed, and unbridled creativity fills their minds. Interns strive to be a valuable asset to your team and want an educational and enjoyable experience. Since they are only around for a few months, making the best use of both their and your time should be a common goal. Great interns put in 110% effort every day, but what can you, the employer, do to ensure that internships are valuable for both of you?

  2. ’Tis but thy name that is my (fr)enemy

    “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet; / So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d” (Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, 2.2).

    In the world of project management, naming conventions are often the source of miscommunication. You have to call your work something, but if you assume everyone interprets a name the way you intended, you’re likely to stub your toe during the course of the project. As managers, minimizing risk and setting expectations is an everyday task, yet something as simple as a name or label can fly under our radar. We live and breathe our work, and we are passionate about it. It’s a good practice to never assume labels are understood out of the gate. Here’s a few tactics to help you make naming conventions work for you.

  3. Creating Things Just for Fun

    It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of researching and strategizing wonderfully thought out websites. Sometimes, it’s nice to cut loose and create things just for fun, away from the computer screen. Thus, our monthly Happy Cog Handcrafted Challenge (HCHC) was born.

    February was its inaugural month, and I led the effort. I wanted to take things back to elementary school and do an anonymous valentine exchange (though, I used the term “valentine” loosely—really just any card stuffed in an envelope would do).

  4. 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.

  5. Doing It Our Way

    11/21/13

    by Greg Hoy

    0 Responses

    Ever since Jeffrey Zeldman founded Happy Cog in 1999, educating our industry has been a cornerstone of the company. Taking Your Talent to the Web, Designing With Web Standards, and A List Apart started this heritage, and over the years, Jeffrey has continued it with An Event Apart and the A Book Apart series. Happy Cog practitioners have built upon this foundation by teaching, speaking, and writing about web design.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. MegaDesk Today. MegaHotDesk Tomorrow.

    6/27/13

    by Katie High

    0 Responses

    Assuming you’re at work, it’s very likely you spend more time at the very desk you’re sitting at right now than you do anywhere else. However, if your employer has followed some of the latest trends in office design, you may have more opportunities to break free from that chair. As we in our Philadelphia office prepare to move to a new work space, I can’t help but wonder what the effects will be on the projects I manage.

    Even before I joined Happy Cog, I heard rumors of the “MegaDesk.” Visitors all seem to share that “whoa” expression when they first encounter our setup. It’s one 1500 sq. ft. room full of a long, single dual-sided desk (and a little brother version on the opposite wall we call “Lonely Island.”) We fit 20 people in this space. Our CEO Greg Hoy describes its origin:

  9. Better Stakeholder Interviews

    Remember the childhood game of “Telephone”? One person whispers a message into the ear of their friend, and that action is repeated until everyone in attendance has heard and relayed the statement. The last person blurts out to the group what they heard, and, usually, laughter ensues.

    Everyone understands why this happens. Translation and less-than-pristine reinterpretation damage the fidelity of the message. There is no copy-and-paste equivalent for verbal storytelling. A photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of an image will always render that image indistinguishable from the original.

  10. Walkie Talkie

    “Pick up the phone!” That is my phrase of choice when I hear about a co-workers’ failed attempts to communicate through every means except calling those they are trying to reach.

  11. Making Front-end Development a Team Sport

    “All code in any code-base should look like a single person typed it, no matter how many people contributed,” is one of the many ideas behind documents such as Rick Waldon’s Idiomatic JS and Nicolas Gallagher’s Idiomatic CSS.

  12. Good work isn’t enough.

    When I was a young designer, I always asked other people how they got noticed for their work. The answer I most consistently received was “do good work.” Now, when people ask me the same question, I respond with the same answer. Good work always speaks for itself. It’s a self-promoting robot.

  13. Re-cognition

    As we near the end of December, it’s pretty natural to begin to reflect on the past year. Cognition is the place where we share new processes and create a dialogue around new ideas. In the spirit of reflection and end-of-year lists, here are the top five trafficked Cognition posts of 2012 and some parting thoughts from an alternate point of view.

  14. It’s Tech

    7/12/12

    by Mark Huot

    2 Responses

    If you’ve worked in the theater, you’re probably familiar with the term “tech week.” It’s that magical time when an entire production comes together in a matter of days. It’s a whirlwind week that culminates in a big opening night performance.

  15. Before You Hit Send: A Few Honest Tips for Job Seeking Designers

    Hiring a new designer is exciting. The hiring process is not. As someone who has recently been on the receving end of hundreds of applications, I’m noticing a few alarming trends. New graduate or seasoned veteran, it doesn’t seem to matter.

  16. Always

    For this week’s installment of Cognition, I thought I’d share some random thoughts as the president of a small company. Some I heed, some I need to heed.

  17. On-Site Anthropology

    At Happy Cog, we try to use the latest web technologies to bring our virtual teams (and families) together. But sometimes, a virtual meetup just won’t do—most notably, the kickoff meeting to start a new client project. Few things can impact a project’s success like the team building that takes place during the workshop sessions, lunches, and post-meeting drinks of a client on-site visit—after all, raising a virtual toast isn’t nearly as satisfying as clinking two glasses together.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Dear Branding Agencies,

    You’ve crafted the “big picture” view. The client loves the new branding direction; they can practically smell the future you’ve unveiled for them. Now it’s time to get to work. That means you likely have a bazillion different projects in play to bring this new brand to life: identity packages, brochures of all shapes and sizes, tickets, annual reports, bus wraps, on-site signage, and, yes, the website.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. Holiday Gifts For the Young Web Designer Who Doesn’t Have It All

    The field of web and application design is deep into a fantastic and complex evolutionary stage. Browsers have adopted more support than ever for the same standards, yet the bleeding edges of those standards are constantly staining our screens with new approaches to the ways we interact with information. Platforms, frameworks, methods, and opinions about them are myriad. It can all be a little intimidating for someone just getting off of the school bus.

  25. 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.

  26. Sweet Systems

    To most, it’s just the sugary centerpiece to a child’s birthday party—but to me, the Cupcake Cake is systematic genius. A balance of consistency and variety, each cupcake is decorated with the same delicate piping technique, from a carefully selected color palette, with no drop of icing wasted. The result is surprising, delightful, and the highlight of the party.

  27. 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.

  28. Suit Illo by Yesenia Perez-Cruz

    The Cult of Personalities

    In a service industry like ours, we work with a lot of people. Certain people bring out the best in us; others, not so much. Consider your last difficult workplace exchange. How would that encounter have been different if you had a better sense of your own personality? What if you understood the person you shared the encounter with better?