New Project Rule

When you are working on bigger projects, you may get a dedicate budget to do thorough in–depth research and test new concepts. With smaller projects and limited budget you have to compensate for the lack of time to research with your past experiences.

Smaller projects on the other hand are great to optimise your workflow and try to implement fresh ideas that won’t impact your project in the same way as large–scale projects, but it might give them added benefit.

It’s Actually “Learn Something New Rule”

I practice, what I call “New project rule”. For each new project I start, I try to implement a new concept (big or small, depending on the available time) that will improve the project and my personal experience with it. Usually you don’t need too much time to try out things on smaller projects and even if something goes wrong during the process, you can fallback to your original, tested practice.Underlying theme here is to iterate with small things where you feel safe.

That’s how I implemented several changes into our company’s workflow, starting small but eventually finding way to our bigger projects. Some are:

  • Feature detection with Modernizr—just build your own script and you are ready to go. Detecting touch screens, SVGs and other HTML5/CSS3 properties was never easier. I implemented it more than two years ago and it eventually enabled us to painlessly integrate SVGs for important visual assets into our process, optimise touch UIs and more.
  • Icon fonts, really easy to implement but requires extensive testing (or at least reading about it). If you create your own icons like I do, then it might get a little complicated at start, but practise makes perfect. Although they work good for now, I’m still exploring new options like SVG icons with PNG fallbacks. Maybe on my next project.
  • Responsive images are hard, but with tools like Picturefill all you need is one afternoon of reading and playing with code to setup your workflow.
  • Transition from LESS to SASS, was an exciting one. I was quite comfortable with LESS, but nevertheless I decided to try out SASS/SCSS with Bourbon mixin library. It required a few projects to fine tune it to our liking but in the end there were multiple benefits over LESS in our case.

You don’t need to do big changes in the core of your project, do something small if time is limited, but make it a part of your routine. Maybe you can:

  • Create a custom marker on your maps.
  • Optimize your images with TinyPNG and speed up your website (there is a Photoshop plugin as well)
  • Make sure that main interface icons are pixel perfect and crisp.
  • Create a Favicon.

Your next project might be a perfect chance to try out a new concept: jQuery plugin, SVGs, icon fonts or just to better document your code and better organise your PSDs. Think about it and try something new on your next project.