Information Architecture: A Whole-Team Discipline

Information Architecture has exceptionally broad-reaching consequences. It affects the software we build, the business model behind it, and the way people interact on all sides of a product. No project can afford to leave team members out of the IA circle.

Fortunately, it can be very approachable.
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How to Ace the Non-Technical Part of an Atomic Interview

When we’re hiring at Atomic, we’re obviously looking for people who have maker skills as a software developer or a designer. But that’s just the start. We consider your fit with our company’s consultant culture and values at least as much as your technical skills.

Here are seven things you can do to win our confidence during the interview process.
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Fighting Project Decision Fatigue with Policy

When it comes to matters of policy, our goal at Atomic has always been to provide “just enough” to avoid unexpected conflicts or confusion. We rely strongly on personal responsibility, transparency, and our self-organizing nature to bring order and direction to our projects and internal company workings.

Atoms enjoy the freedom this brings—we share the burden of learning and making things work the way they should without being bound by miles of policy red tape. We have to live out our “Own It” value mantra.

However, there is a potential cost for this freedom: decision fatigue. Read more on Fighting Project Decision Fatigue with Policy…

First Contact to Offer – Atomic’s Developer Interview Process

Much like working with our clients to design and build an application, putting together an interview process involves balancing competing constraints. We want plenty of time to get to know candidates, but keep time investment within reasonable bounds for everyone involved. We set up defined tasks and scenarios but also want to leave room for open-ended conversations and work.

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Improving UI Stability with Ember Data and ArrayProxy

I’ve grown fond of Ember.js over the past two years. In that time it has evolved quite a bit. Recently, HTMLBars and more mature versions of Ember Data have been particularly welcome additions. That forward progress, and varying project needs, mean that I’m still regularly learning more about its quirks, tools, and doing things the “Ember way” (or all three at once). Just a week ago, that was the case while working with Ember Data relationships, an ArrayProxy, and rendering controllers. Read more on Improving UI Stability with Ember Data and ArrayProxy…

Ember Actions by Example

Ember’s actions are a powerful and usually straight-forward mechanism for handling events within an application. However, some cases can be a bit perplexing unless you’ve dealt with them before and wrestled with the details. Here are a few brief points and examples to help clarify Ember’s action bubbling behavior in a few of those less obvious cases.

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Zooming Out

If you spend much time around the offices at Atomic, you’ll eventually hear someone mention the phrase “zooming out” in relation to solving a problem. I’m not 100% certain on the origin of our use of the phrase (we may have picked it up from one of our friends at IDEO or Cooper), but I’ve used it frequently over the past two years. And the more I use it, the broader my definition becomes. It’s just so darn useful. Read more on Zooming Out…

Visualizing Project Scale, Risk, and Options

We discuss scale, risk, and different options with our customers and team members continually throughout the lifetime of a project. Having a visual representation of the conversation points can be very useful.

A well-designed visual makes it easy to identify the highs and lows, draws conversation to the most important points, and helps everyone navigate the problem landscape. It’s hard to replace the way a good visual can connect with visual learners. And, as an added benefit for me, it removes the temptation to just read a slide during a presentation.

A few quick tips before we dig in:

  • Color matters. I like to browse the palettes on COLOURlovers for inspiration.
  • Double-check your numbers. It sucks to realize your visual is wrong in the middle of a presentation.
  • It’s nice if the visual is easy to update to reflect new information. Simple shapes and a straight-forward scale help that a lot.

Below are a few examples we’ve used recently. Read more on Visualizing Project Scale, Risk, and Options…

Worry; Don’t Stress

Carl likes to talk about the worry gene culture at Atomic — our predisposition to turn worries into concrete, positive action. The converse of this behavior, inaction, can quickly lead to unresolved worries piling up. That’s where stress comes in. And despite our predisposition to positive action, we all sometimes need a kickstart in the right direction.

Fortunately, many of our practices at AO already serve to guide us toward the concrete, positive actions we need. And there are other simple things I’ve found that help effectively spur the worry gene into action. Read more on Worry; Don’t Stress…