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Bearded.com Redesigned!

The new Bearded website is up! It’s a jaunty little two-pager – and a primarily static site, at that (not a standard approach for us). The whole thing was conceived of, written, designed, built, and tested in three weeks, during a pause in a couple of our client work obligations.

So why the rush? The new site is the absolute minimum viable product for Bearded, and the choice to do our site this way stands in stark contrast to the ambitious, comparatively large-scale new site we’d been chipping away at since late 2013.

Problem is, we came to realize that the big site we’d been so invested in no longer represented what Bearded does. We’d changed. Rather than focusing on full-stack, backend-heavy, soup to nuts projects, we’ve honed our focus to what we’re best at: strategy, design, front-end development, and training. More often than not these days, we’re collaborating with in-house teams at larger organizations, helping them with what we’re best at, and allowing them to do the parts they’re best at, too. This arrangement makes total sense for a group of our size, and we’ve been embracing it whole-heartedly.

Rather than trying to slowly steer our large, 80%-finished ship to different waters – we tossed it aside and built something small and light that does exactly what we need. It was a tough decision to make, but we couldn’t be happier with the results. As we have time, we’ll likely add more features and information. But for now it gets the message right, which is a pretty great start.

I’m constantly reminded of a Hemingway quote that came to me via Hillman Curtis’ book MTIV: “take out the good parts, and see if it still works.” If you like something too much to throw it away when it’s outlived its use, that’s a problem. No matter how enamored we might be with an idea, or a feature, or an implementation (or a whole site!), it’s good to step back occasionally and see if it still makes sense. And if not – to act. We did, and this is the result. Hope you like it! 

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Bearded founder Matt Griffin will be speaking at the Digital PM Summit in Austin, Texas about client relationships and responsive web design process in October.

Everyone knows that the multi-device landscape and responsive design have made everything more complex. In his keynote, Matt Griffin will explore in detail the deliverables and techniques Bearded employs to get clients involved in our projects in positive ways right for the beginning, and keep projects running smoothly to the end.

Go get your tickets now before they’re all gone!

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What Comes Next Is the Future

This may sound crazy, folks, but we’re making a documentary film about the web!

For the last year I’ve been carting a DSLR video camera with me around the country to web design conferences, making occasional stops in between destinations where peers in our industry reside. The whole time I’ve been recording interviews with these folks. I asked them questions I wanted to know the answers to about the web, how they arrived at their careers, and what they see happening next.

We’ve already interviewed:

We’ve also got the thumbs up from a number of people we’d like to interview next (with doubtless even more to come). Here’s a short list of some of our additional heroes who have agreed to be interviewed so far:

We’ve taken things about as far as we can under our own power, so now we’re turning to Kickstarter for funding. Take a look at the trailer on our Kickstarter page, or look at the wicked website Matt Braun put together.

You can help us by backing the project and spreading the word on your favorite social networks and blogs and things. 

Don’t you think the web deserves a great movie? We do! So let’s do this thing, people.

– MG

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Five Years, Bearded

Yesterday Bearded turned five years old. That statement alone just about blows my mind. But more than simply longevity, the current team is fantastic. My fellow Beardeds are smart, talented, highly-skilled web nerds that I not only respect, but look up to. Plus, you know … they’re my best friends. Lucky? Yes, indeed.

So what did 2013 mean to Bearded? Let’s take a look.

This year has brought incredible (and humbling) speaking opportunities to me and the crew. We spoke at great industry events like Artifact, Breaking Development, Converge, Web Design Day, and more. Getting to share our ideas with our peers face-to-face – and getting their feedback – has been fantastic. Not only that, but I’ve been able to meet many of my web heroes in the process – talented, generous people who I now have the privilege of calling my friends.

I started writing for A List Apart in 2012, but in 2013 it’s really kicked up a notch. In fact, I’ve recently agreed to begin writing my own column there, called Matt Griffin on How We Work. Flattered? Yes. In disbelief? Also that, too, yes. Like many of us, I’ve been reading ALA since I don’t even know when. Having those folks encourage my writing and welcome me into the fold has been unexpected, thrilling, and honestly a bit surreal.

And because clearly we didn’t have enough going on in 2013, we’ve started making a documentary about the multi-device web. So far we’ve interviewed a bunch of folks for it, including Ethan Marcotte, Luke Wroblewski, Stephen Hay, Sara Wachter-Boettcher, Josh Clark, Jenn Lukas, Greg Hoy, Jennifer Robbins, Val and Jason Head, Jason Grigsby, Stephanie Hay, Kevin Hoffman, and Ben Callahan – with even more to come. The experience of recording the ideas of all these super smart people in our industry has been profound. Humbled again!

But wait – there’s more! At the beginning of this year, we made the decision to focus on our business more. In the past our approach was simple: do good work for great clients, and hope the finances work themselves out. In our first years, I think this was the right approach. It kept us focused on what’s most important: the work and the people. But over time, and especially as we grew, it became clear that the business side of things needed some attention, too.

We work on the internet. And the internet is in constant flux. We’re always willing to change our working processes, techniques and technologies when it seems warranted. We aim to fall forward, and iterate our way to better and better products. So why not apply that iterative creative thinking to our business processes, as well? This year we looked at people’s motivations, at our values, and of course at the data. Then we made (sometimes difficult) changes to how we structure our estimates and invoicing, our contracts, how we manage client relationships – anything that seemed like it could benefit from our attention. For most of Bearded’s existence, it was feast or famine, and we were just scraping by every month. But now Bearded is on solid financial footing for the first time ever, and we did it without compromising our values or mistreating anyone. Feels good man.

What else has 2013 brought to the Beardeds? Well, in a few weeks we’ll gain a full-time content strategist. As far as I’m concerned, designing our content will be a hugely important addition to what we do at Bearded. The clarity it brings to our design and development work is invaluable, and I can’t wait to raise the bar on every project we do.

We’re also moving into a new, larger space in a few months. It’ll be rad, I’m sure – so be on the look out for a belated five-year party there in early 2014.

Is that it? Hardly, but we have to keep some of our secrets, right?

Thanks for hanging in there with us, friends. It’s been a terrific journey, but as I seem to say every year: we’re just getting started. See you on the interwebs!

– MG

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Bearded at Artifact Conf East in November!

Bearded will be at Artifact Conf in force on the East Coast (Providence, RI, to be exact) in November! The first responsive design conference in Austin, Texas was a rousing success, and this time around none other than the legendary Ethan Marcotte has been added to the bill, along with other RWD giants like Brad Frost, Ben Callahan from Sparkbox, Dave Rupert from Paravel, O’Reilly author Jennifer Robins, some of our favorite Happy Cogs, and more! It’s seriously the best damn RWD conference you’ll ever have the chance to be at, so get your butts down to the Artifact site and reserve some tickets before they’re all gone!

Not only that, but Bearded’s own Matt Griffin and Patrick Fulton will be teaching an intro to Sass and Compass 1/2-day workshop after the talks are finished. All of our front-end secrets will be revealed!

The talks are aimed to get web designers up and running with responsive design, regardless of their current skill level, and range in topic about how RWD effects everything we do, including:

  • Design Process
  • Technical Implementation
  • Team Environments
  • Client Interactions
  • Business Concerns

Our workshop will be a deeper dive into Sass and Compass for those who are hungry for it, RWD or not: here’s our description:

Are you still writing plain old vanilla CSS? Well, then your life is about to change, my friend.

Sass is a CSS preprocessor that does everything you ever wanted CSS to do, and then compiles down to regular old CSS for those pesky browsers to consume. Remember how, way back when, linked stylesheets made your life a million times better than using repetitive, inline styles? This is going to feel like that all over again.

In this workshop, Matt Griffin and Patrick Fulton from Bearded will get you up and running using Sass and Compass. We’ll start with the very basics and help you incorporate great Sassy benefits like:

  • Using variables to update color and size values across your whole site in seconds.
  • Creating mixins so you can apply multiple lines of CSS (think: button styles) to elements throughout your project.
  • Mastering the joys and pitfalls of nesting your SCSS so it reflects your markup, without getting carried away.
  • Discovering the wonders of Compass’ built-in mixins, so you never have to think about browser extensions again.
  • Implementing Breakpoint to wrangle your media queries, and provide better fall-backs for old IE.
  • Organizing your files into sensible groups of partials that will be imported into your final master CSS file, to save you and your team headaches later.

So please do join us. By the end of this workshop you’ll be happier, taller, better-looking, and you’ll never ever want to go back to plain old CSS again. Or anyway, at least the first and last ones, we promise!

We’ll see you in Providence!