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Category → Design Decisions

How the new Chrome Web Store increased signups to Handcraft by 1000%

Last week’s release of a renewed Chrome Web Store by Google increased signups to Handcraft by 1000%. What happened?

A list of apps in the Chrome Web Store

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Handcraft gets Zen Coding

If you’re not familiar with Zen Coding, here’s a brief description taken from its homepage:

Zen Coding is an editor plugin for high-speed [HTML] coding and editing. The core of this plugin is a powerful abbreviation engine which allows you to expand expressions—similar to CSS selectors—into HTML code. For example:


…can be expanded into:

<div id="page">
        <div class="logo"></div>
        <ul id="navigation">
                <li><a href=""></a></li>
                <li><a href=""></a></li>
                <li><a href=""></a></li>
                <li><a href=""></a></li>
                <li><a href=""></a></li>

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Designing in the open with Handcraft and live.js

37signals’ Ryan Singer writes that designing “in the open” by having many fast iterations and sharing them with others frequently is part of growing up as a designer:

Instead of asking for 10 changes and waiting a week, you can ask for 1 change and wait 15 minutes. Evaluate the change, praise it or identify weaknesses, and suggest the next change. By asking for small changes, you take the pressure off the designer because you aren’t asking for miracles. You also take the pressure off the review process because the set of constraints and motivating concerns is smaller. The design is easier to talk about because there are a fewer factors involved.

Handcraft is great for this because every time you save your work, the live prototype is updated. Combine your prototype with live.js, and whoever’s looking at your prototype will see changes animate in real time. Working with a team or with clients this way can be a real eye-opener because not only does it help communicate your process, it helps them learn how websites are structured: what works, what doesn’t, and how elements flow together.

Try it on your next project. Sign up for a free 30 day trial of Handcraft.

Tweak, don’t pivot

Back in March we wrote a short post called The Influence of Unintended Use, which highlighted our growing concern over how some people were using Handcraft.

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New in Handcraft: better performance, drag & drop file uploads and more

The past few weeks we’ve made a lot of improvements to the underlying architecture running Handcraft, which has led to several speed gains. But that’s not all; we’ve also released a new javascript library, Live.js, introduced drag & drop file uploads in the editor and file management screens, and fixed tons of bugs.

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How we changed our name at the last minute

Quplo is now Handcraft.

That’s a big change. We wanted to share some of the decisions we made to get here and how we’re dealing with the implications. Continue reading →

The Influence of Unintended Use

Let’s say you’ve got a startup. You’re building a service and stick to the plan. But your beta users find your service useful for things you either hadn’t foreseen or didn’t consider core functionality. What do you do? Do you stick to the plan, or adjust? Flickr emerged from an image tool that was orginally built for a massively multiplayer online game called Game Neverending. It’s a success story of adjusting, but does that success story apply to other startups?

We don’t know, but it’s a situation we’re facing and we wanted to share it with you.

A great example of unintended use, courtesy of

A great example of unintended use, courtesy of

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Improving the website production process – Part 1: Exporting to development platforms

If you’re involved in the website production process, chances are your job involves wireframing, visual design, prototyping, development or a combination thereof. More often than not, the process involves designers tossing designs “over the fence” to a development team. Regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, it’s clear that there’s room for improvement.

The website production process.

The website production process.

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Building a promotional site is hard

The quplo homepage For the past few months we’ve been hard at work on the quplo promotional site, which has now launched along with our public beta. The entire process was rather difficult for us as we’ve never written in such detail about one of our products and certainly not with such a promotional, marketing-oriented approach.

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How 37signals does HTML prototyping

No wireframes

A slide from Jason Fried's talk, "Backstage at 37signals"

Last month at UIE’s Web App Masters Tour conference in Philadelphia, Jason Fried gave a talk about 37signals‘ design process. It was a look backstage at a prominent web company and was fascinating because most of his talk went really in-depth in illustrating what a conversation between team members looks like during the design of a new screen or, in this case, redesign of something fundamental. Continue reading →