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Rebuilding In Public

11-16-12 Ben Callahan

We’re rebuilding the Sparkbox website in public. It’s sort of like those nightmares you’ve had of showing up to High School naked—only real. Are we crazy?

Recently, I’ve found myself in conversations where I was being asked to explain the Build Responsively workshops that Sparkbox has put on this year. Inevitably, after talking someone through the workshop content and how it relates to our work at Sparkbox, I get something like this in response:

“So, you teach your competitors what you do?”

Hmm—yeah, I guess that’s what we do.

Oddly enough, I’ve never really thought of it that way. There are so many organizations out there that need talented, honest web workers that I’ve never really labeled any of you (whoever is reading this) a “competitor.” There’s plenty of need out there to go around.

I learn more from speaking (and preparing to speak) than I ever did just sitting and working on the same kinds of projects every day. Not to mention, getting to meet other like-minded geeks is incredibly inspiring.

It is with this same sentiment that I’m so proud to announce that we’re beginning a redesign of the Sparkbox site, and we’re going to do it publicly. 

Our Site Rebuild

We’ve felt for a long time now that our current site has needed a lot of work. I won’t lie; we were really just experimenting with responsive techniques when we built it, and there are quite a few real problems with how it’s built. One issue is that it’s not actually responsive—we’re not using a truly flexible foundation. Another serious problem is the usability of certain sections, The Foundry in particular. In addition to all of that, we’re using a large-resolution-first CSS structure, our media queries are in pixels, we didn’t consider performance as critically as we should have, and...well, you get the idea.

Over the next few months, you’re invited to look over our shoulders at as we publish our various deliverables for all to see. In fact, I’d love for you to provide feedback when appropriate. I’m certainly not naive enough to think we have this all figured out. The Github repo will be public, and we’ll do our best to document our process in the Foundry as we work.

Parting Thought

I’m hoping that our opening up of work progress will set the stage for our site to be an ongoing playground. The web and the way we build is changing every day, and we need a place to experiment. If you’re a client, rest assured that we don’t use new techniques until we trust that they work well in production. There’s no better Kool-aid to drink than your own.

The web is open. I’m hoping that taking this step will help us push the web forward as we explore some new ways of building. We are looking forward to your participation, should you chose to offer it!

See the new site in progress at:

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