30 June 15 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from June 2015.

It’s been a big month of learning for us. This month’s Super8 is jam-packed full of our recommendations on better productivity, business, marketing and technical know-how. We hope you find something useful, too.

1. Code Genius – 5 minute physics.

web design

Kicking off June Super8 is a video on how you can apply basic physics to your JavaScript animations so they feel more realistic.

David DeSandro explains that when people interact with digital touchscreens, they generally use their hands. And in doing so, there is a level of expectation of how objects should behave. There are standard conventions that we are accustomed to.

David gives us a crash course in physics. He describes how things like friction and motion conservation can be mimicked using JavaScript animation to simulate real world physics. These types of physics are quite common on iPhone scrolling and ecommerce carousels.

There is some coding in the video, but you don’t need to be a coder to understand the basic concepts.

2. Those who can’t teach.

management

A great article that highlights the importance of having employees that teach in the workplace.

Gregory Ciotti explains that the benefits of having great teachers far outweighs the cost in time. These benefits include improved employee performance, reduced employee turnover and increased levels of knowledge.

Gregory also tells us how teaching can be done at every level and shouldn’t be left to a manager. Sometimes the best way to learn is from your peers.

I chose this article because here at August, learning and sharing knowledge is something we value. And I think many companies would benefit from having the same approach.

3. The psychology behind web browsing.

design + development

Have you ever been frustrated when a pop-up ad takes over your screen shortly after landing on a website? This article explores the psychology behind why we react the way we do when we encounter unexpected interruptions to our web browsing experience.

Liraz Margalit explains that as humans, we naturally crave control. She discusses the psychological effect called the “expectation factor”. This is where we do certain activities and expect a certain type of experience. If this experience is interrupted or greatly differs from what we expected, then this results in stress and adverse behaviour.

Fox example, Liraz tells us about a time when a news organisation she worked for had a video automatically play on their homepage. It resulted in a decreased chance of people watching the video because visitors tended to click the pause button.

Liraz then describes how we can use “perceived control” in our web experiences to help manage user expectations and still achieve the same goals. This article resonated with a lot of us at August and is well worth a read.

4. Why your brain wants to check Facebook every 31 seconds – and how you can stop it.

productivity

Michael Hollauf explains how our tendency to get carried away checking Facebook and other social media contributes to “task switching and multitasking behaviour”. And yet, we continue this behaviour knowing that there are other priorities, such as a project deadline, a university assignment or a chore you just need to get done.

Earlier research suggested students estimated they concentrated on their work five minutes at a time. Recent studies conducted on university students showed that, on average, students concentrated on a task for around 31 seconds at a time.

It’s a great article because Michael also offers some interesting and useful tips on how to help combat these tendencies and improve your productivity.

5. Corporate alliances matter less thanks to APIs.

technology

Traditionally, businesses would spend time and resources finding business partners. This was to better service their customers and grow the company.

Bala and Mohan discuss how businesses are now using Application Program Interfaces (APIs) to form much more effective alliances and partnerships. It’s done through improved scalability of operations, flexibility in acquiring partners and fluidity in business goals.

By using ‘opened API platforms’ companies can now attract partners in a highly automated way.

It depends on the type of business you’re in, but I think APIs can help companies grow. The catch? In adopting this technology, you need to rethink how you build partnerships.

6. The fallacy that the next new feature will suddenly make people use your product.

apps

In this article, Andrew Chen talks about the challenges of focusing on improving a product to drive more engagement after a failed product launch. He also touches on the concept of the “engagement wall” – the challenge of on-boarding new users to commit to using your product.

A common problem company’s face is retention. After initially attracting people to use their product, they often experience a drop off after the first month.

The problem with trying to improve a product after a launch is that there are not enough people using the product. Having new features won’t change this. Instead, Andrew suggests that companies focus on creating features that are targeted at casual or non-users.

7. Can you rank in Google without links? New data says slim chance.

growth

If you’ve ever worked in SEO, you’ll already know how difficult it is to rank a website without links. If you haven’t worked in SEO, or don’t know too much about it, this article is a must-read for you. It’s important to understand why a continued growth plan for your business can help your website’s organic search visibility.

Cyrus Shepard examines a study that found that 99.2% of all the websites ranking for competitive keywords had at least one external link. He describes some cases where a page could rank without links, but these would either be for very strong domains with good internal linking, such as a news website. Or it may be for low competition keywords that no one is searching for, or your company brand name.

That isn’t to say that you should go out and start building thousands of spammy links to your website. Google is pretty good at identifying the good links from the bad. And you’ll be penalised for the bad links.

What’s important is that you have a growth strategy that allows you to earn links to grow your brand naturally.

8. This robot can 3-D print a steel bridge in mid-air.

innovation

We’ve saved the best for last… Are you ready?

“Imagine some day in the future, just going somewhere, dropping off a robot, and coming back two months later to have this huge piece of infrastructure there, without any human intervention at all!”

Joris Laarman, a Dutch designer, has created a 3D-printing robot that will build a bridge in the Netherlands in public view. How awesome is that!

He has teamed up with Autodesk, leaders in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, and some of the best bridge engineering companies in the industry.

Construction begins in 2017, but until then there are many technical challenges to overcome.

This project is such a great example of innovation. I think it’s important that we all think outside the box once in a while and push the boundaries of what we are comfortable with.

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That wraps up this month’s Super8. If you read an article this month that you’re busting at the seams to share, pop it in the comments below.

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