29 May 15 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from May 2015

In May, we August folk have been reading articles that get us thinking and keep us knowledgeable. So we have a bumper Super8 for you this month. Eight great reads plus a few extras we couldn’t help sneaking in.

1. Marketing crack: kicking the habit.


If you believe Martin Wiegel – and he puts forth a compelling argument in this article – then marketers need to stop chasing short-term campaigns, metrics and results. Instead, they should focus on the longer-term health of their business. As Weigel puts it:

“Under pressure to account for our activities … we seize on intermediate metrics such as likes, views, tweets, shares and so on, like crazed junkies desperate for the next fix.”

It’s something we’ve been talking about a lot here at August. Under the banner of Managed Services, we’ve been discussing, analysing and trying to answer how we can guide our clients to take the long view. To think beyond campaigns and build as Weigel says “long-term sustainable futures around the needs of the customer”.

‘Marketing crack’ is a lengthy article, but it’s packed with relevant examples, detailed tips and insightful quotes from everyone from CEOs to football managers (that’s real football by the way). Avoid the quick fix and read it word for word. Your reward is better insight and a deeper understanding of why things need to change.


2. UX is UI.

design + development

In this 10-minute read, Mike Atherton raises some salient points. He describes the many conflicting ideas and misunderstandings surrounding user experience (UX) design and its sibling UI (user interface).

They are, he argues, essentially one and the same. “Explicitly or implicitly, the user interface is the interface between the customer and the business. So UX design is UI design; we’re building all the enabling means by which the business and customer connect. We’re relationship engineers.”

While I don’t believe it was Atherton’s intention, my take is that, in many ways, this article is a position description of sort: the article is redefining what it means to be a UX/UI designer. It’s stating what the role could become. An interesting read on the challenges the present UX designer face and their potential future value to an organisation.


3. Failure is not good. Here’s why.


According to James Altucher:

“Lately, we’ve been living in the Golden Age of Failure Porn.”

Altucher’s argument is semantic (failure goes by many names), but I’m glad he said it. Someone had to, and he is better-equipped than most having ‘failed’ many times in the past.

In fact, he has turned his ‘failure’ into something of an industry, and now makes a part of his living writing and talking about it.

If you agree with his point of view, then it’s better, Altucher says, to look to failure’s cousins: curiosity, experimentation, persistence, forgiveness. Altucher gives examples and tips to redefine our thinking and shift our focus to what’s important.

He ends on a somewhat poignant note – his first-hand experience of what he believes is real failure. I won’t give away the ending, but if you, like me are starting to tire of ‘failure porn’ then this article offers refreshing perspective.


4. Why ‘mobile first’ may already be outdated.


The message of this article is simple: think screens, not devices. “For a number of years,” Paul Adams argues, “we’ve been hit over the head time and time again with ‘mobile first’ and ‘mobile only’.”

Sure, we all spend a lot of time staring at our smartphones, but think about where you spend the most time. Chances are it’s in front of a large screen – your desktop computer during the day, your TV in the evening.

The point for designers, developers and clients alike isn’t to forsake one screen for the other. Adams proffers the idea that the term ‘mobile’ is not about the device. Rather it’s about being able to access, consume and publish information wherever you are, using the screen that suits your needs. And that’s true if you’re a mobile-driven business or not.


5. There is no fold.


The title of this article says it all: There is no fold. And Luke Wroblewski uses plenty of references and examples in his article to back up why.

The concept of the fold is something we come up against time and time again at August when designing for our clients. Why? Because many people still believe that content viewed in the top half of a screen is more likely to ‘stick’ with their audience.

This article discounts that view. We’ve become conditioned to scrolling, just as we have other web conventions (such as identifying links, for example). The key takeaway for me was putting the call to action where people become convinced to act – and that’s not necessarily above the fold.

[For balance, if you’re interested in the alternate view, Wroblewski links to the article Scrolling and Attention by Jakob Nielsen. It’s also worth a read.]


6. The importance of keeping a notebook.


Do you keep a notebook or journal? I don’t, and haven’t since my teens when I filled volumes with angst-ridden, embarrassing bombast.

But I’ve read a few articles recently just like this one by Margarita Tartakovksy. Twenty years later, I’m starting to come around. Taking dedicated notes and recording details might again be a good thing.

Tartakovksy discusses the benefits of keeping a notebook. In making her point, she quotes Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” An interesting article providing food for thought.


7. How using Periscope got my PGA Tour Media Credential Revoked.

social media

I hate golf (please don’t ask me why). But that didn’t stop me from enjoying this article. It just goes to show that receiving article recommendations from people you rate (thanks Vivi Chau) can enlighten you on a topic you may not have been exposed to otherwise.

Stephanie Wei knew she was pushing the envelope when she used Periscope, the Twitter-owned, live-streaming video app, at the PGA Tour. But I don’t think she expected Tour organisers to revoke her media pass. She was, after all, simply giving her audience the coverage they wanted, offering them a different perspective from that of the mainstream media.

What this article highlights to me is the murky waters of intellectual property, content ownership and on-demand social media. This is at a time when technology is charging forward, and the establishment is playing catch up.

That said, I can see both sides of the story: Stephanie’s amazement at having her media pass revoked and the Tour’s swift response. Who do you agree with?


8. We’re all using these emoji wrong.


There’s a whole world of emoji out there that I never knew existed, and if I did, I’d probably use them wrong. My go-to emoji – those cute little icons we use to express an idea or emotion – is colon and a round parenthesis : ). Pretty boring, granted, but it expresses my point.

This is an interesting article because it talks about something we all use but don’t think much about. It highlights how design is objective but also how design languages – even emoji – continue to evolve. As Logan states:

“Through our misuse, misinterpretation, and subsequent re-imagining of these emoji, we subvert the apparently universal glyph system and push the development of this pictorial language forward, stretching its bounds and testing its limitations.”

Read it to find out why the folks at Unicode want to make changes to ‘Frowning Face with Open Mouth’, ‘Face with Look of Triumph’ and ‘Weary Cat Face’ and what these emoji really stand for. The answer might surprise you.


And a few more…

Silence is a Noxious Gas by Gregory Ciotti

    • A great reminder on the importance of communicating and how to communicate well.

Don’t Let Emotions Screw Up Your Decisions by Francesca Gino

    • An interesting article on why you shouldn’t let the little things (like bitter coffee or bad traffic) influence your day or your decisions.

Obvious Always Wins by Luke Wroblewski

    • While this article is targeted towards mobile apps, the same holds true for websites: if you don’t want people to act and not think, then be obvious.

Transforms on SVG Elements by Ana Tudor

  • A practical how to with images and examples on SVG elements and how they can be manipulated using transform functions.


We hope you enjoyed this month’s Super8. Already looking forward to June? Sign up at the bottom of this page to receive future editions directly in your inbox.