28 April 17 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from April.

We are all storytellers. ‘Stories’ may have become a must-have tool for social media giants—but I’m talking about the real kind. We share our stories through platforms, sound, and snippets of 140 characters. They occur simultaneously, broadcast by millions, to convey everyday thoughts and feelings alongside epic global news. It’s a fascinating blend.

This month, I’m taking you through an equally intriguing blend of tales for Super8 in April. Take a moment to soak up another exciting edition featuring typographic conundrums, Adidas’ secret weapon, and some insights into why words are the new pixels.

1. How we can find ourselves in data.

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  • Watch the video here.
  • Written by Giorgia Lupi.  
  • Contributor: Athalia Foo.  

Data is a tool we can use to represent reality. It’s a building block to craft understanding and shape a certain narrative. In this TEDTalk, Giorgia Lupi uses data to tell human stories, adding nuance to the numbers. She challenges the impersonality of data and argues that we should translate our figures into something more meaningful.

Covering elections, outer space and international pen pals, learn the value of connecting data to our daily lives.

2. How Google and Adobe solved a decades-old typographic conundrum.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Mark Wilson.  
  • Contributor: Emily Duckham.

A typeface can capture attention, elicit emotions and engage people. But what happens when language cannot be conveyed through a single font? This article by Mark Wildon shares the journey of Google and Adobe as they design a font that ‘unites all languages on Earth’.

Their typeface allows communication between languages using a range of fluid characters. Beat the typographic conundrum—learn to tell a universal story across glyphs, web browsers and cultures.

3. Words are the new pixels: why designers must become storytellers.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Jason Amunwa.  
  • Contributor: Rowan Barnes.  

In this article, Jason Amunwa predicts the end of screens. You may be reading this text on a screen right now, but in a few years, you might be listening to it instead. Voice-first tech is evolving, and designers need to consider non-visual UI. Great visual design is not a novelty for successful brands—it’s a given.

Humans have been communicating with words for about 70,000 years. We all know how to use them and interpret them, and I’d argue that words are the only truly responsive UI element for all computing devices, past, present and future.

To ride the new wave of ‘invisible computing’, designers should pair pixels with quills and convey visual stories with words.

4. Will London fall?

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Sarah Lyall. 
  • Contributor: Steph Little.  

It’s 2017; we read up on world-changing events in bite-sized tweets, while scrolling through Instragram. Here’s a chance to take the scenic route. Sarah Lyall’s ‘Will London fall?’ is a cinematic journey through the streets of London post ‘Brexit’ referendum.

The thought is that being connected to the rest of the world is something to celebrate. But what happens to London when that idea unexpectedly falls away?

With immersive visuals and text, the piece conveys stories from both sides of the fence. But Sarah doesn’t make her readers choose and, much like the future, the ending is up to us to decide.

5. Are personas ruining your product?

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Chris Thelwell.  
  • Contributor: John Broadfoot.

Personas are the protagonists of a brand, product or story. They’re the fictional characters that can influence your approach, processes and user experience. In this article, Chris Thelwell tells a cautionary tale—personas are often made-up and unreliable.

Real users are complex. Some will use your product, others will not—none of them are the ‘ideal’ persona that will champion your brand. Challenge your assumptions and explore the value of talking to real users.

6. Adidas’ secret weapon in the sneaker wars.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Mark Wilson.  
  • Contributor: Mark Davis. 

Adidas has a secret weapon. Despite previous slumps in sales, they have managed to convey a narrative synonymous with success. The power of celebrity can be a successful plot device—and Adidas use it well. Mark Wilson’s article opens with a moment: Kanye West’s silhouette emerging from flames, clad in a pair of white Adidas Ultra Boosts.

These celebrity collaborations represent a bold departure for the company, which is now treating shoes as fast fashion: stylish, responsive to trends, and engineered to hit the market quickly.

Looking back, this moment feels as momentous as Michael Jordan’s free throw dunk for Nike in 1988. The lesson? Expand your cast of characters: Adidas swaps athletes for style icons, driving runaway sales and loyal fans to boot.

7. Like Twitter but hate the trolls? Try Mastodon.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Margaret Rhodes. 
  • Contributor: David Baddock.  

Twitter is a world full of user-generated stories. The variety of authors is extensive, but they’ve got one thing in common: users are sick of trolls. The anonymous, hostile egg accounts of Twitter create a poor user experience for many.

Margaret Rhodes introduces Mastodon, a self-regulating platform that flips convention on its head—users moderate users. Will this platform serve as an echo chamber to reinforce bias, or will it allow diverse communities to share stories in a safe space? Join us in tracking this early experiment to learn more.

8. Creating usability with motion: The UX in Motion Manifesto.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Issara Willenskomer.  
  • Contributor: Kurt Smith.

Good storytelling is accessible. It’s not high-brow or overly academic—simplicity is part of the appeal. The UX manifesto by Issara Willenskomer explores how the use of simple, considered motion can increase usability. Some animation adds a glossy veneer without any real value for end-users.

Animation is all about tools. Principles are the practical application of ideas that guide the usage of tools and as such, principles provide high leverage opportunities for designers.

Apply these principles of motion to guide people effectively through an experience, via the four elements of expectation, continuity, narrative and relationship.