22 December 17 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from December.

Feast your eyes on this festive selection; it’s an early gift in the form of your holiday reading guide. Santa’s ninth reindeer—Rudolph—pulls together eight eclectic articles we’ve enjoyed throughout the year.

We’ve spent the last 12 months curating the best in tech, content, UX, and design, and cherry picked our favourite highlights for your convenience. Check it all out: from how we can find ourselves in data and conversational UI, to tips on living 24 hours a day.

Merry Christmas from everyone at August, it’s Super8 in December!

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

3

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

There’s no doubt about it, the way we interact with screens is changing. Interactions are no longer constrained by our smartphones, desktops or tablets. With the growing prevalence of voice tech, interactions are invisible—and according to Jason Amunwa, screens are disappearing altogether.

Words are the ideal medium for accommodating this next phase of human-computer interaction. They’re universally used and understood globally, and are easily woven into stories that can fit into any user context.

So, what does this mean for designers? In a world where words are the new pixels, a designer’s responsibility is to guide users through a narrative that helps share experiences, ideas and stories. Learn the importance of compelling structure, the art of persuasive writing and why Lorem Ipsum must die.

2. How to live on 24 hours a day.

Header_5

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by: Shane Parrish.
  • Contributor: Daniel Banik.

We all know the feeling of time passing without ceremony—2017 has flown by. As we hurtle towards a new year, consider a question as old as time itself: how do we make the most of the hours we have?

We have, and have always had, all the time there is.

Powerful words by Arnold Bennett, author of the book this piece is named after. If you’ve read up on how best to manage workflow and processes, take a moment to focus on your mind. In this article, Shane Parrish explains why there is no magic bullet: we must learn to make each minute count.

3. Stealing your way to original designs.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Dan Mall.  
  • Contributor: Melanie Bruning.

Imitation may be the greatest form of flattery, but many designers make it their focus to stay ‘original’. In this article, Dan Mall argues there’s nothing new under the sun, and to combat this idea, designers must perfect the art of stealing.

Whether you’re a recent graduate or just starting out in the industry, don’t resent the grunt work. It’s a simple three step process: imitate, remix, invent. Transform your design game by adding your own flair to the work of the greats.

4. The problem with ‘roadmap first’ teams.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Ariel Verber.  
  • Contributor: John Broadfoot.

Whether your team uses agile, waterfall or another technique to manage workflow, it’s very likely you have a roadmap. Roadmaps have played an integral role in the way we work at August this year, and can be a great tool to understand context and achieve shared understanding.

However, once you have a detailed plan of attack it can be tempting to work hard, rather than taking the time to work effectively. There’s value in taking a pit stop, iterating, improving, and finding new ways to frame your approach, rather than simply rushing towards the finish line.

In a ‘user first team’, the next thing to work on would actually be determined by this question: ‘What can we do next to make the users most satisfied?’. Many times, it is not necessarily to develop something completely new, but actually improving the existing.

5. Why conversational UI? Why now?

header2

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Thoughtworks. 
  • Contributor: Vivi Chau. 

One shift we’ve observed this year is the change from ‘always on’ to ‘always on demand’. We expect answers with immediacy. Whether you’re responding to a read-receipt or typing out a 9pm email, conversational UI delivers—and it’s about to get big.

A conversational user interface is a touchpoint that enables us to use language to interact. That’s it. It’s a text message, it’s talking to the hotel front desk via their app, it’s a group meal ordering chatbot, it’s KLM sending you your boarding pass on Facebook Messenger and switching you out of a middle seat when you ask.

Replicating complex human interactions won’t be easy, but with the growth of Voice and other technologies, we’re getting closer to automated responses, 24/7. Prepare your team for 2018 by getting acquainted with conversational interfaces. It’s about starting small, and moving fast.

6. How we can find ourselves in data.

1

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

If a data-driven approach doesn’t come naturally, consider things through a more human lens: data is a tool we use to represent reality. In this TEDTalk, Giorgia Lupi challenges the ‘impersonality of data’ and argues we should translate figures into something more meaningful.

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

7. You’re already living inside a computer.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Ian Bogost. 
  • Contributor: Mike McCusker.

Is the ‘rise of the machine’ on the horizon, or has it already arrived? Today, there’s not much work or play that computers don’t handle. As computers shift from our offices and homes to pockets, devices and cars, we become accustomed to the feeling of constant connection.

People don’t seek out computers in order to get things done; they do the things that let them use computers.

Explore the paradigm between using computers for efficiency vs. enjoyment with this piece by Ian Bogost.

8. The secret to writing killer product copy.

Header_1

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Dave Gerhardt.  
  • Contributor: Elliott Grigg.

Many marketers are shape shifters, juggling skills in tech, design and data analysis. It’s essential to embrace diverse skills and maintain technical chops, but revisiting the basics can be just as important. As Dave Gerhardt argues, the most underrated skill marketers need is the ability to deliver customer-driven copy.

Whether you are crafting landing page content or simply sending an email, everything you write should communicate value. It’s simple: you don’t need to be a professional writer, you just need to write like a human.