Published in Super8 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from November.

Today marks the last day of November. Brace yourself, for tomorrow, it begins: the high-intensity joyous festivity of December and the silly season.

To get on the front foot and preemptively align with the holiday spirit, Jon Trumbull’s November edition of Super8 is all about gifts. The gift of inspiration. The gift of knowledge. The gift of creativity. The gift of excellent tech-based stocking stuffers you can get for under $50. It’s all here in Super8 in November. Let’s go!

1. The science behind inspiration and how to design more of it into your life.

By now, we’re likely all aware of the generative power of AI and the ways it enables new forms of connection and expression. We know of the potential implications for productivity, intellectual property, and ethics. Still though, it seems there are ever more applications for AI popping up every single day. Meta has recently announced a series of new AI experiences across its family of apps and devices, including advanced conversational assistants, sophisticated in-app image editing tools, and interactive AI characters voiced by Snoop Dogg, Tom Brady, and Naomi Osaka. As ever with AI, there’s plenty of opportunity and cause for excitement, but as the next article highlights, still many challenges to navigate too.

2. Landing page techniques used by the pros.

  • Watch the video here.
  • Created by: Erik Kennedy.
  • Contributed by: Kurt Smith.

By definition and design function, the very best landing pages are singular in focus. A good landing page is extensively optimised to encourage one exclusive outcome: a donation, a sign up, a purchase, a trial, an enquiry, or anything else you hope to achieve. But while the output is singularly focussed, there are many questions that can inform your approach to designing and creating landing pages. Where should you begin? How collaborative can the process be? How do you solve the age-old conundrum of the interplay between content and design? What are the common signifiers of effective landing pages? If you’re looking for an expert perspective on these questions and more, this video is for you.

3. 12 questions for life.

Celebrated novelist David Foster Wallace once wrote that ‘everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.’ In this self-described ‘mini-book’, Maximilian Kiener invites you to question this idea, along with several other thought-provoking prompts to unpack ‘the great coincidence of how you became you, and who that is’. With fascinating facts about the world, charming animations, and some interesting data visualisation, it’s perfectly suited to your next coffee break.

4. Zoom fatigue is real, according to brain scans.

Well, there’s research to prove it. If it feels like your brain needs some recuperating ‘zzz’ after multiple Zooms, that’s because it does: a recent study has found that virtual meetings exhaust the brain more than face-to-face communication. While previous research depended on questionnaires, the new study examined the effects of extensive videoconferencing directly on the brain and the heart. According to the study, individuals grapple with ‘increased stress levels, a reduction in productivity, and a pervasive sense of disconnection’. So, next time you’re arranging a meeting, consider inviting the attendees to convene in person. The science suggests your brain will thank you.

5. Start documenting your accessibility, Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout.

Nope, the intriguing second half of the title isn’t some kind of expanded acronym or pneumonic device. In this podcast, three presenters discuss different types of accessibility documentation that websites and applications might use—from general accessibility statements to Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs)—while trying out a range of interesting craft beverages. It’s full of good banter and fascinating insights. For example, it sounds contradictory, but what is the potential benefit of highlighting where a product does not meet accessibility guidelines? You’ll have to tune in to find out.

6. Data attributes as state.

From belching beavers to discussing data attributes. This piece highlights some of the shortfalls of using classes to store the state of an element and why using data attributes can be a more robust and cleaner method. With the right approach, using data attributes to represent state in HTML is more flexible and scalable than using classes. It encourages developers to be more explicit and more debuggable, and is a worthwhile option for your next project.

7. Using CSS content-visibility to boost your rendering performance.

By now, we’re all likely up to speed on the importance of, well, speed. Website performance is crucially important for many reasons. It’s key to UX, important for search engine optimisation, contributes to improved conversion, and has all sorts of other tangible contributions to genuine business metrics. Content-visibility is a CSS property that controls whether or not an element renders its contents. It enables the browser to bypass layout and rendering work for elements not immediately needed by a user, which can make the initial page load faster. This article highlights the benefits and practical applications of this approach, including when it may not be the most suitable option.

8. The best tech gifts under $50 to consider in 2023.

‘Tech the halls’ this Christmas. If, like many shopping centres and malls all around the world, you’re already in full swing for the festive season, this guide may come in handy and help you spread Christmas cheer on a budget. Perfect for office gifts and stocking stuffers, the list includes a selection of budget-friendly gift ideas ranging from Bluetooth trackers and wireless earbuds to smart home accessories. Alternatively, have a look and take the last opportunity to treat yourself to some new tech before the holiday season officially kicks off.