31 October 18 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from October.

Halloween. Sure, it’s supposed to be horrifying, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be edifying. There’s much to learn from monsters.

This month, I’m looking into what Hollywood’s most nightmarish characters can teach us through fangs, claws, chainsaws, and telekinesis.

How can Freddy Krueger teach us to create good content? Why should you write like Michael Myers? What does Jaws have to do with interaction design? Who—or what—is Gwoemul?

Check it all out, and more, in October’s Super8.

1. Poor millenials.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Michael Hobbes.
  • Contributor: Elliott Grigg.

What has an incredibly 80s-heavy aesthetic, embodies the worst nightmares of people on the cusp of adulthood, and artfully treads the line between being flippantly hilarious and genuinely horrifying?

Freddy Krueger from ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, and this piece highlighting the harrowing economic plight of millenials.

It’s an incredible long-form read and an awesome experience in itself.

This is why the touchstone experience of millennials, the thing that truly defines us, is not helicopter parenting or unpaid internships or Pokémon Go. It is uncertainty.

You’ll encounter gorgeous data visualisation, a maze, expanding 8-bit cities, and a giant rocket-launching grandmother. If you only read one interactive article that’s analogous to a dream-stalker with knives for fingers this month, make it this.

2. Content first, design second.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Graeme Fulton. 
  • Contributor: Richie Meldrum.

Words are powerful. The right words can help you plant ideas; they can help you persuade; they can influence perception; and, of course, they can summon a murderous ghoul with a hook for a hand when spoken into the mirror, as in The Candyman from Bernard Rose’s film of the same name.

When you’re designing, words inform the ‘story’ you convey through all of your aesthetic decisions.

Instead of starting with a style guide or a Photoshop mockup, start with words on a page.

Are you creating something that feels luxurious or low-cost? Carefully curated and unique, or sleek and mass produced? Words will tell you. Literally. In fact, the thought of using lorem ipsum alone to inform design is probably the scariest concept in this entire list.

3. Creating meaningful micro-interactions.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Denislav Jeliazkov.
  • Contributor: John Broadfoot.

Jaws—the enormous shark from the classic coastal thriller, ‘Jaws’—represents the high point in ‘terrifying-because-you-never-see-the-monster’ film technique. Jaws is often out of sight, but never out of mind.

You’re conscious of the giant shark’s fleeting presence; so, you become hyper-conscious of its absence. It’s a masterstroke in subtlety. Micro-interactions are the same. They’re little, luxurious touches you may not even notice, but they ultimately make a huge difference to UX.

We as designers need to focus on adding value and meaning to them instead of trickery and gimmicks. Don’t think of the product as it is right now, think of how the users will use it as your product evolves.

So, what makes them good? For starters, like a ravenous blood-thirsty shark, they’re singularly focussed and, therefore, predictable. Check out this gif-stuffed guide for more.

4. The nuance of better.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by David Sherwin.
  • Contributor: Kurt Smith.

Rituals can define character. For example: who sleeps in a coffin, drinks the blood of the innocent to sustain their lifeforce, morphs into a bat, and avoids sunlight? If you said Dracula, ten points to you.

And, if you’re looking to create better products with your team, then make like the Count and embrace the art of the ritual. Specifically, this one.

David Sherwin outlines a simple, repeatable way to establish a shared understanding of what quality looks like for your team or product, and how you can prove it over time for your (incoming Dracula joke) stakeholders.

5. The 100 websites that shaped the internet as we know it.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Gizmodo.
  • Contributor: Zoe Warne.

The Internet. It’s that sprawling, amorphous beast we love and loathe, capable of luring us in with harmless clips of dogs on tricycles before abruptly transforming into something from the darkest, most bizarre realms of the human psyche.

Not entirely unlike Pennywise, the shape shifting clown monster from Stephen King’s novel ‘It’, and various film adaptations of the same name. While Pennywise presents like a clown, the creature is actually the embodiment of our collective worst nightmares.

Some of these sites seemed perfectly arbitrary a decade ago and turned into monstrous destinations or world-destroying monopolies. Other sites have been net positives for humanity and gave us a glimpse of what can happen when the world works together.

This list of 100 memorable websites isn’t quite as sinister, but there are some questionable selections nestled in among the collection. It’s a great read but still, be warned.

Please note that a few of the sites in this piece are NSFW, it might be one to save for later.

6.  Questions UX designers should be asking.

  • Read full article here.
  • Written by Garrett Kroll.
  • Contributor: Mel Bruning.

John Carpenter’s ‘Village of the Damned’ is the heartfelt tale of ten highly evolved, telekinetic children with hive-mind, who use psychic abilities to destroy their parents and control their hometown. As a unit, the kids are super effective because they can read each other’s minds.

So, when the community eventually decides to overthrow them, it’s nearly impossible: they plan for every scenario and have a shared consideration and consciousness of all potential outcomes. Imagine how efficiently they’d run a project.

Garret Kroll’s piece may not get you to that same level, but it’s still packed with practical, applicable tactics you can use to get everyone on the same page before kicking off your next project.

7. Form a daily writing habit—it will improve your life.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Darius Foroux.
  • Contributor: Daniel Banik.

The thing about writing is this: there’s nothing to it but to do it. The best way to improve your writing is to write. Constantly. Consistently. Over time, you’ll feel less rigid when you go to write and more comfortable articulating your ideas.

Don’t shy away from practicing, even if it’s just composing a single tweet or status update. Do it every day. Michael Myers—the masked villain from the Halloween movie franchise—may not be a particularly compelling writer, but he’s definitely relentless.

In the films, he perseveres for fifteen years in an asylum, waiting to enact his murderous rage, and he’s basically unstoppable once he gets out. Admittedly, that may not be the perfect blueprint for better writing, but points for persistence.

Everyone can write for a day—or two, or three. But there are very few people who write consistently for years. So don’t just get started. Keep going.

8. Collaborative agile activities reduce silos and align perspectives.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Rachel Krause.
  • Contributor: David Baddock.  

Gwoemul—the river monster from Bong-Joon Ho’s ‘The Host’—is probably the least famous monster on this list, but it’s also one of the most fascinating. As a mash-up tadpole/catfish/crocodile beast with the temperament of a rabid hyena, Gwoemul, the Korean word for ‘monster’, is a terrifying hybrid of multiple ideas and impulses.

It’s a perfect embodiment of the entire film; ‘The Host’ blends bizarre comedy with action and horror to create a similarly ‘Frankenstein’ atmosphere. Rachel Krause’s agile techniques will help your team develop solutions that are equally multifaceted; when we can comfortably combine multiple ideas and perspectives, the result is almost always better.