Are you all ready for this? Do do do do do do do doo.
Another month done and dusted for 2015. But let’s not feel loss. Rather, let’s rejoice and remember October for the month that it was. The month of National Dessert Day (yep, it’s a thing), Back to the Future Day and the Wallabies scoring a place in the Rugby World Cup final.
And what better way to remember this month, than Super8! This month, the Augies have scoured all corners of the interwebs to bring eight thought provoking and soul mystifying articles.
In this edition of Super8, you’ll be able to read articles on everything from why UI shouldn’t be a Disney movie, how to manage ‘future founders’, marketing 101 and the secrets of being Oprah. On behalf of August, I hope you enjoy this month’s round-up.
So without further ado, let’s get into Super8.
If there’s an article you Pocketed, Tweeted, Facebooked, Instagrammed or told your desk buddy about this month, add it to the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.
1. Your UI isn’t a Disney movie.
If you believe Sophie Paxton – and she puts forward a compelling argument in this article that is hard to disagree with – then interaction designers should stop with the ‘Disneyification of user interaction (UI) motion’. Instead, we should focus on treating animation like design: with restraint and elegance.
“Animation is like cursing. If you overuse it, it loses all its impact.”
Sophie argues that you should be able to justify the use of each animation with the benefit to the user. A response of, ‘it looks pretty’, or comments that the animation will ‘delight the user’ is not justification for animation. Sophie explains that animation is about function and it should help to convey things that are happening or are about to happen.
Overusing animation can dilute the message you are trying to communicate and it flattens the hierarchy in the design.
“You wouldn’t make every sentence of a document into a heading. The same principle applies to animation.”
Part of why I love this piece, aside from it being hilarious, is the practical examples that Sophie shares towards the end of the article. Two examples show best practices for animations of notifications and cards expanding. This is a must read if you’re a user interaction enthusiast, interaction developer or just a lover of good design.
2. Everything hinges on the narrative of your work.
It’s human nature to tell stories. Stories help us to sort chaos into order, develop understanding and they provide meaning to our lives. In this fascinating read, Paul explores the power of stories and the role they have in individual motivation as well as motivating others.
When communicating with other people, it is important to know how to tell your individual story, ensuring that you convey this in a way that does not do you or your company an injustice. But this story does not only impact others, it also has a flow on effect to your own psychology.
Paul provides interesting insight into how the personal stories we create can act as a restraint or can enable us to become the person we dream to be.
“Stories not only shape our identities, they are our identities. We can only change if the story changes.”
An example that Paul uses is seeing mundane or repetitive tasks in a different light. By reframing your story positively and changing your attitude, you’ll find the work easier and notice a better outcome.
If you’re interested in the impact that stories can have on improving your life, I also recommend checking out Life’s Stories by Julie Beck. It is about how the arrangement of ‘plot points’ can contribute to a narrative that shapes who you are as a person.
3. The key to Oprah Winfrey’s success: radical focus.
Yes, this article is about Oprah.
And no, before you ask, it is not cheesy.
If you have ever wanted to get inside Oprah’s head and pick her brain, or wondered how Oprah, aka the ‘superhuman’, gets things done, then this is our pick for you.
Admittedly, this is quite a lengthy article. But it goes into detail about how Oprah started the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and made it a success. Some good red wine and jazz goes nicely with this read.
It is packed with helpful tips from Oprah. One that resonated with me is about providing your undivided attention to what you are doing in each moment and being present. Oprah suggests that this is the key to achieving good results.
“It’s about living a present life, moment to moment—not worrying about what’s going to happen at 3 o’clock and what’s going to happen at 7 o’clock… That whole thing about multitasking? That’s a joke for me. When I try to do that, I don’t do anything well.”
The ‘Church of Oprah’ has been parodied over the years but has also been recognised as an effective way to manage people within a team. This management strategy focuses on empowering people to deeply understand the vision of the brand and feel like they can make decisions on behalf of the company they work for.
One of Ophrah’s employees, Logan, jokes that he often considers ‘W.W.O.D’ (What Would Oprah Do) when facing a difficult problem. While it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, the style has clearly worked for Oprah and the empire that she’s built.
4. Just how important is ‘the fold’? 5 things to consider.
design + development
‘The fold’ is as hotly debated a topic as whether you keep tomato sauce in the fridge or pantry. With passionate debaters that sit on either side of the fence, this is a topic that comes up regularly at August.
In this brief article John Herman questions whether the fold still holds some relevance regardless of whether a website’s format is traditional or scrolling.
There are a few key takeaways that should be highlighted from this piece:
- We live in a world where users have short attention spans. Although scrolling is a natural way for people to interact with an interface, we should be careful to monitor and measure when or if users are getting bored and then dropping out.
- To encourage users to continue scrolling, you can consider using content trails or staggered content columns.
- Clicking is a clear decision made by the user. It is a choice. Whereas mindless scrolling is simply a way for users to browse.
- Understand the people who use your website and find out what devices and screen resolution they are using to view your web content. Design with this in mind. There is no ‘one size fits all’.
Earlier I mentioned that there are two sides to this argument. Well, if you are interested in hearing more about the other side, you may recall in a previous edition of Super 8 we shared an article written by Luke Wroblewsk. In this piece he argued the opposite view that there is no fold.
5. How to integrate traditional and digital marketing.
This article essentially summarises my whole marketing degree in less than ten minutes. It’s a great read if you have ever wanted to do a short course in marketing. Or if you are looking for a quick refresh on some fundamental principles.
Samuel uses Back to the Future Day as the catalyst for casting our thinking to yesteryear. He urges digital marketers to go back to understanding the fundamentals of marketing and explains why this is important.
Samuel identifies that many digital marketers do not have the education or experience in traditional marketing communications. Instead, many get caught up in the whirlwind of latest trends and technology. To highlight his point, Samuel quotes industry veteran Bob Hoffman:
“Marketers overestimate the attraction of new things and underestimate the power of traditional consumer behaviour.”
Arguing that traditional media forms, such as TV advertising, are not dying, Samuel proposes that that these forms of media have a role in integrated marketing communications. By ultimately understanding customers and the marketing mix, organisations can better develop strategies and execute them.
I leave you with this,
“The point is that no marketing strategy is best for every purpose, product, brand or industry. Sometimes TV advertising is part of the promotional mix, sometimes not.”
After all, it’s all about the specific circumstances and objectives of what you’re trying to achieve, isn’t it.
6. 10 ways to do content marketing in boring industries.
If you have ever wanted to get a glimpse into the dark art of turning the boring into the interesting, then look no further. This one is packed with ten top tips.
Nayomi states that there are ‘no boring industries, just boring content’. In fact, she proposes that being in what would be considered a ‘boring industry’ can actually work to your advantage. Very few organisations within ‘boring industries’ take the leap to transform ideas into innovative content. This means that it is easier for your organisation to stand out.
Using examples to illustrate, Nayomi suggests telling brand stories, being aware of and recognising your unique position and knowing your customers. Ultimately it’s about thinking outside the square and using your unique position to your advantage.
7. Takeaways from mobile web behaviour.
It wouldn’t really be a Super8 without a discussion on the recent findings of mobile use.
What is different about this article, and what I like in particular, is that it gives you an insight into the behaviour of people using mobile but then suggests actions that you can take to create better mobile experiences.
It takes the stats that you have heard a million times before and transforms them into impact and an action plan. A project manager’s dream!
I am going to let this one speak for itself. Enjoy, you’re welcome.
8. Managing employees who are future founders.
If you are an organisation that attracts innovative-type people, then you’re probably attracting the type of people known as ‘future founders’. While it can be difficult to manage these people, there are lots of benefits that future founders can have on your business.
Jon acknowledges that managing a team with future founders can be hard work. These types of people want to be involved in everything and anything. But they also want to be engaged and respected as more than just employees – they want to be seen as highly invested stakeholders. This can give you an edge.
Future founders are gathering information, skills and experiences so that one day they can go out on their own and make a success for themselves. They spread their ideas and make sure they get heard.
This article explores a few management techniques that can help you get the best out of your future founders. While this article is specifically designed for managing these types of people, I think that there is a little ‘future founder’ in each of us. So I see the techniques in this article as good practice that can be applied more generally. You can apply them as a way to communicate with your colleagues – regardless of your role in the business.
Jon sums it up well when he says,
“Your role as a manager is not just to have your team or department complete work successfully… Being a manager is about looking after a group of people who have come together to manage a project and drive a product or service. It’s about taking care of their issues, their needs and their problems — and representing them when needed.”
This resonated with us strongly at August. We live by the idea of focusing on outcomes and identifying problems. For us, it is important that everyone in our team is involved in solving client problems. A brief should be used to guide people in their thinking and should always include the ‘why’ of a project.
And in the bonus round…
I simply couldn’t resist also sharing an interactive ‘book’ produced by SBS and based on the short story The Boat by Nam Le. The piece tells the tale of refugee migration to Australia. The result is beautiful, emotionally moving and engaging. Thanks to Sylvia for this great find!
Don’t forget to let us know of any articles you loved reading this month. Post them in the comments below!