30 November 21 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from November.

And in the blink of an eye, 2021 is almost in the rear-view mirror.

There is no doubt that it has been a whirlwind of a year, but we’re finally on the homestretch. And to see you cross the finish line, Isabel Silvis has curated a selection of articles that reminds us to keep it simple.

From taking the stairs to Darwin’s theory of evolution, we’re reminded that there is great power in eliminating complexity. So, buckle up as we head back to basics—this is Super8 in November.

1. Why simplicity works.

What do Newton’s laws and the uniformity of the cosmic microwave background have in common? The answer is quite literally, simple: that, at its birth, ‘the universe has turned out to be stunningly simple’.

But in a Universe seemingly saturated with complexity, what work does simplicity do for us? And why do simpler laws work so well?

Professor of molecular genetics, Johnjoe McFadden, might not have all the answers as to why nature’s laws seem so simple, but he does explore the considerations that great scientists like Newton, Darwin and Wallace have used to deliver a simplification that eliminates unnecessary complexity.

2. 5 things high-performing teams do differently.

At a glance, it may seem daunting. But becoming a high-performing team is easier than you think.

There are three psychological needs that have been shown to build healthier, happier, and more productive teams: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Yet relatedness can be hardest to cultivate, and as recent studies suggest, it’s also found to be the key to success during the pandemic.

To put it simply, when teams feel connected (and like each other!), they are more likely to achieve greater success.

The best teams are not more effective because they work harder, they’re more effective because they invest time in connecting in genuine ways.

So, keep it simple. Grab that coffee with your teammate or talk about your favourite movies with your boss, you might find you, and your team, are better for it.

3. You make my head spin – reducing motion on the web.

A common misconception in modern web development is the notion that making things move around a page makes it more fun for everyone.

Unfortunately, for some users, keeping it simple is the way to go as motion can trigger feelings of dizziness or nausea. When building these special features into designs, we must also consider the users who are better off without them.

Don’t worry—you can have the best of both worlds. This article explains how to cater for users who enjoy the motion and those who don’t.

4. Moving from customer-centricity to customer advocacy.

It can be hard to believe at times that a company will act with customers’ best interests in mind. So, when it happens, it creates delight and tends to stay with them.

But how do you turn your customers into fans? And why should you always escort but never point?

Here, Jon Picoult provides a few examples of companies that are proactive in their strategies and who truly advocate for their customers.

5. The problem with ‘click here’ and ‘learn more’ links.

Think ‘click here’ and ‘learn more’ links is a simple way of labelling hyperlinks? Think again.

Avoiding repetitive and vague naming conventions has been a common rule for aeons, yet we still see it every day in the digital world.

Link labels should be descriptive, with unique text, and have the keywords placed upfront. This allows users to scan and speed up the interaction, instead of reading surrounding content.

By creating descriptive and unique links, we give users more certainty about where they’re going and what they can expect—and we make them more accessible for everyone.

6. Core web vitals is a measurable ranking factor.

Google is constantly changing their SEO ranking criteria and unlike before, having good content is no longer sufficient.

By now, we should know that users don’t like waiting around, and these recent changes place a big emphasis on performance and page experience. These new critical factors, referred to as Core Web Vitals, are measurable and relevant ranking factors.

Performance is measured based on the three values: loading time, reaction speed, and visual stability of the page. So, having a website that loads swimmingly is not only critical for a better user experience, but for your ranking too.

7. Optimizing resource loading with priority hints.

  • Read the full article here. 
  • Article by: Leena Sohoni, Addy Osmani, Patrick Meenan.
  • Contributed by: Kurt Smith.

Adding priority hints to elements on a web page can be a simple way to optimize loading and improve Core Web Vitals. This feature introduces an easy-to-use attribute—importance—an attribute that addresses scenarios where you may need priority hints.

However, with this new experimental feature, developers can boost the priority of elements that normally don’t have high priority.

Conversely, resources that don’t need high priority can have their priority reduced. So, if you’re looking for a trick or two to optimise resource loading, this web.dev article has you covered.

8. How to use writing to improve your thinking.

Here’s a simple trick to help you improve your thinking: anytime there’s something that bugs you and you feel the need to say something about it, write down what you plan to say first.

You might end up learning something about yourself and changing your perspective.

“Think of this way: Every time you write, you get the chance to improve your thinking. It’s like taking the stairs instead of an elevator. You’re going up anyway, why not take the stairs, which is good for you.”

By writing it down—whether it be a shopping list, a business plan or an important conversation—we train our minds to better use language and to focus on the real reason behind our message.