That’s right folks, it is our favorite time of the month and, we are completely confident, yours, too. It’s NOKlist time! And, in this, the last Nuggets of Knowledge collection of 2014, and in the spirit of the holidays, we bring you both ponderings for the mind and presents for the small, greedy child within.
We’ve pulled together a fun mix of embracing failure, changing your perspective, combatting your fears, and facing down new challenges. Good stuff for heading into a new year.
And lest we send you tail-spinning into rampant emotionalism, we’ve also included some pretty great, actionable articles on social media measurement, building personae, improving your mobile experience, and gaining a true understanding of user experience.
So never say we never gave you nuthin’.
(Also, as ever, reflect back over the year by checking out the #NOKlist archive).
Justine Bateman is my new hero. She may not don a cape or wield a lasso of truth, but she is super nonetheless.
The actress, who catapulted to stardom via the 80s hit Family Ties, has been in the process of a major career change, and Nicole LaPorte captures Bateman’s honest and authentic look at that journey in this doesn’t-pull-any-punches interview.
Laced with colorful metaphors, LaPorte and Bateman cover topics such as: being a 48-year-old college student crying in her car after exams; owning her decisions on how to balance work, school, and being a mom; and her thoughts on the future of content consumption.
One thing is for sure: technology and entertainment make great bedfellows. And if you tell her she can’t do this? Then she has this to say: “F— it. There’s no way I’m not doing this.”
I told you – she’s pretty super.
I cannot recommend this article enough for people who have a hard time asking for help at work. I have a really difficult time with this myself, even though I work with an amazingly supportive team who would be more than willing to help me out (and has helped me out before) and even though members of my team regularly ask me, “Hey, do you need help with anything this week?”
What I love about this article is that it’s relatable (always good) and actionable (even better). It starts by identifying what our reluctance/difficulty comes down to: fear of being a burden, fear of being seen as incompetent, fear of being rejected. (See also: fears that go along with dating.) But seriously, I found myself nodding my head as I read this entire first section.
It then goes on to explain the origins of those fears (they exist for a reason) and to refute them with some research studies and insights into the way our minds, emotions, and sense of perception work. (The psychology aspects of this article are pretty fascinating in their own right.) I love this because it challenges our tendency to see asking for help as a weakness by revealing that some fears we have are kind of unfounded. (Hey, sometimes being wrong is a wonderful thing.)
And finally, it covers how to go about asking for help. The way we ask can make a big difference. Cultivating a culture of help in the workplace can too.
Basically, in just one article, you can get some comfort that you’re not alone, insight into the way our minds work, and ways to make asking for help easier.
Oh, and a Dwight Schrute reference. Long live The Office.
There’s a lot of advice out there about best UX practices, but I think this particular resource should come right at the top of the list. Not only will it help you make educated UX decisions, it will also vanquish any incorrect notions you have about UX.
The collection of 32 UX misconceptions was created by user-experience designer Zoltán Gócza (you can find the list in its entirety on the website UX Myths). Each myth is quashed using data, so this guide is useful when UX questions or doubts arise in a project and you need evidence to validate or guide a decision.
The second part of this resource came to fruition when designer Alessandro Giammaria took the 32 myths and transformed them into really beautiful posters (you can download them here for free). I like to keep them as reference material for future UX projects, and hey, if you’re really in love with them, why not use them for decoration (and education) in your office space? A few of my favorites point out UX misconceptions such as, “White space is wasted space,” “Search will solve a website’s navigation problems,” and “Stock photos improve the users’ experience.” Whether you look at the website or the posters, I hope you’ll discover many nuggets of UX knowledge.
By Steph Walden
Have you ever left home without your smartphone? I always have a terrible feeling of being blind and just a little bit vulnerable without access to everything stored on it. Just think about how much we rely on our smartphones: contacts, calendars, notes, camera, photos, music, news, connections, automations, tools, and more.
We’ve built a society that demands that everything be at their fingertips. It must be fast, instant, and the user experience needs to match their style.
Think about how quickly you get annoyed when you encounter a bad mobile experience, a site that’s hard to navigate or that loads in the wrong dimensions. It seems so basic, but too many companies haven’t put the right amount of time into creating an optimized mobile experience.
Check out this article about “How to Improve your Mobile Marketing Strategy.” Steph Walden talks about responsive design, emerging trends, mobile advertising, and understanding the data.
But remember: mobile is just one touchpoint in the overall customer experience. Don’t forget what comes BEFORE and AFTER they reach your mobile/responsive site.
By Aaron Dignan
Over the last three years, Mack Web has experienced all kinds of challenges, hurdles, and contrast (of what works and what doesn’t), all of which have helped us to realize how important it is that we have meaning and purpose in our work. This discovery has changed not only how we do business but also who we do business with. We know now that because we value meaning ahead of money, we need to work with companies who align with this philosophy as well.
In this intriguing video, Aaron Dignan, the CEO of Undercurrent, gives a 53-minute talk about how Digital Isn’t Software, It’s a Mindset. It’s an inspiring presentation about becoming an unstoppable “digital” company by growing and structuring your business differently. If you want your company to ultimately become a major player in your industry and be one of those great companies who really makes an impact on our world, you’ve got to employ a new model, the 5 Ps – Purpose, Process, People, Products, and Platform – to your business.
There are so many great takeaways in here for companies both large and small. My favorites are the emphasis on putting values before revenue, the importance of investing in the long-game, and always making sure that you’re linking purpose to what you’re doing.
One of my absolute favorite things to do when we’re onboarding a client is to work up profiles for their target customers. It’s pretty important to understand who we’re talking to and what matters to them before we start, y’know, talking to them.
When we’re doing this, we usually start with our clients’ understanding of the people they want to attract and then adjust as we go on. I’m a sucker for character-driven narrative and, as a dabbler in the fictional arts my own self, creating these personae is an occasional treat in the midst of the other stuff I do. (And yes, I admit, I’m one of those snobs who likes to pluralize with a situationally-appropriate ‘ae’ instead of an ‘as.’ It has caused some confusion, but I think it’s worth it. It won’t surprise you to know that I also toss around phrases like ad infinitum and ad nauseam whenever possible.)
This article has some great insights into creating those personae, using both qualitative and quantitative research, along with examples of how this works and what it looks like when it’s done poorly. A really insightful, really helpful article.
by Ian Laurie
I wouldn’t call myself a data dork. I don’t always try out new social metrics I see in articles or presentations. More often than not, I send them to my to-do-later task list to try out whenever (which spells the kiss of death if they linger on there too long). Not so with Ian’s deck. I even asked him questions about the worksheet he created to go along with the deck…and he responded! Major points for Ian. That also goes to show you exactly how into this deck I am.
Ian doesn’t just show new metrics, but he also shows you how to use features in followerwonk and Twitter Analytics you may have overlooked or forgotten about entirely. It’s not a long deck (only 67 slides with supplemental worksheets!) and it’s pretty clear (the percentile rank stuff for engagement and impressions still trips me up a little, but worksheets can do that to me sometimes). This is well worth a review!
“Dude. Suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” – Jake the Dog
Generally speaking, I don’t like to suck at something. I don’t like to eff stuff up, and to be completely fair, I don’t know many people that do.
I put a great amount of care and detail into my work and I am happy when things turn out well. When things don’t go as planned or turn out the way I had hoped/thought they would, I’m super not happy. Disappointing people wrecks me. And, as the esteemed John Doherty has so eloquently said, “I’m afraid of looking like an idiot in front of the people whose opinions I care about most.” Pretty much, failure feels like the worst.
But maybe it’s not.
Maybe we should be more okay with failing at things, because failure means that a) we’re trying and b) we’re learning. And that’s good stuff. Mack always tells us that we will never get it wrong and we will never get it done. It breeds a culture of experimentation around this place, and that’s a good thing for us to embrace, because it helps move us forward (even with bumps and hiccups and failures along the way).
Successful people crave failure. They believe feedback is a gift, because it helped get them where they are today. And there’s a bunch of science behind it too. In this article, Belle Beth Cooper of Buffer explored this idea, with a little insight from some of those highly successful people and three things you can start doing today to change your thoughts on failure.
So, take some advice from a cartoon pup, and start suckin’ at somethin’.