Latest Writing & Things of Interest

June 20, 2018

Link: Six Colors Coverage of Podcasting

I’m working on a new podcast and have been in research and development mode to make it as good as possible. Jason Snell and Dan Moren’s archive of podcast-related articles for Mac and iOS users has been absolutely invaluable. I already own a lot of the apps they discuss, but I’m discovering some golden tips for getting the most out of them.

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June 1, 2018

Link: One year later...

A sobering (but amazing) post from my friend Dave Verwer on how he changed his life post-diabetes diagnosis. I’ve known Dave for a few years and it’s been wonderful seeing his transformation over the past year, both physically and mentally. Haven’t chatted with him in person in the last few months (hopefully this summer in London, though), but the last few times I did, he seemed genuinely happy, making one of the best people I know in tech even better. Keep it up, Dave. Well done.

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May 29, 2018

Link: Designing for Actual Performance

The performance article everyone should read.

It’s amazing what simplicity, thought, and consideration can do for the web. Maybe we should extend the same principles to things beyond code?

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May 23, 2018

What Email Marketers Can Learn From the Original Apple iPod

ipod illustration

It was about being very focused and not trying to do too much with the device—which would have been its complication and, therefore, its demise… the key was getting rid of stuff.

That quote is from Jony Ive, the lead designer of many of Apple’s iconic products, in this case the iPod. While Apple does a lot of stupid things (getting rid of MagSafe and headphone ports, fucking up laptop keyboards, etc.), there’s one thing they almost always get right: Simplicity. Although Jony Ive was talking about product design, email marketers could learn a lot from his work and Apple’s overarching focus on simplicity.

Far too often, email marketers (or the stakeholders making the demands) try to cram as much as they possibly can into an email campaign. Product updates, company news, surveys, and events jockeying for position in the same email. Little thought is given to the content other than trying to fit it all in. Subscribers are overwhelmed. Email campaigns are ineffective.

It isn’t just email content, either. The underlying email strategy suffers, too. Especially with retailers, the cry is for, “More, more, more!” More emails, at all hours of the day, for “limited time only” sales that happen every damned day of the week, month after month. The desire to send more emails in the hopes of driving engagement works directly against that goal.

Jony Ive knew that more is rarely better. While competitors were busy cramming more features and specs into their MP3 players, Apple focused on getting rid of the things an MP3 player didn’t need. They focused on stripping the product down to its core, and the results were revolutionary.

In the same vein, email marketers should consider overhauling their own strategies and email campaigns. Audit your emails, document everything you send, then take an honest, painful look at those emails and see what you can kill. Strip onboarding drips down to their essentials. See which emails people actually open and dump the rest. Find out what content subscribers are actually interested in (hint: it’s not everything) and leave the rest on your blog.

Be thoughtful. Be focused. Be ruthless.

We might not be able to replicate the success of the iPod, but chances are that we can blow our competitors out of the water, just by stripping emails and the strategy behind them down to the basics.

May 23, 2018

Link: Enough Already

I’ve been thinking about this same concept over the past year or two, especially as my wife and I have gotten better about budgeting and paying down debt. The idea of enough seems so foreign to us these days, but it’s wildly useful and should be top-of-mind. A good reminder from Paul Jarvis that we should all probably revisit on a regular basis.

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May 18, 2018

Link: Why the LGBTQ+ Community Must Fight for Disability Rights

Some excellent thoughts on the intersectionality of LGBTQ+ and disability rights, from three people working to expand both. Two quotes stand out. The first from Dominick Evans:

I think a lot of people don’t realize how common it is to have a disability, but disability rights are human rights.

And this one from Kay Ulanday Barrett:

So many of my peers are constantly asked to do free work, or to be so grateful to literally sit at the table with able-bodied people. But you know what? I don’t want to be a plus-one, or in the background of a photo as some kind of poster child. Trans people and disabled people and people of color should be compensated for their knowledge, for their experience, for their professional contributions. Sitting at your fucking table is not good enough.

Also, them. is an excellent publication. Follow it, you won’t be disappointed.

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