Every single month, there are blogs, articles, and stories that stop us dead in our tracks and make us wish we’d written something that profound. Rather than keep this information to ourselves, our team has decided to assemble a monthly list of the blogs that made a huge difference to us professionally, personally, or both. We hope you get as much out of these as we did.
Full transparency, we also wish this idea was originally ours as well. Instead we’re borrowing it from FiveThirthyEight who themselves borrowed it from Bloomberg Businessweek.
Well, I’m cheating a little here because this isn’t a blog nor do I really wish I wrote it. What I really wish is that I could be just as great as Steve Kerr in dealing with conflict and discord, as exemplified by the way he does with Draymond Green in this post. This article from Bleacher Report details the complicated, emotional, and ultimately productive relationship between a patient coach and a fiery player. In it, there are lessons that business leaders and account executives can take and apply to their interpersonal and client relationships.
In addition to admiring Kerr's behavior, I also really love how Draymond reacts to his coach’s letter. The minute he realized how sincere Coach Kerr was and how he was doing his best to empathize with his feelings, Draymond immediately squashed the attitude and was willing to engage in a more healthy manner.
I wish every organization had a ton of Draymond Greens with a bunch of Steve Kerrs to help guide them. Our business world needs people who care deeply for each other and for the collective mission and are able to work through moments of misalignment and even drama in a very “human” way. It’s never “just business,” it’s always personal.
The blog I wish I’d written this month is titled "Why UX, UI, CX, IA, IxD, and Other Sorts of Design Are Dumb." Truthfully, I don’t actually wish I’d written it, because reading it validated a lot of my emotions on the subject, and stilled some fears I have been battling since entering the design world - so actually I’m thrilled someone else wrote it.
In this blog, designer Slava Shestopalov calls out designers in our industry for their ever-changing titles and asks for the focus to be put back on what we are actually producing. Rather than designing for the sake of design, he asks us to design for the sake of our clients and their results.
I have been feeling this way for awhile. I have struggled with what to title myself on LinkedIn. Titles I held in the past? Skills I think I should lead with? Titles I know will spark interest or sound cool? Because design titles appear to be so subjective, there are many options. For instance, I could call myself a UX/UI/Digital/Product/Website Designer. But why do that when I could just call myself a designer. Do I need those buzzwords to prove something? Can I not design websites unless I claim it in my title?
Shestopalov does a great job in his blog calling out how ridiculous the state of titles is in our culture, and I found myself laughing throughout his writing. The images along the way helped. If you’re confused by design titles as a client or have struggled with what to title yourself as a designer, I highly recommend giving this blog a once-over.
Reading blog posts and articles that provide copywriting advice can be frustrating. Writing is one of those abilities that everyone has to a certain degree, so many copy blogs speak to the entrepreneur trying to write for his own business instead of the professional copywriter. That's where Copyblogger comes in.
Copyblogger author Nick Usborne, a seasoned veteran with 35+ years of experience, penned a piece entitled "How to Fix 5 Conversion-Killing Copywriting Mistakes" this month, and I almost do feel like I wrote it myself. This article is that relatable. Nick's blog posts speak to professional copywriters directly with a tone reminiscent of a trusted colleague saying, "Hey man, I've been struggling with this. Maybe you have too." How unbelievably refreshing!
While all the points he covers in this cogently-titled article are valuable, it was Conversion Killer #2 about asking the wrong question that really spoke to me. Nick talked about how copywriters tend to start with HOW they're going to say something before even considering WHAT they're going to say. We try to be clever and impactful from moment one, instead of just writing out what the reader wants/needs to hear and evolving the message from there.
As a writer, I tend to put pressure on myself to be clever 100% of the time, which only serves to cause imposter syndrome and writer's block. What Nick is conveying with this point is to start simple. Just state what it is the reader wants to hear. Your end product will have to say that no matter what, so start simple and then get creative. As an old band director of mine used to say, keep the main thing the main thing.
"I wonder if there's a Chrome extension for that?" It's a thought that crosses my mind multiple times a week and more often than not, the answer to that question is yes. I find myself telling co-workers and friends about plugins I love, but I've never thought to write a blog post about it. Enter Chris Coyier's blog: Browser Extensions I Actually Use. Chris is a well-respected developer that has contributed to tons of projects like CSS-Tricks and Codepen, so it was a pleasant surprise to see some overlap in the plugins he uses and the ones I use. If you don't have time to read his blog (though I highly suggest you do), here are the extensions that I keep in my arsenal that also make an appearance in Coyier's blog:
1Password: An awesome password manager that's secure, works across multiple browsers, and allows you to build shared vaults to share credentials with other people. Once you start using 1Password, it's hard to think of ever living without it.
A Fine Start: I used to use Muzli for inspiration (and still highly recommend it) but have found A Fine Start to be a less-obtrusive way to organize bookmarks and avoid the standard new tab page in Google Chrome.
Full Page Screenshot: This a must-have extension for all of us at Evangalist and the name says it all: use it to take full page screenshots of any webpage and save as an image. After that, you can use that image to your heart's desire (mockups, design edits, etc.).
A great blog can present you with totally new ideas or just make you feel understood. Many of the blogs that we loved this month do both, and we hope they help you solve a problem or think about things in a new way. If you read a piece of content that helped you grow this month, feel free to share it with us! We can’t wait to read it.