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Sunday Musings #12

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photo-14(Here’s a thought we should all be reminded of on a daily basis.)

Maybe the future of publishing isn’t bent on destroying long form writing after all. Twitter put a nice little scare into most of us, with the world bracing itself for a 140-character max communication scenario. Texting, Instagram, SnapChat – the writing is on the wall, no? Not so fast, I say (and hope!). This thoughtful article that challenges the conventional format of a publication’s homepage (it’s a good question to ask – why do we all default to the chronological “latest news/posts first” format when an easy to consume “topics” template might make more sense) got me thinking about this topic. I’ve been a huge fan of PandoDaily since it came out and now I’m anxiously awaiting the opportunity to create content for Medium. Both are performing well, from what I hear, and both fall more towards the long form version of writing than snack size bites. Back to the aforementioned article – the author is testing out a new homepage format that offers easy to digest snippets of article topics in one screen shot. All of this leads me to wonder if it’s not long form writing that is dying (or, rather, appetite for long form writing), but the way content is presented and promoted. In other words, keep the thought provoking, well-researched articles but display them in bite size shapes.

Here’s the big hairy BUT – 6 seconds is plenty of time to make an impression. Jay Baer recently recognized Lowe’s for exemplary use of Vine, Twitter’s 6-second video app. The simple ideas are typically the best. If you can find a way to improve a customer’s life in 6 seconds, you’ve struck gold.

Cognitive overhead is the reason your message is (or isn’t) getting across the way you think it should. Read the entire article, trust me. Cognitive Overhead is defined as “how many logical connections or jumps your brain has to make in order to understand or contextualize the thing you’re looking at.” The author goes on to state: Minimizing cognitive overhead is imperative when designing for the mass market. Why? Because most people haven’t developed the pattern matching machinery in their brains to quickly convert what they see in your product (app design, messaging, what they heard from friends, etc.) into meaning and purpose. We, the product builders, take our ability to cut through cognitive overhead for granted; our mental circuits for our products’ patterns are well practiced. Your vision is blurred by your investment in and experience with whatever it is you’re creating or pushing. I’ve gone through a lot of variations on messaging and website design for DISRUPTIVE…and I’m still not done. That’s because when I feel I’m being clear about what it is we do, usually the market tells me otherwise. That’s what makes design so challenging – breaking down the complex into the simple, while considering different audiences’ points of view.


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Growth obsessed startup co-founder (MusicBox) and strategist-for-hire.

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