It’s amazing that mass-production has gotten to the point where what are, at their core, impersonal products can be personalized, customized, even printed at home. This progress matches up perfectly with our digital lives, which are already personalized, customized, and on-demand. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this offline advancement in mass-customization technologies stemmed from the now-ubiquitous personalization of our digital spaces. Whether it chicken or egg, it’s allowed for some really cool stuff.
This month alone I’ve learned about Uniqlo’s “UTMe” app, which allows users to design a custom t-shirt that is then printed for them, and Adidas’ upcoming MiAdidas upgrade to include the ability to print user’s photos on shoe uppers. Uniqlo’s app has some cool interactions built in, and I’m curious to see MiAdidas’s new interface.
I can’t help but wonder about the sustainability implications: are these personalized items more resource-intensive to produce? Alternatively, will owners covet them and get more use out of them than non-personalized items?
"When you adopt someone else’s narrative, it’s because you aren’t hearing your own clearly enough."
— Not design-related, but a really nice quote that stuck with me. Source: http://thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest/2014/01/18-things-women-shouldnt-have-to-justify/
This post is half-rant, half-content-strategy, so bear with me. I’m starting to reach my saturation point with Upworthy-style headlines (e.g. “I thought this was just another cat video, but what I saw changed the way I look at bike locks forever”). Now, there are myriad reasons for this that are mostly very subjective, and I won’t bore you with those, but what I want to talk about in this post is why this type of headline should be avoided by 99.99% of properties that value their users.
User-friendly headlines speak to, or even summarize, the content of their related article. This gives users the ability to quickly scan for the content that meets their needs. Seems obvious, right? The marketing hook headlines used by several web properties at the moment (a la Upworthy) speak around, rather than about the content. This serves only the business and its desire for more eyeballs.
This literal adaptation of headline style is not actually a common mistake made by sites, but the focus on business and internal organizational needs and terminology certainly is. I’ve worked on several digital properties for large corporates that mistake internal terminology for understandable, user-facing terminology. As part of the UX process, designers should vet questionable terminology with users, and set guidelines for content writers about tone, voice, and content of headlines.
In sum, writing usable headlines may seem like common sense, but in fact can be a challenge for any company or organization. Make sure they aren’t overlooked in your next project. On a related note, Buzzfeed-style top lists (e.g. “the 25 coolest ways you can use Legos”) are killing me slowly as well, but they actually work as headlines so I’ll save that for a post about a different topic — maybe about the rise and inevitable fall of a web-trend….