April Resource Roundup: Food for Thought

While they might provide food for thought on the weekends, a new perspective before the workday, and/or even a way to unwind before bed, many design resources are far from revolutionary. Yet we hold out hope, as some of the best help change our (team’s) perspective. Nine such resources came to our attention this past month.

Design research, content strategy, gamification, oh my! Here’s the goods to make us good (err, well, better):

Design research

Design research is a necessary part of every user-centered design project, so more resources to that end never hurt:

Content Strategy

Far too many content strategy articles focus on the outcome rather than a productive “how to” – especially when it comes to writing. The following resources focus more on how to write effectively.

  • Tone of voice. Creating a solid “voice” is difficult, even for experienced content strategists. Enter Gather Content: A Guide to Tone of Voice. Created by Gather Content’s Kevan Gilbert back in November, this article provides a rough heuristic for lending personality to your website or application.
  • Valuable content. Those looking for more content strategy advice should check out Ahava Leibtag, President of Aha Media. She’s been practicing content strategy since 2005 (!), and her Creating Valuable Content checklist is a gift to anyone tasked with its creation. It’s simple to use and easy to adapt.
  • Using comics. Kevin Chang’s book, “See What I Mean,” was written in a show-and-tell fashion, beginning life as a presentation. The book demonstrates how comics can engage teams and facilitate understanding. Read it, and you’ll… see what I mean.
  • Health literacy. Although it was published all the way back in 2010, the US Department of Health and Human Services’s Health literacy online guide is as contemporary as ever. Chock full of research, design advice and content considerations, it’s an easy recommendation.


The gamification debate is complex. While it’s generally agreed that adding a “game layer” to an application is not a solution, there’s definitely value in incorporating engaging elements into our websites. These two resources dig a little deeper into the true aim of gamification:

  • Fun and (learning) games. Keeping the Play in Learning is a video highlighting the game mechanics inherent in education, banking, eCommerce, and other daily tasks. Play is also the subject of a TED talk or two.
  • Engagement via gamification. Chris McClelland’s presentation, engagement through gamification, examines the differences as well as the similarities between game mechanics – rewards, achievements, and competition – and UX best practices.

Live and learn

Ours is a rapidly evolving field, and every so often we learn another way to make the process more efficient. Leave a comment with your own favorite infographics, process-changing checklists, or a slideshare or video that speaks to the innovative designer in you.

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