Best reads of 2016: 21 articles on design, technology, and society


These pieces are ones that have been particularly useful in helping me design and tend to be fairly pratical.

How to Do a UX Review

“To be objective we need two sources of data: numbers from analytics to appeal to reason; and stories from users in the form of personas to speak to emotions.”

The Anatomy of The Perfect Mobile E-Commerce Checkout Page

“With mobile devices now accounting for over 50 percent of e-commerce traffic, this post will break down the mobile checkout flow of some of the most mobile savvy e-commerce brands.”

The Same Link Twice on the Same Page: Do Duplicates Help or Hurt?

“In many situations, it’s better to streamline your interface with few clear choices than to offer more links intended to capture a broader audience.”

Pop-Ups Vs. Usability, Conversions And Bounce Rates

“So yes, you might boost your subscriber list, but be aware that those very same subscribers might never open your marketing mails, much less click through and convert.”

Chinese Users Want the Same E-Com Experiences as Their Western Counterparts

“Anyone browsing through the sliding banners will also notice a distinct lack of images pushing family values or social status, two touch points suggested ad nauseam as critical for appealing to the Chinese consumer.”

Digitization and The Loss of Iconography

“To communicate something simple—like a camera, for example—we rely on a shared image of what something that takes pictures looks like. But today, what a camera looks like is unclear.”


These articles explore how the tech industry's influence over us is increasingly far-reaching.

The ‘Women Are Broken’ Industry

“Their feelings are fundamentally negative and that purchasing faux-solutions is a sensible way for them to manage their lives.”

The Rise of Dating-App Fatigue

“The easiest way to meet people turns out to be a really labor-intensive and uncertain way of getting relationships.”

How technology disrupted the truth

“Now, people distrust much of what is presented as fact – particularly if the facts in question are uncomfortable, or out of sync with their own views – and while some of that distrust is misplaced, some of it is not.”

Who Will Command The Robot Armies?

“The Kuvée is the $200 smart wine bottle with a touchscreen that tells you right on the bottle what the wine tastes like. My favorite thing about the Kuvée is that if you don't charge it, it can't pour the wine.”

A Science-Backed Guide to Taking Truly Restful Breaks

“Cognitive activities during work breaks actually made fatigue worse, likely because reading websites or checking emails taxes many of the same mental processes that we use when we’re working.”

Donald Trump, the First President of Our Post-Literate Age

“The immediacy of the oral world did not favor complicated, abstract ideas that need to be thought through. Instead, it elevated individuals who passed along memorable stories, wisdom and good news.”


These articles represent some of the ways (Western) society has been changing in recent times, which is useful to know if you're designing for people.

Why do we work so hard?

“It is a cognitive and emotional relief to immerse oneself in something all-consuming while other difficulties float by. The complexities of intellectual puzzles are nothing to those of emotional ones. Work is a wonderful refuge.”

The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems

“There’s a social dimension to this: the ‘likes’ one gets for being an international do-gooder might be greater than for, say, working on homelessness in Indianapolis. One seems glamorous, while the other reminds people of what they neglect while walking to work.”

Machine Money and People Money

“Even in a world where the machines do most of the essential work, the competition for additional Creativity Money will drive the economy.”

The new political divide

“A world of wall-builders would be poorer and more dangerous. If Europe splits into squabbling pieces and America retreats into an isolationist crouch, less benign powers will fill the vacuum.”

Open-plan offices might be making us less social and productive, not more

“It is possible that these shared offices may increase employees’ use of coping strategies such as withdrawal and create a less friendly environment in a team.”

Escape the Rat Race: How to stay small and create a super flexible freelancing life

“When it's just you, you only have to worry about yourself. The pressure's off because you just have to cover your own outgoings, and that might mean you can work three days a week.”


And a few others...

Politico Magazine reconvenes the top Trumpologists

“He is, the biographers said, ‘profoundly narcissistic,’ ‘willing to go to lengths we’ve never seen before in order to satisfy his ego’”

[This was done before he got elected, which these guys didn't see coming but it's still a fascinating behavioural portrait]

Is There Any Reason to Keep Up with the News?

“If the news represents a new kind of faith, it is surely one of our least examined. The media rarely does stories on itself — reports that might examine their actual worth and credibility.”

The World Is Getting Better and Nobody Knows It

“Almost everybody thought that crime was prevalent – but they all thought it occurred somewhere other than where they lived. The environment they had first-hand knowledge of felt safe, but the places they heard about on the news seemed very risky.”

If you want even more, here's my recommendations on Pocket.

Last updated on 5 April 2017

ux / ecommerce / society / technology / reading / articles / 2016 / freelance /

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