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Write like a human, think like a robot

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Write like a human, think like a robot

Great content is human, refreshing, and relatable—not robotic. But the more users expect content to cross devices and platforms, the more we need to think like our robot friends.

No designer can lay out thousands of pages to make sure every possible permutation of a large responsive site looks right. No Readability editor can review every article someone saves and decide which elements are important. No magical elf can add cross-reference links to every deep layer of content.

Instead, we must rely on systems that automatically determine how content should be assembled, rendered, formatted, and connected. And the more we understand how these systems work, the better we can put them to work at ensuring our content stays lively and lovable, wherever it goes.

Great content is human, refreshing, and relatable—not robotic. But the more users expect content to cross devices and platforms, the more we need to think like our robot friends.

No designer can lay out thousands of pages to make sure every possible permutation of a large responsive site looks right. No Readability editor can review every article someone saves and decide which elements are important. No magical elf can add cross-reference links to every deep layer of content.

Instead, we must rely on systems that automatically determine how content should be assembled, rendered, formatted, and connected. And the more we understand how these systems work, the better we can put them to work at ensuring our content stays lively and lovable, wherever it goes.

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Write like a human, think like a robot

  1. Write like a human, think like a robot.sara wachter-boettcher confab 2013 www.flickr.com/photos/avoiretc/3441244946/
  2. www.flickr.com/photos/saracimino/8528177619/ Content needs to be human.
  3. Relatable Relevant Appropriate Empathetic
  4. People come to Pinterest not just to do things, but to feel things. Tiffani Jones Brown, earlier today
  5. Stop using marketing words and setting unrealistic expectations... Be genuine in your language and set real expectations. Steph Hay...also earlier today
  6. We can take this even further.
  7. Humanness turns data into content.
  8. Mike Atherton, “Beyond the Polar Bear”
  9. But we don’t always see this as “our job.”
  10. {This is a true story.}
  11. www.flickr.com/photos/crownsocial/6231232219
  12. You could filter results based on your horoscope! www.flickr.com/photos/crownsocial/6231232219
  13. You could filter results based on your horoscope! What if it customized content based on the weather? www.flickr.com/photos/crownsocial/6231232219
  14. You could filter results based on your horoscope! What if it customized content based on the weather? Those filters are just FPO. The developers will make it work. www.flickr.com/photos/crownsocial/6231232219
  15. Make it look like Pinterest! You could filter results based on your horoscope! What if it customized content based on the weather? Those filters are just FPO. The developers will make it work. www.flickr.com/photos/crownsocial/6231232219
  16. {Meanwhile, in dev...}
  17. www.flickr.com/photos/tifotter/544669881
  18. Where does the feed come from? www.flickr.com/photos/tifotter/544669881
  19. What should the algorithm be based on? Where does the feed come from? www.flickr.com/photos/tifotter/544669881
  20. What should the algorithm be based on? Where does the feed come from? Can we add metadata after the feed comes through? www.flickr.com/photos/tifotter/544669881
  21. What should the algorithm be based on? But what fields are actually in the database? Where does the feed come from? Can we add metadata after the feed comes through? www.flickr.com/photos/tifotter/544669881
  22. www.flickr.com/photos/davidcemin/4201972514 The “concept.”
  23. {It never launched.}
  24. Some sites aren’t so lucky.
  25. Some reach challenges down the line.
  26. We’ve been here before.
  27. www.flickr.com/photos/gold41/5280122352 There’s no magic cure.
  28. www.flickr.com/photos/brightmix/1487922055 Our teams need our help.
  29. www.flickr.com/photos/balluffsensors/8448435294 The ‘bots need our help.
  30. It’s time we get to know the ‘bot brain.
  31. www.flickr.com/photos/evilerin/4420070113 Rules let robots make decisions.
  32. Systematic Consistent Automated Logical
  33. ‘‘How do you get that sense of hierarchy of information that we’re familiar with from a printed newspaper page? How do we create that in a form that’s appropriate to the iPad? Mark Porter, “Introducing the Guardian iPad Edition”
  34. While also... 1. Using a simple, flexible grid layout system 2. Not manually laying out each day’s edition 3. Doing better than a PDF
  35. Logic is like a robot style guide: Rules keep the results consistent.
  36. What it takes: 1. Structure 2. Metadata 3. Rules 4. Transportation 5. Context
  37. 1Structure
  38. www.flickr.com/photos/tdd/4493216417 It’s hard to parse this.
  39. www.flickr.com/photos/28478778@N05/5728474385/ This is much easier.
  40. You need a structural model that matches your users’ mental model.
  41. Does this content need to be: 1. Something you can search and sort by? 2. Related to other content? 3. Extracted to display elsewhere? 4. Reprioritized or resized for some destinations?
  42. Recipe • Title • Byline • Publication Attribution • Yield • Active Time • Total Time • Teaser • Image • Preparation • Main Ingredients • Servings • Cooking/Prep Time • Nutritional Information
  43. Metadata 2
  44. Extra data the ‘bots can use. www.flickr.com/photos/rusty_oleum/7325471968/
  45. Descriptive Structural Administrative Helpful
  46. Relevant for summer, grilling Secondary content (side dish) May not be distributed to third parties
  47. 3Rules
  48. If this, then that.
  49. Every content chunk is an opportunity.
  50. Display Combine Remove Connect Reprioritize
  51. If a recipe is in the app, then prioritize the ratings, but hide reviews.
  52. List all side dishes tagged as summer from Gourmet or Bon Appétit in the BBQ feature.
  53. Recipe • Title • Byline • Publication Attribution • Yield • Active Time • Total Time • Teaser • Image • Preparation • Main Ingredients • Servings • Cooking/Prep Time • Nutritional Information Related Wines Reviews Recipe Types Related Menus Related Recipes Related Diets
  54. Transportation 4
  55. You need content that can travel.
  56. APIs take those content chunks. www.flickr.com/photos/ogimogi/2253657555/
  57. And turn them into products. www.flickr.com/photos/fourstarcashiernathan
  58. So you can build what you need. www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/2391794127
  59. APIs power things you use every day.
  60. Kin Lane, http://apievangelist.com
  61. Yelp Info User Content Google Maps+ +
  62. APIs let you bring them together. www.flickr.com/photos/vanityblue/8694220424/
  63. Context 5
  64. Mashups aren’t necessarily meaningful.
  65. UI design Labeling Explaining
  66. Things like... • Where should I go right now? • Sights near me • Most popular destinations
  67. Content brains bring new possibilities.
  68. It knows... • Starting city • Ending city • Arrival and departure dates
  69. What if... • Time zone difference alert • Upcoming weather • City info
  70. You know your content.
  71. You know your users.
  72. You know your message.
  73. www.flickr.com/photos/paulvaarkamp There’s nothing to fear.
  74. You don’t have to write an algorithm. But you can make one better.
  75. Empathy can’t end at pages.
  76. www.flickr.com/photos/benhusmann/5126030385 Make all your content more human.
  77. thank you, CONFAB Images used via CC-Attribution license unless otherwise noted. sarawb.com @sara_ann_marie rfld.me/content-everywhere

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