Medium is Bringing Back Custom Domains

Ev Williams, writing in Medium:

Speaking of portability, it’s always been possible to get an export of all your posts and other data in Medium. And by default, all Medium publications and profiles have RSS feeds (e.g., blog.medium.com/feed) – full text, except for metered/paywall stories.

We are now bringing back another option for portability – and brandability – namely, custom domains. Not that they ever went away entirely. Medium hosts tens of thousands of publications under their own domains. However, we paused setting up new ones a couple of years ago. Among other reasons, we needed to fix some cross-domain bugs and revamp our system for registering SSL certificates. We have now prioritized that work so that we can scalably offer custom domains again.

So soon you’ll be able to take advantage of Medium’s new publishing tools and tap into the Medium network – assuring deliver of your content to your followers – while showing up under your own brand/domain and confident in the knowledge that if you ever want to move off Medium, that’s fully in your control.

The web removes many of the barriers that keep us from becoming publishers. If you have something to share with the world, it’s easier than ever to publish your writing. It’s also easier than ever to own your own platform. If you take publishing seriously (as you should,) you should aim to have some degree of control over where your content shows up. This doesn’t mean that you need to hand-craft web pages from scratch or manage your own web server. But at a minimum, you should aim to publish in a domain name you control.

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The Informed Life With Rob Haisfield

Episode 43 of The Informed Life podcast features an interview with behavioral product strategy and gamification consultant Rob Haisfield. Rob’s area of practice is fascinating; I’d like to have a deeper discussion with him about how to design for changing behavior. However, our discussion in this episode focused on his use of Roam, “a note-taking tool for networked thought.” Rob is an early adopter, and I wanted to hear about the role Roam plays in his work.

He, too, described it as a tool:

It’s a tool for thought. What do you do with tools? You work with them, right? My job is that I think about things for a living. So, I need to track and develop my thoughts over time. I need systematic processes for myself to bring about creative insight and to consolidate all of the information I get from papers, from meetings, from lectures, all of that needs to be in one place. I will say that Roam makes it so you don’t need to do quite as much work as you would do on other apps. In fact, way, way, way less work, because the data architecture, as I mentioned before, with just knowing how blocks relate to each other, it makes writing in Roam into an extremely expressive thing. If you’re just operating intuitively under an understanding of how the data architecture works as you’re writing, then that means later you’ll be able to use queries and do a lot of this work in hindsight, pretty easily.

If you’re intrigued, check out Rob’s tour of his setup. And of course, listen to our conversation.

The Informed Life Episode 43: Rob Haisfield on Roam

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The Expertise Trap in UX Critiques

From an article in TNW about the UX of posting and commenting on LinkedIn:

As haphazard as lots of the design is, there does appear to be a goal: driving up in engagement. That makes sense, but where the real joy comes from is the batshit way this is approached.

The article highlights two features ostensibly designed to drive engagement: LinkedIn’s canned responses, which, according to the author, have produced “a terrifying world filled with reams of identikit comments that come across as inhuman and deeply insincere,” and its “add hashtag” feature. Most of the article focuses on the latter.

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Ahead of the Game

My family and I like board games. A few have become favorites that we play time and time again. However, we especially love learning new games. I’m often the one who reads through the rules to explain them to the rest of the family. When I do, I inevitably think of my work.

Much like an information environment, a board game is a little world. You inhabit that world when you play. You’re asked to make decisions between choices that are only relevant in that context. You do so towards achieving particular objectives and following particular constraints.

When you read the rules, you’re inducted into that world. You learn about the game’s theme and goals, and distinctions that only make sense in that context.

Consider the introduction to the most recent game we learned, called Planet:

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The Causes of Inconsistent Navigation Structures in Product Families

Yesterday I published a new post on The Architecture of Information. It’s about the importance of maintaining structural consistency across a family of products.

Specifically, I wanted to put in writing an example I’ve used when talking about this stuff: the location of the “Sync to Furthest Page Read” button/link in the Kindle user interface. Bottom line: this is an important feature if you use Kindle in several devices concurrently. However, the way you access it depends on what platform you’re using. That can be frustrating. If you haven’t done so already, please read that post.

What I didn’t cover there is why this sort of inconsistency creeps into product families. (I’m focusing The Architecture of Information on examples, and not on speculating about how they’ve come about.) That said, writing yesterday’s post made me revisit my interview with Christian Crumlish. In that conversation, I asked Christian about the sources for this type of inconsistency, and even brought up the same Kindle example. This was part of his reply:

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The Informed Life With Nataly Restrepo

Episode 42 of The Informed Life podcast features an interview with food designer Nataly Restrepo. Nataly works as a food and beverage innovation consultant for restaurants and producers of consumer goods.

I asked Nataly on the show because I wanted to learn to learn more about food design. This is how she explained it:

food design actually is everything — like every designed action — that improves our relationship to food. So, it can be from a product and service, a business model, an object… everything that you can design that has an aim to improve our relationship to food.

In other words, it’s a holistic practice that strives to coordinate the work of various other professionals — chefs, architects, industrial designers, etc. — towards creating a coherent experience centered on eating.

As with many other such “big picture” design disciplines, I was curious about the degree to which clients understand the value that food design can bring to their business. She confirmed that this is a challenge:

It’s always very difficult to sell this approach because it’s something that can be very intangible sometimes, because you’re selling an experience, you’re selling that concept that obviously can be translated into tangible things, but it’s like a second part of the process. First you have to understand the vision and the superior meaning that you want to create, and it’s not always easy for the owner of a restaurant or the managers of a chef to recognize the value. But it’s starting to become easier.

I enjoyed this conversation with Nataly; I hope you get value from it too.

The Informed Life Episode 42: Nataly Restrepo on Food Design

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