The Three Things

By Lindsay Bell

Welcome to the 68th edition of The Three Things, the weekly update of three links, podcasts, videos, or books you can’t miss – from Jason Konopinski, Joe Cardillo (, and yours truly.

For those of you new to this series, The Three Things arrives in your inbox on Sunday mornings (unless you don’t subscribe, but that can easily be fixed if you hurry over and enter your email address or add to your RSS feed) so you have some extra time to spend perusing the obscure content we’ve curated for you (and one another) before your week begins and deadlines, meetings, and work takes over.

Today we explore purpose driven design, the rise and fall of Flappy Birds, and online psychopathy.

Design is Purpose Driven and Solves Problems

Jason on the Hallmarks of Good Design. First off, I need to thank Joe Cardillo for introducing me to the mind of Ben Yoskovitz.

Ben wrote a book with Alistair Croll called Lean Analytics, using the core philosophy of the Lean Movement — iteration — to approach the abundance of data that surrounds us in our daily lives.

When I look back at my professional experiences over the past several years, one conversation (or set of conversations) seemed to come up again and again: The practical side of design and its importance to solving problems. Iteration’s cycle of reflection and process improves design, and makes it more than pretty things. You heard me right. Design is much bigger than icon sets, typography, and color treatment.

In this post, Ben examines the way good design solves a fundamental problem, and helps change behavior. I can’t help but use Apple as an example of problem-solving design in practice: The brilliant simplicity of the Apple ecosystem allows its users to do more, build amazing things, and feel at home, thanks to a robust and practical onboarding experience. Intuitive, elegant, simple — three characteristics that make up the hallmarks of good design.

The Viral Rise & Fall of Flappy Bird

Joe on the Secrets to Viral Marketing. Since, among other things, I’m in the infographics biz, people constantly ask me how to make something viral. While it’s true that there are some things you can do to encourage it, I was reminded of how fickle it can be with the quick rise of Flappy Bird.

In no particular order, here are what I think Flappy Bird did well, and what you have to do if you’re trying for viral marketing.

1) Make whatever you create instantly recognizable and easy to take the next action (typically sharing, but could also be signing a petition, etc…). UX/UI matters. If you place a piece of “viral content” in a non-viral UX, well, you get the point.

2) Run the content and/or site by a few people and ask them to give you their simple, basic thought pattern / “story” of how they view it. E.g. with Lend Kendall / CentUp’s viral site Headlines Against Humanity my personal thought pattern was “Hah! That is so true, I’m always seeing awful headlines that seem like a joke” > Oh I wonder what other awful headlines there are  > here I’ll quickly share this so other people can try it. The story should be simple.

3) Required: Harness Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Hacker News, etc. It’s worth setting up accounts there even if you don’t regularly use, and if you can get enough people you know to up vote a link it’ll sometimes get a viral loop started. It’s not a guarantee, but drives massive traffic if it does get picked up.

New Study: Internet Trolls Are Often Machiavellian Sadists

Lindsay on Digital Haters. The title of the above article made me laugh. It’s a bit of a ‘dog bites man’ article, in that most of you are probably saying “Um, no s**t, Sherlock!” Sure, we know that there are online idiots, people who go out of their way to be ugly and negative online. I’ve written about them before: Folks who inject spitefulness and negativity into almost every post they make or comment on. Who seem to take great pleasure in making the rest of the world miserable, or worse.

Now, a group of researchers from The University of Manitoba (Go Canada!) have discovered something quite disturbing (machiavellian sadists in the title might have tipped you off!) It turns out, these trolls really are more disturbed than we thought. 

In the world of psychology, there are certain personality traits that fall in the so-called “Dark Tetrad”: Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others). Surprise! The researchers found correlations, sometimes quite significant correlations, between the above traits and online trolling behavior.

So, the next time you’re getting troll’ed online, take my advice: Don’t engage. And step AWAY from the computer! Cause if your luck is anything like mine, out of the 5.6 percent of survey responders who admitted to trolling, you’ll end up with the most psychopathic one of all!

Now it’s your turn. Is there a book, podcast, article, TV show, blog post, or story we should read?

Lindsay Bell

Lindsay Bell is the content director at V3 Marketing, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.

View all posts by Lindsay Bell