This ain’t my first rodeo.
For a couple of years I ran an email newsletter for all things Sass, creating a weekly newsletter sharing articles, tutorials, code, videos, pretty much anything I found interesting about Sass.
Giving myself the task of sending this out weekly though had three things to it’s detriment.
The first was having to find 8-10 links per week. Often I would be adding items to make up the numbers and this led to several similar items and sometimes subpar items being included.
The second was adding the items. I was using Mailchimp with a custom design for the newsletter. I would bookmark the items as I went through my week and then copy and paste them into the relevant HTML snippets and adding a blurb about the item before the newsletter hit the inboxes.
The third was my health. Forcing myself on a release date and time of every Tuesday at 10am made me have to continually do the legwork to get it released.
The third one was where I just gave up. I stopped completely.
Roll on a couple of years and I started working on more projects that were wholly related to what’s now often termed “Design Systems”.
I was reading everything I could find about the myriad of things that make up a “Design System” and got to a point where I felt I should start sharing these.
I should start a new newsletter.
Knowing what happened the first time I decided to run a newsletter I gave myself some constraints:
As I’ve mentioned at some points I was adding items to the Sass News email just to fill the space. This time around I decided I would only add things I felt others would benefit from and things that offered something new to the conversation. I didn’t want to include the 40th article on “What is a Design System”.
I still read through these, if they didn’t add anything substantial to the conversation they didn’t get into the email.
Sporadic by nature
I didn’t want to tie it down to a weekly publication cycle and by going with the ‘curated’ idea on what is included I allowed myself to decide when to ‘hit publish’. When I felt it was ready, not when it was 10am on an given Tuesday.
Sometimes the titles of items don’t really give to much away and this could stop people clicking, but with the two constraints above affecting what goes in it was also my time being saved.
Where am I looking?
To make a (what I hope to be) useful newsletter I read, watch, listen to a plethora of resources on Design Systems almost everyday, but where do they come from?
I have an RSS feed that not only subscribes to several people, companies and ‘magazines’ int the industry pulls in feeds from Medium for:
- Design Systems
- Pattern Libraries
Sometimes the Medium RSS feeds are chock-full of things, and I am seeing an increase in this as the weeks go on.
To note, if I find something via a Medium RSS feed and find that the author has posted it on their own blog, I link to that instead.
I have several saved searches that I look through a couple of times a day, these are the same terms as the list of RSS feeds from Medium.
I search for “Design Systems” in Googles search engine, picking the last week, or last 24 hours (depending on how long I think it was when I did it last. This search is also used in the Google Search video section.
About that emoji
Essentially the icons (kind of) relate to the sections: articles, tools and tutorials interesting reads with things like slide decks, videos, and podcasts having their own emojis. Leaving a heart for actual design systems I have found.
There’s really nothing more to the use of emoji than that. Initially I went with no categories at all, but felt they would help people clicking on what is just the title. I hope adding a emoji used helps playfully inform readers that they’re about to click on a video rather than an article.
Those Warning Signs
Some time ago I was going through the backlog of around 90 unread articles on Design Systems. About 80 of those were Medium articles and about 40 of those took me to either their user-hostile “you ready a lot and we like that” pop-up or their money-grabbing “you’ve read lots this month, pay us to read some more.”, it turns out that Medium only likes you reading things when you give money to do so.
Therefore I’ve started to add a little warning notice to each article that’s on Medium. There are people that probably won’t click on it, but there are people that will (and do) and I just want to let them know they might actually be able to read it.
If I ever find an article that has been syndicated to Medium where, generally, the writer publicises the original url I use that (note: with the various Medium pop-ups it is better to put that link at the top of your article).
I know some people might feel begrudged with this, “why shouldn’t I expect to get some income from what I share?”, I don’t begrudge you from wanting to make a little bit (I assume it’s a little bit) of money from your efforts. I just do not like Medium’s hostile environment for the reader.
What does that summary line mean?
From “…the room was humming harder, as the ceiling flew away.” to “For you there might be another star, but through my eyes the light of you it’s all I see.” every issue of the newsletter gains a unique summary. As part of publishing a newsletter using curated you have to provide a summary text as well as a title. So I’ve borrowed a concept I think I first saw on either Raw! or Total Guitar.
Every time I come to hit the publish button, I now look to the last song that I was listening to on Spotify, pick a line or two from the lyrics and use that as the summary.
If it’s curated, isn’t it biased?
Maybe, I hope it isn’t. I try and include things that I really think others would benefit from rather than “what’s hot on twitter” in the design systems spectrum.
I hope through the various sources I find articles exposes articles that others may miss, or never see. I am reading several “What is a Design System?” posts a week so you don’t really have to. If I feel an article has something new, unique, or different to share. That’s a surefire way of it being added into the newsletter.