Nerd Alert Issue 9: Grab a Napkin, You Just Got Served

Serving up hot, fresh links since 2014.


What we're reading this week

  Adam: Design sprints are a technique Google Ventures has developed to allow the companies they work with to build and test nearly any idea in just 40 hours. Their findings will eventually be released as a book, but for now they’ve shared a list of articles and resources they’ve developed over three years spent refining their process.

  Ben: How to Check a Website for Accessibility is up, and it’s an interesting read. Carrie Dils is publishing a series on online accessibility, and I’m curious to see where it goes. Yes, you can subscribe to her newsletter.

  Denise: I don’t know about you, but I usually do my best thinking in the shower. Probably because I can’t take my phone in there with me. I am loving WNYC’s Bored and Brilliant project, which is making the case to bring boredom back. The project has great stories on the science and consequences of smartphone addiction, apps to track your usage and a week’s worth of daily challenges to help you find a better phone-life balance. And if you’re interested in the journalistic takeaways from this project, Poynter has a good piece about WYNC’s innovative audience engagement.

  Kaeti: “Designing your team is just as important as designing the product itself.” Cap Watkins writes about how he’s approaching the needs of the design team at Buzzfeed. A lot of this advice resonates with me, especially the importance and value of transparency.

  Meredith: Courtesy of, this API Explorer Tutorial is an effort to banish boring static documentation. You can read and listen to more about interactive documentation.

  Ryan: If you haven't had the chance to use Oculus Rift yet, I highly recommend seeking out the opportunity. As Zac Nielson covers in this piece, this device has the ability to create a level of "presence" (i.e., immersion) which is nearly impossible to achieve via traditional writing, audio and video. It's a tremendous innovation that has implications for a variety of fields. For news organizations, it means a new medium for story telling. What better way to create empathy than to convince your audience that they are truly a part of the narrative?

  Will: I found myself rereading this piece on Vox Product earlier this week about how the algorithm to populate their homepage works. If you haven't read it yet, check it out!

  Bert: Bow to your snake bot overlord.

This week's guest contributor: Becca Aaronson, Texas Tribune - @becca_aa

The way a user navigates a website plays an essential role in how story unfolds on the web. This guide to efficiently simplifying navigation in Smashing Magazine includes a bunch of simple tips on how to keep your website’s navigation intuitive. As news organizations continue to experiment with novel ways of telling stories on the web, we’re seeing more outlets go beyond the basics to create interesting nonlinear narratives, such as NPR’s Borderland and the Tribune’s Shale Life series.

Each week we ask someone from outside our team to contribute a link, tool or idea. Are you our next guest star? We think you might be. Send us a note at

We Made A Thing

Our projects, manifest

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ICYMI: We announced Largo 0.4 last week and published a sample child theme to help you get started on your own Largo-based project. Sites using the new version of Largo now include:, and

Shout outs

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This fun, open-source UX project checklist will help you keep track of all your important project milestones.

Some Other Stuff

Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: Alice Gerard, Strange Land, nominated for a Grammy at 80.

COOK: On chilly mornings, a warm breakfast helps, and the video is elegant: Buckwheat Porridge with Poached Pears.

WATCH: How to build a cat lamp.

GIF: It's Friday. Kick back, relax and have yourself a drink.

Did you read the whole thing? Feel free to forward it to all your friends. Human or canine.