Since January, I’ve been learning front-end web development through the Udacity Grow With Google scholarship. It’s been a fast, fun 2.5 months. I first learned to code in 1990 (dating myself) when I took a Fortran class. And although I went on to take computer science classes in Ada, Lisp, and Smalltalk, and later learned Perl and some Visual Basic, I’ve never experienced a learn-to-code environment as supportive as this one.

The 3-month challenge course is almost over now, and I’d like to give back to future Udacity students (and anyone else learning front-end web development) by highlighting a few…

I’ve been reading about brand strategy lately, and these paragraphs in Marty Neumeier’s The Brand Gap caught my eye:

Before you can create emotion with a package, however, you need to understand the natural reading sequence of your category. It so happens that customers process messages in a certain order, depending on the product, and messages presented out of order go unheeded.

Here’s an example of a typical reading sequence: 1) the shopper notices the package on the shelf — the result of good colors, strong contrast, an arresting photo, bold typography or other technique; 2) the shopper mentally asks…

There’s a saying that humor is like a frog: you can dissect it to see how it works, but the thing dies in the process. But I’m happy to say that’s actually not true. In this great video, Nerdwriter breaks down how Louis CK tells a joke, and the humor doesn’t die in the process.

Humor is the type of storytelling I have the most respect for, because I think it’s the hardest to do well while also being the least recognized as taking any skill.

Originally published at

“Money is probably the most successful story ever told. It has no objective value: it’s not like a banana or a coconut that you can actually do something with. If you take a dollar bill and look at it, you can’t eat it, you can’t drink it, you can’t wear it — it’s absolutely worthless. We think it’s worth something because we believe a story. We have these master storytellers of our society, our shamans. …

August 28, 2016 by Jina Chan

Remember Superbowl 49, back in 2015? Superbowls are known for their fun, extravagant, over-the-top ads. It’s when companies go all out. There was the Budweiser ad with the puppy and the Clydesdales. A sassy ad in which a little blue pill gets lost and ends up…um, enhancing… a Fiat. And then there was the ad for Nationwide Insurance.

Jarring, depressing…people hated it. You’re watching the big game with your friends and suddenly there’s a dead kid.

This blog is about how storytelling is everywhere. And in this ad, the story is, “The world is…

The following is a guest post from Unthinkable contributor, Jina Chan. These are her practical takeaways for helping you find your authentic voice, pulled from our episode, Zig When Others Zag.

As craft-driven creators, we do our best work when we listen to our intuition. Sometimes that can be hard to do, with so many voices clamoring for our attention. We may start to doubt ourselves and wonder what unique qualities we actually bring to the world. The drive to create original work bumps up against the fear of forcing it and coming out sounding fake.

First, know that you’re…

October 21, 2016 by Jina Chan

“Know your audience.” It’s a maxim of good storytelling — not just for writers, but also for stand-up comedians, salespeople, advertisers, and anyone who has to give a speech or perform in front of a crowd.

Why not just ask them? That’s how a lot of audience/user research works. But there’s one wrinkle: your audience doesn’t necessarily know itself.

For example, copywriter Abbey Woodcock wrote this great breakdown of a Larabar ad. The ad is DIY instructions for how to make our own Larabars. At first glance, it seems like the audience is moms…

Jina Chan

I'm a UX writer studying front-end development in the Seattle area. Say hi on Twitter @jinachan

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