The best things we read this year — favorite links from the Intercom team

Dec 22, 2016 · 5 min read

Few industries are as prolific as the tech world when it comes to creating content. And we’re pretty good at consuming it.

Day in, day out, the Slack channels at Intercom are filled with links to absorbing think pieces, industry news, fresh opinions on new trends and, of course, our own writing — it’s a wonder we get any work done. We bookmark, we read, we learn, we move on.

But every now and again, a piece comes along that hangs around that little bit longer. As 2016 draws to a close, we asked our colleagues to share a link to something they loved reading this year, something that stuck with them.

If you enjoy these recommendations, you might want to subscribe to our newsletter, where we share a weekly round up of what we’ve written and some of the best things we’ve read.


Write like a human
“Amy Thibodeau — a former Facebook content strategist — wrote a lot of great posts this year about bots, microcopy and empathy in design. But it was this one from way back in March that made me stand up and cheer.”
- Elizabeth McGuane, Content Strategy Lead

Is group chat making you sweat?
“Jason Fried offers 17 rock solid reasons why the mass migration to group chats will leave us all struggling, not just to keep up, but more importantly stay effective.”
- Des Traynor, Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer

What if the future of technology is in your ear?
“2016 was the year when voice as an interface became ‘the’ thing, so it’s good to think about the other side of voice — sound — as a complementary interface of the imminent future. Designers must now deeply understand how technology that makes surfaces useful works — not just the surfaces they’re designing. Soon, a baseline skill of software product designers will include writing system level code, not just UI level code.”
- Hugh Durkin, Senior Product Manager

Bots won’t replace apps. Better apps will replace apps.
The best tech industry post I read this year was Dan Grover’s piece on bots, which dismantled the industry hype and put it back together in the context of the smartphone and app ecosystem.”
- Emmet Connolly, Director of Product Design

The secret code to unleashing the world’s most amazing flavors
“A bit leftfield but I loved this Wired piece where Momofuku founder David Chang explains his unified theory of deliciousness. It’s informed by his college classes in advanced logic, but that’s not why I’m including it here. Chang’s explanation of how to breath new life into classic dishes (addressing “fixed” problems), or that cuisine around the world shares common patterns (problems are more global that most of us assume), has as much relevance for startups as anything that comes from more usual sources of advice. “
- John Collins, Managing Editor

The designification of motherhood
“Design should not exist purely to justify its own existence. Design should not operate in a vacuum. Linking design to the real world is important and is the only way to ensure that we are solving actual problems for users and for customers. Jennifer uses her own experiences of becoming a mother to show us how to engage with real world problems for real people.”
- Stewart Scott-Curran, Director of Brand Design

Building products
“One of my favourite collections to read this year has been Julie Zhuo’s Medium blog, The Year of The Looking Glass. The posts topics range from personal growth to management, motherhood and the never-ending struggle with time. This post, from a talk she gave at TNW Europe, was the standout piece for me. I find myself constantly coming back to it and learning something new.”
- Michelle Fitzpatrick, Product Manager

The case for startups to put CX at their core
“I love the holistic approach to customer experience that is outlined in this piece about how Eero started early with customer experience, as well as the depth they go into outlining things like value-driven conversations with customers and how the concept of customer support is changing rapidly.
- Jeff Gardner, Director of Customer Support

Friends first. Then design.
A must-read for researchers and designers alike. This article from John Collery at IDEO really resonated with me. In it, he communicates in a powerful way that in order to innovate, you have to make genuine connections with the people you’re innovating for.”
- Emma Meehan, Senior Product Researcher

Learning in the age of digital distraction
We hear a lot about the dangers of task-switching, falling down tab rabbit holes and generally being always plugged in, but this piece delves a bit deeper, interviewing the authors of The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High Tech World about the evolutionary instincts that drive this info-hungry behaviour, how it’s transforming how we learn and what we can do to help future generations cope and adapt.”
- Nathalie Marquez Courtney, Content Marketing Manager

Unintuitive things I’ve learned about management (parts one and two)
“I’ve always enjoy Julie Zhuo’s writing, but as a recent first time manager I found these pieces particularly interesting. They really helped me understand what it means to be a good manager.”
- Gustavs Cirulis, Design Lead

Want to read some of the best things we wrote? Head to our blog for a round up of our favourite posts on all things related to startups, company culture, product strategy and design.

Illustration by Kelly Carpenter for Inside Intercom. Intercom makes messaging apps for businesses that help them understand and talk to customers.

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