The Periodical

The Periodical

I'm gathering thoughts on the content strategy for The Periodical here. This page will evolve as I respond to readers' engagement with different aspects of the newsletter's content.

I'm writing this partly for my benefit, but primarily for others' benefit


First things first, I adopted the 'upfront unsubscribe pattern' from my friend Charles Burdett (who, I believe, adopted it from James Clear).

Unsubscribers are going to unsubscribe anyway, so make it easy for them. There's nothing worse for your brand – over the longer term – than an irritating unsubscribe process.

Hiding your unsubscribe links only achieves one thing: Irritated unsubscribers who, you can be sure, will share their frustration with others. Not good for your brand.

Content Strategy

At the top of the email, in the small print, I state clearly that the newsletter, "explores product design, leadership and design × business." I need to explain out a little here and think through the themes so I stay on topic (without losing my personality in the process).

Scratch Content

This is scratch content for The Periodical: it provides an overall sense of cohesion, but also serves as a scratch area for content.

Everything below here is constantly in a state of flux, so probably not worth reading.


Mighty Networks

I'm currently exploring Mighty Networks, which fascinates me. I have a network for The School of Design – which I'm paying for monthly so I can experiment – and I'll be launching a social network for the school soon, but that's not why I've included it here….

The idea that anyone can build their own social network – which is essentially Mighty Networks' offering – is incredibly powerful. Why use Facebook Groups (or any of the multitude of other tools) when you can create your own network, nurture it and build your future business around it?

I'm beginning to wonder if tools like Mighty Networks (frequent, ongoing contact) might supplant tools like Mailchimp (occasional, periodical content).

Whilst I enjoy curating an email newsletter, the idea of nurturing a network – cultivating it daily by helping others – is interesting and potentially transformative for a business and definitely transformative for a school. Businesses live or die by their relationships with their customers and Mighty Networks looks set to deepen those relationships.

Technology is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. #nocode tools – like Webflow, Mailchimp and Mighty Networks – are maturing at an incredible pace.

It's now possible to build a technology startup without having to write a line of code. Build your website, with Webflow; create your social network with Mighty Networks; and maintain your mailing list with Mailchimp.

With tools like Mighty Networks, you'll soon be able to run your entire business – from billing for community membership, to charging for courses, via a constant conversation with your customers – with just one tool. The possibilities that opens up are endless. If you're in any way involved in education, I'd strongly suggest taking a look.


OS as Website

I love Kristen Kwong's personal site. It's overall aesthetic is one of an operating system, complete with windows that can be dragged, dropped and rearranged. For a recent graduate, the project is – and I don't use this word lightly – breathtaking.

It's hardly a surprise to discover that Kwong is an incoming software engineer at Apple on the Siri Client team. Digging into her projects , HIPHOP – a domain specific language for image processing – brought a smile to my face.

Kwong's site reminded me of a website I built for Bremsstrahlung Recordings in 2002. It's a rare example of a project I did 'for exposure' (i.e. for free) that, for once, paid off. If you're working on a portfolio site redesign, I'm busy writing it up as a case study.

Credit where it's due, to Andy Bell for the original discovery.

Pasta × Architecture

If there was a Venn diagram with overlapping circles representing pasta and architecture, this book (probably alone) would sit at the heart of it. Pasta by Design by George Legendre is an idiosyncratic exploration of the world's favourite food.

Legrande, an architect, has, profiled almost one hundred types of pasta: "Classifying them into types using the science of ‘phylogeny’ (the study of relatedness among natural forms)." (TIL about phylogeny.)

Each spread is dedicated to a single type of pasta and – in addition to notes on its preparation – it's rendered as both a mathematical equation and a line diagram detailing each and every curve and contour.

Hats off to Thames & Hudson for having the chutzpah to publish a paean dedicated to the physics of pasta!