10 Awesome UX Design Podcasts

If you are new to Podcasts or have already discovered this amazing technology for design literacy already.

I’ll admit there are a large number of podcast episodes framed to showcase content authors on a book tour, but the nuances of communication unlocked by longer conversations surface some often greater insights beyond the usual scope of Tweets, Medium articles, and books. I strongly recommend you give the following shows a try if you’re interested in the conversation surrounding UX/UI Design and business.

High Resolution

Design thinking and product design discussions with design and business leaders.

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UI Breakfast

Practical interview with cutting edge and inspiring designers, developers, researchers and business leaders. Great way of finding inspiring work, products and workflows from talented people.

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Design Matters

Debbie Millman asks industry leaders smart questions about their process, workflow, and experience.

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User Defenders

The host teases our great stories from epic designer guests. Production quality and use of time are both impressive.

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Method Podcast

Huge variety of design topics covered by Google in this podcast. Great way to stay up to date with the most cutting edge best practices and perspectives in design today.

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DesignBetter.co Podcast

Cool conversations with design and business leaders with emphasis on organization and leadership concepts.

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A Responsive Web Design Podcast

Karen McGrane and Ethan Marcotte get into project workflow details and valuable lessons learned following impressive responsive website redesign projects. Bummer this podcast had to end–some great insight especially regarding content strategy and design system interplay.

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O’Reilly Design Podcast

Always relevant and future thinking interviews and Q&A with cutting edge designers. Good way to find new inspiring people to follow.

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Invision Design Talks (YouTube)

Super relevant discussions from Invision whose content (like their products) is always well thought and a great use of time. Audio versions of these talks are available through some podcast apps.

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5 Great Design Books for Your UX Library

Starting a UX library in your studio? Here’s a list of some of my favorite UX books and a few key takeaways. Enjoy!

A Project Guide to UX Design

By Carolyn Chandler, Russ Unger

There are a ton of well-reviewed books and readers for the general UX practitioner available. However, this one still stands out on my shelf as a great primer to get your head around UX for most projects. The project guide illustrates how UX Design connects multiple design disciplines including business strategy, research, interaction design, and engineering.

Explore Book (GoodReads)

Now, Discover Your Strengths

By Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton

I first learned of this book listening to a video blog from UX designer, Sarah Doody. The book is a well researched albeit prescriptive method devised to make you aware of your innate professional talents and intuitions and learn how to best harness them in the workplace. Arguably, It's most sustainable to build your career around your natural superpowers and curiosities above pure ambition and will. Check out this book and accompanying assessment (worth it) and you might be enlightened.

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Lean UX

By Jeff Gothelf

An extension to the canonical book, The Lean Startup, Lean UX provides an ultra-concise, principled overview of UX Design’s role in agile projects. It also provides thoughtful, sustainable action steps for integrating the lean approach to organizations of various shapes and sizes.


Few of my favorite takeaways:

  • Progress = outcomes, not output.

  • Create the first version of the thing rather than spending half the day debating its merits in a conference room.

  • Emphasize learning first and scaling second.

  • Figure out what you’re trying to learn, and the fastest way you can learn it.

  • Created a shared understanding of design problems and solutions.

  • Collaborate: creating together increases the design IQ of the entire team.

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Everybody Writes

By Ann Handley

The more screens I design, the more I appreciate the value of written communication as a digital designer’s skillset. Understanding the people who use the product your designing should include comprehending how to communicate with them naturally, contextually and with relevance to their needs through the business lens. This book will help you write with intention and consistency for the web and in business communication in general. I picked up this book up on a whim and am so glad I did. 

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Universal Methods of Design

By Bella Martin, Bruce M. Hanington

100 design techniques to try when approaching a design challenge. Concise summary of each method and good perspective on usage.

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Conclusion

Tangible books may be a slowly dying technology as digital formats take over. Thankfully, all of these titles are available in digital format. Either way you prefer to read, I suggest taking notes in the margins of books or on sticky notes. And once you’ve completed any great book, try synthesizing your notes to help a friend or colleague understand a few of the most valuable highlights. Educating someone else is a great way to retain newly gathered information.

Happy Reading!

UX Design and Ego

It's important to remember the best design wisdom may come from anyone on your project team. And the best way to empathize with the users you design for is to understand where your ego starts and stops as a designer and thinker. It's easy to make biased design decisions based on your own, albeit compelling perspectives that may not be relevant. 

Good discussion of ego and professionalism on the Love Your Work podcast.

"The strength of our ego boundaries is the result of each properly resolved developmental crisis." 
- John Bradshaw
"Innovation is the state once drama is gone."
- Cy Wakeman

 

 

Design and the Gig Economy

Creating this post as a reminder that what we design solves business and customer problems–but it can also negatively impact real lives. This is especially apparent in exciting startups in the gig economy space. It's important to think deeply about the impact our design innovation and mission might have on humanity.

“As the gig economy grows, so too does the danger that engineers, in attempting to build the most efficient systems, will chop and dice jobs into pieces so dehumanized that our legal system will no longer recognize them.”

Read: “What Have We Done?”: Silicon Valley Engineers Fear They've Created A Monster

 

 

What's a User Experience Audit?

A UX audit is an analysis report involving a strategic design inventory exercise and documented list of critical design opportunities to improve a product's user experience. These 8 factors are important to consider. You can use tools such as Capian, Invision, or Google Docs to create and present annotated screenshots to support your reader's comprehension of the audit. Tip: Checkout PageMarker (Chrome Extension) for any easy way to circle, cross out and draw arrows quickly over the browser window before taking your screenshot.

 

1. Quantitative Data

  • What features or content might be a problem today according to analytics?

2. Qualitative Data

  • What heuristic or user-validated insights gan you gather to assess the current state of design?

3. Accessibility

  • Find out what WCAG standards does the client or organization need to abide by? 

4. Interactive Pain Points

  • What touchpoints are broken, confusing, difficult, etc.?

5. Information Architecture

  • Analyze your products' content to recommend action steps toward better ways to organize, surface, and tag all the information that's supports user journey and business goals.

6. Branding Violations

  • Assess the organization's brand styleguide to call out any ways in which the product breaks brand rules.

7. Performance

  • Run performance testing tools to identify steps to improve site speed and extended use.

8. Recommendations

  • Write actionable steps to resolve (or further investigate) those important product issues and opportunities you identified in the steps above. 

4 Qualities of a Good Architect

Visionary architect Gae Aulenti finds these 4 traits most critical to a great architect. IMO, this is just as applicable to the design profession.

1. Analytic talent

Know how to study and recognize every different kind of architecture, to create unique, specific solutions with respect to their context, their foundation place.

2. Synthetic talent

Know how to make the necessary synthesis to give priority to the major architectural principles, to disregard what is arbitrary in a project.

3. Prophetic capacity

Embrace the art, poetry, and aspiration for invention for your project.

4. Awareness

Surface and understand Biases.

7 Best Practices for building a Design System

  • Do the UI inventory first.
  • Discover top 10 components to address, and stick to those.
  • Make type clear and accessible. 
  • Use color, illustration and shape for creative expression.
  • Check typefaces and all UI elements on non retina and retina devices.
  • Checkout Salesforce lightning framework for inspiration.
  • Design systems are principally for for the agency’s internal design and engineering teams’ organization for design consistency. Your client cares more about the page mockups and how those modules look together for important pages in the funnel.

Design is a Job

Here are a few anecdotes from an amazing book I picked up called, Design is a Job (Dan Brown). It's a concise, and powerful jolt of wisdom and philosophy that's relevant to any designer working today. Get the book here.

Some key points: 

  • While working constantly ask yourself why am i doing this and who benefits
  • Dont work in a bubble for too long:
  • No tasks longer than 2 weeks
  • Pull in other team members to validate your progress direction.
  • Instead of 1, 12 week project, go for 12, 1 week projects when estimating/scoping projects.
  • Prioritize lists visually and keep it concise or you'll lose motivation.
  • Make more small choices/decisions, its easier when you're wrong.
  • Don't copy competitors. Establish your value props against them. 
  • Be proud about providing less, especially if you’re a small business. It can be easier and more quality focused.
  • Build an audience by teaching them stuff! Be Informative and educational over promotional. It will create more loyalty.
  • Be genuine in all you do. Imperfections can foster real connection.
  • Writing is today's currency for good ideas. Hire the person who can write better (no matter what job it is).
  • Don't try to hide or spin bad news to your customers—the truth will eventually surface anyway.
  • If you Apologize, accept responsibility, explain your actions to prevent it occurring next time. Think how you'd feel if you were given 'that' apology.
  • Get back to people quickly. Answer personally.
  • "Culture is the byproduct of consistent behavior." Don’t force culture.
  • If you're small company don't be afraid to sound 'small' in your tone of voice.
  • Write to be read. Keep personality.
  • Save emergency language for real emergencies!

Get the book here.