Food for Thought; 10 TED Talks for UX Designers to Heed

Design is deeply ingrained in TED’s DNA. Even the D in TED spells out “design”. From its inception in 1984, TED has been a voice of authority on design inspiration, churning out stellar short talks that make us see our world in a whole new light. UX design in particular has matured in tandem with the TED audience, which is why it hardly comes as a surprise that the non-profit is replete with motivational talks on ways to improve on UX design outcomes and processes. After all, Experience is an expansive, subjective field, influenced by a wide array of factors. What ticks me off can leave you in raptures. We have all found ourselves wondering at times how we experience things around us, how we can craft all the desired experiences, and in turn, how to create experiences that would resonate with others.

TED talks in all their wisdom, offer nuggets of wisdom that UX designers can take away from. From wonderful musings on how to craft a user-focused team to talks on the future of prototyping user interfaces, TED’s online platform has something for every UX innovator and designer to take UX design processes to unprecedented levels. If you are a UX designer on the lookout for some web design principles, fascinatingly creative ideas, stellar design strategies, or out-of-the-box design inspiration, here are some incredible TED talks to rekindle your fire:

  • The first secret of great design – Tony Fadell

Tony Fadell is a designer, entrepreneur, investor and the originator of iPod and the Nest thermostat, who possesses an in-depth knowledge of great design. In this comical, yet enlightening talk, Tony Fadell discusses how noticing the tiniest details can help designers in fabricating a better product. He shares the well-hushed secrets of design and explains how to drive positive changes in design. Through this video, he is trying to push designers to come up with out-of-the-box and mind-numbing design ideas!

  • The three ways that good design makes you happy – Don Norman

In this talk, Don Norman, the director of “The Design Labs” and the author of “Emotional Design”, wants nothing more than to show us how to bridge the chasm between products and their end users. He explains how design can make people feel happy in three ways and highlights three emotional cues that a well-designed product needs to incorporate in order to succeed. According to Norman, his theory of emotions constitutes three important components: reflection, functionality, and beauty. As he says, “pleasant design works better”, he aims to delve in the difference between “outside-the-box” or breadth-first thinking and depth-first thinking which comes into existence when we are anxious or scared. Specific, relatable examples peppered throughout his talk, in addition to hints of humor, makes the video more interesting and engaging till the end.

  • Design is in the Details – Paul Bennett

Paul Bennett, a design expert and chief creative officer at IDEO, beautifully explains in this video how design can help solve overlooked and universal, even minute problems, and doesn’t have to be all about grand gestures. Bennett claims that with empathy at the heart of design, you can transform the ordinary into extraordinary. He explains the concepts behind several fun, different, and captivating products designed by his firm IDEO and the processes his team has capitalized on to design those products. He concludes his talk on a thoughtful note: “Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.”

  1. How Giant Websites Design For You – Margaret Gould Stewart

Margaret Gould Stewart, Facebook’s director of product design, shares some great insights on UX design and explains how even the most seemingly insignificant details can sometimes have a massive impact. Intelligently drawing on the like and share buttons of Facebook, the two most viewed UI elements on earth, as an example of a design on a great scale, she shows how something so small can lead to more than 22 billion impressions a day. She truly believes that one needs humility and audacity in order to design across such a massive scale. She further describes that the most fundamental thing which helps to create a great UX design is to clearly understand the audience you are designing for so that you can improve and evolve your products. With the help of real world examples, she shows you how to design stellar user interfaces for a diverse audience.

  1. Design for All 5 Senses – Jinsop Lee

Jinsop Lee, an industrial designer and founder of a firm “Uncle Oswald is My Hero”, truly believes that great design should appeal to all five senses. He shares his five-sense theory with a handy graph and some great real-life examples. He reflected back on how he started to evaluate every experience of his life with his famous five-senses theory, which has lead him to discover true gems of design.

  • Designers Think Big – Tim Brown

Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO, explains how design has unwittingly shrunk down from the ambitions and skyrocketing aspirations of engineers to modern design centered on fashion, aesthetics, and objects. However design is on its uphill journey once again. He stresses upon the fact that focusing on the small stuff in design is not working anymore and it is high time to make the shift to design thinking, a problem-solving process of testing, rapid prototyping, and listening, to create new human-centric solutions. By giving some inspiring examples of design thinking, Brown highlights the major benefits of thinking big in design.

  • The Complex Relationship Between Data and Design in UX – Rochelle King

Rochelle King – the senior designer at Spotify, explains the process of redesigning a website and shares some best practices for fostering a strong relationship between designers, data, and the target audience. She highlights the importance of data and design and explains why you should leverage these two to create seamless experiences. King highlights all the right questions that designers need to ask if they are looking to extract the pertinent data before stepping a foot in designing. She reflected at how at the launch of each new user interface, she further explores the prototype testing and user research process that takes place at the company. This amazing case study unravels the potential and power of UX design and inculcates in designers the best valuable practices.

  • Reinventing User Experience – Kes Sampanthar

Kes Sampanthar believes that when it comes to creating engaging products, instead of thinking about design and usability, you have to focus on encouraging your users. The design industry can greatly benefit from this motivational design theory of Sampanthar. In his talk, he shares a murder mystery story in the Louvre and some other amusing stories to intelligently explain the psychology behind motivational design and how capitalizing on human pleasure can help you create products that your users will fall for.

  • The Power of Time Off – Stefan Sagmeister

Stefan Sagmeister, a senior graphic designer, shares his experience on how he decided to cut five years from his retirement and how well he spent those years. On the completion of seven years, he shut down his design studio and dedicated another year to his personal projects. He highlights how this time off boosted his creativity and prepared him for his impending paid work phase.

  • The Beauty of Data Visualization – David McCandless

David McCandless is a creative director, designer, and artist. In this TED talk, he explained how good design can completely change the world. He elucidated on how he transformed complex data sets such as Facebook statuses and military spending into simple and beautiful diagrams that gave rise to unseen patterns and connections. He believes that converting complex data into digestible and understandable chunks can do wonders.

Yousuf Rafi

A Caffeine dependent non-mainstream person trying to elevate small talk to medium talk. I know I will win, not immediately but definitely. I do most of the talking in my head. However, for other things, I prefer writing blogs.