The Best User Experience Design Links of 2015

2015 saw Apple’s design criticized, designing beyond the web & mobile screen, even more prototyping tools (including sneak peeks from Adobe), and it seemed everyone started UX podcasts.

I went back and looked at all the stats of past UX Design Weekly issues — over three thousand links and many more that didn’t quite make the cut — and pulled out the most popular user experience design articles, tools, resources and media from the past year based on clicks and shares.

Here’s a look at the year in user experience design with the best UX links for 2015:

Disney’s Magicband is the Best UX Design of the Decade
If you want an amazing user experience, go to Disney World in Orlando where there is no need to carry cash, maps, or tickets, hosts greet you by name, food arrives anywhere you sit, wait times for rides are minimized and more — all through a magical wristband.

9 Pieces of UX Advice I Stole From People Smarter Than Me
Some secrets and strategies that Spencer Lanooue learned from world-class designers.

How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name
Don Norman and Bruce Tognazzini make the case about how Apple has sacrificed user-centered design principles for beauty, and it’s causing their software to be confusing.

One Magic Formula to Calculate User Experience?
Wouter de Bres tries to uncover the many factors that play a role in user experience and if there is a formula to calculate what the UX of your product is.

Design User Research Explained for Everyone with Animated GIFs
Here’s 5 tips for design research to build empathy with the users and help define the overall experience.

How To Become A UX Leader
Some solid advice by Robert Hoekman Jr. about how to get what you want and be great at leading UX.

If You Do Nothing Else: DIY UX Research Tips
Some practical tips when doing UX research in-house on a budget. For more tips, I recommend Steve Krug’s Rocket Surgery Made Easy.

Prototyping Tools and Process
An in-depth look into the tools and prototyping process of design teams behind some of today’s most well designed products including Medium, Airbnb, Uber, Apple, Eventbrite, Pinterest and more.

The best icon is a text label
Icons are great when there is a universal meaning that everyone understands but most aren’t clear without context. To have clarity, use a label.

Figuring Out Your Design Decision Style
How does your team make design decisions? Jared Spool writes about different design decision styles and the impact of each.

Showing Passwords on Log-In Screens
Microsoft, Adobe, Twitter, LinkedIn, PayPal, Amazon and more show passwords on their log-in screen. Luke Wroblewski writes about why and how to show passwords and what’s coming next.

The Experience Makes the Product, Not the Features
Focus on your app’s core experience and user needs and not adding features to create a compelling user experience.

Why Product Thinking is the next big thing in UX Design
Thinking in products gives designers the advantage of building the right features for the right people.

What Is Zero UI? (And Why Is It Crucial To The Future Of Design?)
What will user interfaces look like when screens go away and how to design the user experience.

So you want to be an IA?
Solid advice from Abbey Covert for those that want to be an information architect.

12 Fascinating Projects From the Bleeding Edge of Interaction Design
A look at the new kinds of devices scientists and designers are prototyping for the future.

Becoming a More Thoughtful User Experience Designer
The difference between creating good experiences and amazing experiences often comes down to how thoughtful we can remain during the design process.

Why It’s Totally Okay to Use a Hamburger Icon
Steven Hoober writes on the use of menu icons today, how they have become ubiquitous on mobile devices, and how some of the current thinking about them is wrong.

The Future of Design in Technology
10 predictions of where design will be in 10 years from Julie Zhuo, Product Design Director at Facebook.

The Next Big Thing In Design? Less Choice
Aaron Shapiro, CEO of Huge, writes about the next big breakthrough in design: products, services, and experiences that eliminate the needless choices from our lives and make ones on our behalf.

Marissa Mayer’s New Rule For App Design
Three rules from Yahoo’s CEO that anyone can use to make their app better — the two tap rule, the 5-point rule, and the 98% rule.

Facebook’s UX Master Offers Some Must-Reads
Facebook’s director of product design, Margaret Gould Stewart shares her must-read books and articles about design and designing at a global scale.

Keyboard Smörgåsbord
An in-depth critique of the keyboard on iOS, followed by a set of aesthetic guidelines for the coherent visual design of software keyboards.

Fast Path to a Great UX — Increased Exposure Hours
Jared Spool writes there is a direct correlation between the time team’s are exposed to real users interacting with their design and the improvements in the designs that team produces.

The Art of Iterating Quickly
How Feedly organizes their design process to absorb, structure and integrate as much feedback as possible while iterating efficiently.

Emotional Intelligence in Design
As UX designers, we design with the best intentions but sometimes things can go terribly wrong. Beth Dean, designer at Facebook, writes that we need to start designing our products to be aware of emotions.

The Illusion of Time
Time is the most valuable and limited resource we have. Adrian Zumbrunnen writes about how time perception shapes user experience.

Designing Twitter Video
A long but good read on the design, prototyping and research process behind Twitter Video.

God is in the details
The details that take a product from good to great are time consuming, hard to define and scope but Buzz Usborne, UX Director at Campaign Monitor, offers up a few places where you can start looking for improvement in your own projects.

13 UX Mistakes Explained in GIFs
Next time someone creates one of these UX mistakes, just send them one of these reaction GIFs.

Rethinking Mobile Tutorials: Which Patterns Really Work?
5 rules for creating effective mobile tutorials — use less text, don’t frontload, make it fun, reinforce learning through play, and listen to your players.

Embracing Uncertainty in UX Research
Matt Gallivan, UX Researcher at AirBnB, write that if you’re a UX researcher, you do yourself and your field no favors when you claim to have all of the answers.

The Paradox of Empathy
Scott Jenson writes that empathy is a vague concept that isn’t strongly appreciated by others and while it leads to big, important insights, it usually starts with small steps.

Design Details: Instagram for iOS
A detailed look at the design of one of the most popular photo apps with lots of subtle use of motion and microinteractions.

Great Design Portfolios Are Great Stories
Simon Pan, gives advice on how to tell the story behind your work.

How to Give Better Product Feedback
The best feedback is the one most likely to create empathy and elicit product change. Cemre Güngör, product deisgner at Facebook, offers some tips to give better feedback.

In Design, Empathy is Not Enough
Dan Saffer writes that empathy will get you to see the problems from the users’ perspective, but to solve the problem you have to understand.

So, you’re going to be a user researcher: top tips to get you going
An awesome list of books, articles, and tips for those getting into user research.

How to Fix a Bad User Interface
Scott Hurff breaks down the rules of the UI Stack and the five states that help you create a cohesive interface that’s forgiving, helpful, and human.

Look and Feel and Feel
Jason Fried, Founder & CEO at Basecamp compares the experience of how Twitter and Instagram make him feel and the feeling we should design for.

Spatial Interfaces
Pasquale D’Silva explores thinking inside and outside the bounds of the screen to design a spatial interface.

One of the Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made in My Career
Former Lead Designer on Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign, Andrei Herasimchuck, reflects on the age old question — should designers in tech learn how to code? For the other side of the argument, check out Designers Should Design, Coders Should Code.

Designing Live for Facebook Mentions
I love write-ups like this where we see design decisions, challenges, and iterations when designing a feature — especially for a product like Facebook, with such a large user base.

The Principles of UX Choreography
5 principles on how to captivate your audience and how they interact with your story.

How Google Finally Got Design
A look into Google’s transformation into a company that creates beautiful software in the mobile era.

6 Tips for Designing Happiness
The secret to consumer loyalty is less about the moment of interaction and more about what comes before and after.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do
Great advice for students of UX that are looking to get into the business by Dan Brown.

This Is All Your App Is: a Collection of Tiny Details
Getting the details right is the difference between something that delights, and something customers tolerate.

Good Design
What makes a good design? Julie Zhuo writes about an early design lesson and something she still thinks about all the time.

Don’t Be a User Research Robot
Giving recommendations that the team should focus on and being personal when doing user research are two tips Chuck Liu thinks you should always do.

In Search of the Design Documentation Unicorn
There isn’t a single best resource for documenting designs and design decisions but Dan Brown provides some ways to better communicate ideas and work with stakeholders and engineers.

The Nine States of Design
Here is a great checklist by Vince Speelman of various states to keep in mind when designing components of an interface.

Usability Test on Product Hunt for iPhone
Eric Lee, Product Designer at Tradecraft, conducted a usability test on the Product Hunt app and provided a nice look at his process, findings, and redesign.

A Behavioral Approach to Product Design
Changing behavior is hard. Aaron Otani writes about the four steps to designing products that impact behavior.

This Is How You Design Your Mobile App for Maximum Growth
Your userbase will never cease evolving so your product shouldn’t either. Kamo Asatryan shares formulas he relies on to help mobile apps optimize their entire user funnel, counterintuitive lessons and mistakes he’s learned on the job.

A Little Empathy Goes a Long Way
One of the many characteristics of a UX designer is empathy. This is a guide for an easy way to understand and apply empathy better.

Designer’s Toolkit: Prototyping Tools
Cooper made a handy sort and filter tool to help you find the best prototyping tool for the job.

UX Recipe
A checklist where you discover, choose and estimate your next UX project tools & techniques.

The Only UX Reading List Ever
A recommended reading list of 60 books you should read by Simon Pan to learn or deepen your knowledge in all things UX.

Figma
A collaborative web tool for user interface design that allows for many simultaneous users to design together. This one has a lot of potential.

Design Research Techniques
Huge online repository of design techniques throughout a project lifecycle

18F Design Method Cards
A collection of research and design practices that we use to better understand and serve the users of our products.

Capptivate for iOS
Capptivate is a curated collection of app animations. I wrote about the website in a past issue and now they just released their complete collection of app animation videos for your iPhone.

U.S. Web Design Standards
Open source UI components and visual style guide to create consistency and beautiful user experiences across U.S. federal government websites. Read more about the process and how you can help.

Project Comet
One UX design tool to rule them all? Design and prototoype websites and apps with this all-in-one tool. It looks like it has a lot of potential.

Facebook Design Resources
A collection of free resources made by designers at Facebook including an iOS 9 template for both Photoshop and Sketch.

What Kind of Design Work Should I do?
A flow chart for designers wondering what project should they take on, where they should work or what should their career look like.

Mobile Touch Overlay
Free touch overlays for use in your favorite wireframe or mockup tool based on research about how people see, hold and touch their mobile phones and tablets.

UX Community on Slack
Join UXers from around the world to discuss user experience in this lively Slack channel.

Principle
A new tool for Mac to create animated and interactive user interface designs. It looks like it has a lot of potential.

Wake
A private space to share and discuss design work with your team.

User Flow Patterns
A nice, growing collection of short user flow videos.

Mastering Sketch 3
A comprehensive guide to designing in Sketch.

Use Your Interface
A growing library of transitional interface and interaction design patterns to help you inspire and communicate your UI ideas with people.

User Interfaces IO
A daily delightful curation of user interface animations.

UX Reactions
UX related reactions in the form of animated GIFs.

Atomic
Atomic launched this year and looks to be a promising tool to design, prototype and share beautiful interactions.

Pixate Studio
Google acquired Pixate and now Pixate Studio is free.

Design in Tech Report 2015
John Maeda highlights the rising importance of design and says the most successful tech companies of the future will be design companies.

Empathy is Everything
A collection of research, articles, stories, practices, exercises and other resources on empathy by Whitney Hess.

U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015
Lots of great data on smartphone use. If you don’t have time to read the whole report, at least read the sidebar for the key themes.

Prototyping with Framer
Step-by-step tutorials to learn how to prototype interactions with Framer.

UI Haus
A showcase of the best mobile app designs ever made.

Empty States
Delight users by designing the empty states.

Interaction15
Talks and panels from Interaction15, held in San Francisco in February 2015.

How to Make Sense of Any Mess
Abby Covert’s amazing book on information architecture is available online, for free.

UI Talks
A collection of UX design related conference talks all in one place.

UX Week 2015
Videos from Adaptive Path’s UX Week 2015 have been uploaded. See talks from Leah Buley, Abby Covert, Erin Hoffman and more.

Uideo
Over 300 videos for designers from over 40 conferences.

This is the golden age of design! …and we’re screwed
Make some time and watch this talk by Mike Monteiro at Webdagene 2015 about designers, their importance and mentors.

Dollars to Donuts
A new podcast by Steve Portigal. In the first episode, he talks with Gregg Bernstien, Researcher for MailChimp, about how MailChimp uses research to uncover new product opportunities.

The Design Details
Another new podcast about the people who design our favorite products hosted by Bryn Jackson and Brian Lovin.

The UX Reader
An ebook from Mailchimp’s UX team of their most popular articles along with some exclusive content. It used to be a $5 donation but now they have made it free.


For last year’s list, check out The Best User Experience Design Links of 2014.

Do you have any links you loved that I missed? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter (@kennycheny) and check out UX Design Weekly — a hand picked list, curated list of the best user experience design links every week, published and delivered to your inbox every week for free.