The Best User Experience Design Links of 2016

Conversational UI. Design leadership. Invisible design. These were just some of the many UX themes and trends we saw this year.

I went back and looked at the past UX Design Weekly issues, analyzed the thousands of UX articles, tools, resources, and media that I curated during the year, and pulled out the best of the best based on what readers were reading, talking about, and sharing.

Here’s a look at the year in user experience design with the best UX links from 2016.


The Future of Design: When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It
Don Norman writes that whether it is design as a craft or design as a way of thinking, core principles underlie the power of all design.

How to apply a design thinking, HCD, UX or any creative process from scratch
A how-to article to set up, frame, organize, structure, run or manage design challenges, and projects.

Defining Product Design
Alex Schleifer, VP of Design at Airbnb, writes about ways to proactively create a design-friendly organization and redesign design.

Digital Product Design Principles
Twelve design principles Wouter de Bres wrote for his team to help make design decisions.

Nobody Wants To Use Your Product
The ultimate goal for any product is to be completely removed from the user’s perspective.

8 habits of veteran UX designers
Everything from understanding real life context and planning for failure.

Is this the perfect save icon?
The majority of kids these days don’t know what a floppy disc is so is the common save icon the best way to communicate this?

Good UX designers must be fighters
Andrew Doherty, product designer at Google, gives tips on how to fight for your designs.

All Talk and No Buttons: The Conversational UI
A two part series on designing for applications that no longer have a graphical user interface.

Four Things Great Designers Care About
All great designers care about people, the craft, the why, and authenticity.

The Myths of UX Design
A rant on the role of UX design by Christina Wodtke.

8 Unintuitive Lessons on Being a Designer
Julie Zhuo reflects back about what she has learned the past decade and offers advice to grow.

The Veil of Ignorance
Don’t design for yourself and your perfect eyesight, retina screens, and fast internet connection. Imagine a world where you are not who you are right now.

In Search of the Ultimate User Experience
The next evolution of UX: the human experience.

Why I love ugly, messy interfaces — and you probably do too
In some cases, a cluttered interface does an incredible job of solving their users’ problems.

Design for Humanity
An interactive essay exploring the past, present, and future of anthropomorphic design.

How To Take Charge Of A UX Kickoff Meeting
A look at how to run a useful kickoff meeting by asking the right questions and shaping the conversation.

Getting Started with Wireframes
A primer on what you need to know about wireframes, why and how you should use them in your workflow.

Product as Hero Storyboard
Use this simple story structure to place your product or service in context of a real problem when trying to design a meaningful product customers will love.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Designing Micro-interactions
Even with no animation experience, it’s possible to design and build beautiful, clean micro-interactions by focusing on a few key concepts.

Never Show A Design You Haven’t Tested On Users
How user testing impacts stakeholder communication and how we can ensure testing is built into your design projects

Let’s Stop Doing Research*
The problem with design research and why we need evidence-based design.

The UX of Learning UX is Broken
Dan Maccarone and Sarah Doody explain what’s wrong with today’s UX education and why you can’t become a UX designer in a week, or even twelve.

Your brain does not process information and it is not a computer
A long essay on the human brain that Alan Cooper wishes every IxD would read.

Why you don’t need design like Apple
Telling a good, authentic story creates a connection and trust that is more important than making something pretty

On Icons
Balancing the rational and the emotional choice of labels vs icons.

The Big Problem with Design Inspiration
We seek inspiration when really we look for existing solutions. Tanner Christensen, Product Designer at Facebook, writes that we need to put in the work.

7 Problems Growing Design Teams Face
Aarron Walter writes about the common problems every design leader faces.

Crafting The First Mile Of Product
If you want to build a product that millions of people can use, you must defy the tendency to prioritize the core product at the expense of the “first mile.”

How to get value from wireframes
How approaching wireframes differently made them more useful for Dustin Senos, former head of design at Medium.

Metrics Versus Experience
Understand data and what is a good metric to make better experiences for people everywhere.

The UX Secret That Will Ruin Apps For You
Apps like Facebook slow down their interface by design to make users feel safe.

Nine Nasty UX Truths
Truths about design, process, and coders.

Design Is Mainly About Empathy
We need to invest in understanding a user’s mental model or it’s going to be really hard to know if our work is successful.

Peek Inside a Facebook Design Critique
A look into how design critiques at Facebook typically go, makes for a good critique and what can often get in the way.

Stop the overuse of overflow menus
Overflow menus seem like the perfect solution to “take away” complexity but you’re just obstructing it and don’t actually take anything away.

How To Make Your Not-So-Great Visual Design Better
A framework on how to get better at visual design from Jasmine Friedl, product designer at Facebook.

7 Rules Driving the Psychology Behind Great Product Design
One of the most important ways we have to design around the human psychology of flow.

Design and the Self
Irene Au’s talk from UX Week 2016 about designing great products by going beyond things like fear, greed, attachment, and ego.

WTF is Experience Design?
An explanation of what is experience design with examples and GIFs.

How to design words
Designing words for people who hate to read (ie everyone on the web).

Reducing Cognitive Overload For A Better User Experience
The best user experience is the one the user doesn’t notice. A look at some complicated and confusing interfaces and ways to solve it.

Chatbots: Your Ultimate Prototyping Tool
How chatbots can teach us to learn what people need when designing products and services.

Understanding your users’ mental model
If you want to understand how someone thinks your product works, give them a pencil and ask them to draw you a diagram.

Figma VS Sketch
A comparison of the two tools from Meng To and which one you should use.

Google’s Immaterial Design
Google’s vision for interfaces is the spoken word and not graphic or material.

Interaction Design is dead. What now?
Ralph Ammer writes that we need to move past designing for isolation towards design for relations with others and the environment.

Get the most out of your research with storytelling
Storytelling can transform something that sits on your colleague’s desk collecting dust into insights your team can really empathize with

Don’t Defend Your Work
Designers are much better off when they focus on collaborating, listening, and asking questions.

Your Best Work Will Be Invisible
The most important thing about design is everything that takes place behind the scenes.


Want more oldies but goodies? Check out The Best User Experience Design Links of 2015 and 2014.

What will 2017 bring in the world of UX? 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 curated list of the best user experience design links every week, published and delivered to your inbox every week for free.