From 226 to 10 — my favourite 10* Design reads of 2016

In a quiet moment last week, I took a moment to wade through my browser tabs (all 226 of them) and reflect on the articles from 2016 that I had read over and over again. These are the ones that have stuck in my mind, that have helped me crystallize my own thoughts, that have pushed my thinking in new directions.


7 tips to create high functioning design teams (Part 1 & 2), Alastair Simpson, Medium

4 years ago Atlassian had 6 designers. Fast forward to today and the design team numbers 106. Building and managing a design team of this size is one thing, integrating it successfully into a traditionally engineering led organisation is another.

Designing Inward, Cap Watkins

We talk a lot in our industry about using design methodologies to get more in touch with our users, to find out what they think and how they feel about our products. But it’s equally important to turn that lens inward every once in awhile and to get in touch with each other, to find out what we think and how we’re feeling about working together, to improve our collective user experience.

Customer-centered is the optimal org model in a world of services, Peter Merholz, Org Design for Design Orgs (and the book of the same name)

As companies embrace what it means to be a service firm, they understand that what’s most important is the healthy maintenance of that customer relationship. And so they realize they need to move away from old methods of organizing that were anathema to a customer’s end-to-end experience, and towards customer-centrism.

Unintuitive Lessons on Being a Designer, Julie Zhou, Medium

There is nothing that feels so human as realizing that who we are today is not who we were yesterday, and will not be who we are tomorrow. It is this process of looking back that I savor like a sweet-toother with a prize-winning pastry. I can still crisply recall the ways I used to think, the views I used to hold, and see how they have morphed through the years, sometimes slowly, sometimes as swift and suddenly as a storm.

The Myth of Invisible Design, Dan Saffer, Medium

One of the most persistent myths in design is that “the best designs are invisible.” There have even been books written about how to make your design more invisible, claiming the best UI is no UI. All of these seem to spring from the Don’t Make Me Think school, where usability and efficiency are the highest values we can achieve in design. While these are certainly important,products should be as visible as they need to be. There are thousands — nay, millions — of examples of beautiful, visible designs.

The dangers of delightful design, John Saito, Medium

When you think of delightful things, you might think of things that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Stuffed animals. Cupcakes. Hugs.

But delightful things can have negative side effects. A silly joke can offend you. A clever ad can mislead you. A cute sound effect can drive you nuts.

In the world of design, we often praise delightful details. But as you’ll soon see, delightful details can sometimes get you into trouble.

Designing with Kindness, Eric Meyer, UX Booth

Kindness and compassion aren’t words we often use to describe the heart of what we do, but they need to be. The more people come into contact with our work, and the more personal their interactions with our work, the more important this will become. As Kurt Vonnegut said, there’s only one rule: “You’ve got to be kind.”

UX Strategy for Design Leadership: A 4-Step Guide, Dave Malouf, UXPin

If you’re a design leader, you can’t make assumptions and expect to reach your goals.

Making a case for letter case, John Saito, Medium

If you write for an app or website, you should care. A little thing like capitalization can actually be a big deal. Capitalization affects readability, comprehension, and usability. It even impacts how people view your brand.


And a couple of bonuses…

Org Design for Design Orgs — Building and Managing In-House Design Teams, Peter Merholz & Kristin Skinner, O’Reilly

I’ve read and re-read this book. Peter and Kristin confirm a lot of my own fledgling thoughts around the future structure of design teams, and have challenged me to broaden my thinking even further.

Make Meaningful Work — from sleepwalking to sparkle, Dan Szuc and Jo Wong, Apogee

A conversation over dumplings, a flurry of shared links, and an opening of my own eyes to the weight of expectations on people’s working lives.

How can we make routines to contribute to the intention of wellness for people, work, projects, communities and economies for an enlightened future society? How can we make meaningful work?

I hope you find the time in coming weeks to enjoy these articles as much as I did, and if there’s any of import that I’ve missed, please send them my way.

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