“The ’80s: UX Edition” — A UX-Inspired ‘80s Mixtape

“Members Only” Jackets, Mullets and New Wave

Forget Keith Haring tees and fanny packs for a second, the ’80s saw the release of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album, Bros’ debut album “Push” went seven-time platinum, and “Gangsta Rap” emerged onto the scene. It was an iconic decade for music. Although I only lived through half of it, I’m more than making up for lost time!

While listening to Absolute 80s on the drive to work the other week, I found myself thinking about tech innovation in the ’80s. From the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to IBM’s first Personal Computer (the 5150) — and the Atari Touch Tablet. I wondered what tracks might have inspired those working on the design of these products.

That then triggered this genius idea to create a UX-focused ’80s playlist! A series of tracks, which underpin the opportunities and challenges we face as UX professionals — everything from stakeholder management to storytelling, usability testing to using your imagination — all while celebrating the diversity of the ’80s, with the resurgence in heavy metal and the birth of synth-pop and new wave.

With a little help from my friends on LinkedIn and Twitter, I’ve created a playlist worthy of a shout out on GTA Vice City’s “Flash FM”. Don’t panic. There’s no Milli Vanilli or Rick Astley-esque “fillers” here.

I’ve even found the perfect track for those involved in Ethnographic Research… “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by The Police 😋

Without further ado, (in no particular order) here’s your rundown of the Top 40 UX-inspired hits of the ’80s!

Please Note: There is one track deemed to contain ‘Explicit Lyrics’, in Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story”. With his literate, winding narratives, Slick Rick is a master of storytelling, so at least one of his tracks had to feature!


“The ’80s: UX Edition” Spotify Playlist

“The ’80s: UX Edition” Spotify Playlist by The UX Chap

1. “Human” by The Human League (1986)


2. “Land of Confusion” by Genesis (1986)


3. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister (1984)


4. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2 (1987)


5. “Hip To Be Square” by Huey Lewis & The News (1986)


6. “Don’t Get Me Wrong” by The Pretenders (1986)


7. “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper (1986)


8. “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell (1984)


9. “Dr Beat” by Miami Sound Machine (1984)


10. “We Care A Lot” by Faith No More (1985)


11. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds (1985)


12. “Kick” by INXS (1987)


13. “Let’s Go Round Again” by Average White Band (1980)


14. “Sweet Little Mystery” by Wet Wet Wet (1987)


15. “Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles (1980)


16. “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake (1982)


17. “She Drives Me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals (1989)


18. “Private Eyes” by Daryl Hall & John Oates (1981)


19. “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson (1987)


20. “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by The Police (1980)


21. “We Close Our Eyes” by Go West (1985)


22. “If She Knew What She Wants” by The Bangles (1986)


23. “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears for Fears (1985)


24. “Criticize” by Alexander O’Neal (1987)


25. “Everything Counts” by Depeche Mode (1983)


26. “My Ever Changing Moods” by The Style Council (1984)


27. “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Phil Collins (1982)


28. “One Vision” by Queen (1985)


29. “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats (1983)


30. “Everytime You Go Away” by Paul Young (1985)


31. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey (1981)


32. “You’re The Voice” by John Farnham (1986)


33. “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” by The Clash (1982)


34. “Keep On Movin’” by Soul II Soul (1989)


35. “Is There Something I Should Know?” by Duran Duran (1981)


36. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar (1980)


37. “Perfect” by Fairground Attraction (1988)


38. “Ask” by The Smiths (1986)


39. “(Something Inside) So Strong” by Labi Siffre (1987)


40. “Children’s Story” by Slick Rick [EXPLICIT] (1988)


That’s All We Have Time for This Week…

So there you have it. My UX ’80s hit parade. The only thing missing is a couple of C90 cassette tapes and a Sony Walkman!

Thank you again to all those who contributed suggestions. Much appreciated.

Be sure to follow the playlist and share alike. I may even add a few bonus tracks to it too! And keep an eye out for other UX-inspired playlists, covering the ’60s, ’70s, ’90s and ’00s, which I’ll be looking to compile, in the coming weeks!

One Last Thing…

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