UX influencers can be a great source of learning and inspiration. Following them is an excellent way to keep abreast of industry trends, hear different perspectives and insights, and gain motivation for your own UX career.
So who should you be following in 2023? We’ve put together a list of noteworthy UX influencers, recommended for their insights, content and contributions to the UX community.
Kim Goodwin has been doing user research and design for 25 years, and is the current VP of User Experience at Woebot Health. She has recently consulted seed stage startups to some of the largest companies in the world. Her range of experience has positioned her as an authoritative voice in the field.
She has shared this wisdom in her best-selling book ‘Designing for the Digital Age’. It’s a comprehensive look at the entire design process. It’s one of those professional books that you will keep coming back to.
Follow her on Twitter for a rounded view of the industry. She’s interested in diversity in tech as well as UX leadership and practice.
See: ‘Organization as Designed System’ (inUseExp, Stockholm, 2019)
Read: ‘Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services’ (Wiley, 2009)
The ‘lean’ buzzword is not leaving the tech world anytime soon, and for good reason. Many of the largest SaaS companies in the world use this methodology to grow and deliver fast results. Jeff Gothelf introduced the concept of lean UX when he published ‘Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams’ in 2013.
Since then, Jeff has published several books including ‘Sense and Respond’ (2017), ‘Lean vs. Agile vs. Design Thinking’ (2017) and, most recently, ‘Forever Employable’ (2020).
In his latest book, ‘Forever Employable’, Jeff shares all the tips, tricks, and learnings that helped him build his personal brand. This is a must-read in the pursuit of personal and professional fulfillment.
Jeff’s insights are especially relevant for UX professionals working in ambitious startups or those who simply want to build a fulfilling, sustainable career.
Jeff has also led design teams at TheLadders and Web Trends.
See: ‘How to Use the Lean UX Canvas’ (2021)
Read: ‘Forever Employable: How to Stop Looking for Work and Let Your Next Job Find You’ (Gothelf Corp., 2020)
As well as being the co-founder of Mule Design, Erika Hall has written two authoritative UX books: ‘Just Enough Research’ (Now in its second edition) and ‘Conversational Design’.
‘Just Enough Research’ should be a staple on any UX student or professional’s bookshelf as a reminder that user research is paramount. Poor user research equals poor user experiences.
‘Conversational Design’ is her newest book. Again, it points out that humans are central to design. It looks at how language influences the overall user experience.
See: ‘Getting User Experience and Service Design Research Right at Scale’ (Service Design Network Dallas Chapter, 2021)
Read: ‘Just Enough Research’ (A Book Apart, 2013); ‘Conversational Design’ (A Book Apart, 2018)
Dan Saffer is currently the Director of Product Design at Flipboard. He previously worked as Senior Staff Product Designer at Twitter, working on AI/ML projects and New Customer Onboarding. Since he started working in design in 1995, he has designed different products, from websites to robots. Millions of people have enjoyed the products he has made. He has also written numerous UX books.
His latest book ‘Microinteractions’ outlines why small details can be the difference between a good and outstanding product. It offers practical advice and real-life examples that you can apply to your own UX practice.
Read: Dan’s regular learnings and insights on Medium
Jared Spool is one of the biggest and most recognisable names in UX. He has worked in the field of usability and design since 1978, before the term “usability” was ever associated with computers. He is a writer, researcher, speaker, educator and an expert in usability, software, design and research.
He is the founder of User Interface Engineering, a consulting firm specialising in website and product usability, which just happens to be the largest usability research organisation of its kind in the world. He is also co-founder of Center Centre, a school dedicated to training industry-ready UX designers.
See: Jared’s collection of UX talks
Read: Jared’s Medium posts
Lizzie Dyson is a Senior Manager of UX/UI at TalkTalk, and one of the brightest newcomers to our list of UX influencers. Graduating in 2012 with a degree in web design, she founded Ladies That UX (along with Georgie Bottomley) in Manchester a year later. It’s “a monthly meet-up that creates a welcoming, transparent community of women that work in UX, who positively promote and teach each other”.
Ladies That UX grew in popularity and now has a global membership with chapters in over 55 cities worldwide.
See: Her opening speech (Talk UX, 2020)
Katie Dill has worked at several companies known for their pioneering use of UX. She was the Former Director of Experience Design at AirBnb and VP of Design at Lyft. She is now Head of Design at Stripe.
Katie is an in-demand speaker at UX conferences. You will want to hear this UX thought leader.
See: Katie discuss how Airbnb uses “stories” to design.
Hired as Facebook’s first intern back in 2006 and made a manager at just 25, Julie spent 14 years as Facebook’s VP of design. She went on to co-found Inspirit.work, an advisory firm that partners with fast-scaling tech companies to build products. In 2021, Julie co-founded Sundial with the goal of empowering organizations and product builders to make better, data-driven decisions.
Julie is a content powerhouse. There are plenty of places to consume her thoughts.
She wrote ‘The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You’ to share professional advice she wished she’d received earlier.
Julie’s collection of essays ‘The Year of the Looking Glass’ are another place to read her thoughts about design, building products and observing life. You can also sign up to her once-every-three-week newsletter to gain similar insights.
See: ‘Lessons from High-Growth Startups and How to Hire Exceptional Designers’ (GV, 2021)
Read: ‘The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You’ (Portfolio, 2019)
Not to be confused with the actor, Chris Messina is best-known as the inventor of the hashtag. He also has a decade of UX design experience, working with companies like Uber and Google.
In his own words, Chris’ “skillset is broad, anchored in product and user experience design. He has created movements online and off, and has acted as an effective agent of change in large and small organisations.”
Chris regularly speaks at various large conferences around the world. Plus, he regularly posts on Medium.
See: His Ted talk ‘The unlikely lesson from inventing the hashtag’
Read: Chris’ posts on Medium
Elizabeth Churchill is the current Director of UX at Google. She has an extensive background in research science, psychology, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, human computer interaction and cognitive ergonomics. She has drawn from these different areas to have one of the most influential UX roles in the industry.
She has over 150 publications and 50 patents to her name, and served as Vice President of the Association of Computing Machinery.
See: ‘Driving UX Insights for Digital Tools’ (Design Drives, 2021)
Read: Her extensive list of publications
Cory Lebson is a UX consultant, instructor and author with over 20 years’ experience. He founded his UX consulting firm, Lebson Tech LLC, in 2008, and has consistently been a voice of influence in the industry.
Cory’s background spans psychology, research, usability and strategy. He has over 150 publications, presentations and training sessions to his name.
Cory published ‘The UX Careers Handbook’ to share his expertise with those working in UX, or looking to forge a career in the field.
He is the former president of the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) International, and a regular host of LinkedIn Learning training courses.
If you’re working in UX—or thinking about doing so—Cory is one to follow.
See: ‘Planning a Career in User Experience’ (LinkedIn Learning course, 2021)
Read: Cory’s extensive list of publications
Ioana has enjoyed a varied career so far, working as a UX architect, a freelance UX designer, a design mentor and advisor, and now a UX manager and co-founder.
Ioana has worked as a UX designer for over a decade, so she has plenty of wisdom to share. She offers tips for learning UX, transitioning into the field, and building your portfolio.
See: ‘How to Get Started in UX Design’ (Design Huddle, 2021)
Read: Ioana’s posts on Medium
Catriona Shedd is a product design and design systems leader with over 13 years’ experience. She is the current Director of Design at Instacart, having previously worked at InVision, Salesforce and RelateIQ.
With her unique design systems background, Catriona specializes in building and scaling design systems and crafting product experience vision and strategy.
Catriona has a large following on Twitter and Medium, where she shares her thoughts on design leadership, teamwork and culture within the design field, and general tips on how to make it in the industry
See: ‘Rise of Advanced Design Operations and How PM is Changing’ (NY Product Conference, 2018)
Read: Catriona’s writing on Medium
Irene Au has one of the most impressive resumés in UX. She is currently a Design Partner at Khosla Ventures, and her previous roles include VP of User Experience at Yahoo, Director of UX at Google and VP of Design at Udacity. Irene also teaches Advanced Product Design as an Adjunct Lecturer at Stanford University.
In her own words, Irene “builds high performing teams, establishes design practices, mentors and grows the next generation of great designers, and designs interfaces and experiences.”
Irene is active on Twitter, regularly sharing UX job opportunities. She also has a Medium account where she shares her thoughts on the industry.
See: ‘Cultivating Focus, Empathy, and Creativity for Better Product Design ’ (Talks at Google)
Read: Irene’s list of UX book recommendations
No list of UX influencers would be complete without Golden Krishna. Golden is most famous for his work as Head of Design Strategy at Google, and for his bestselling book ‘The Best interface is No Interface‘.
Golden is shaping the future of technology, having worked for R&D innovation labs at Google, Samsung and Zappos to “imagine, design and build new products and services.”
Golden Krishna has been named one of the “World’s Best Designers” by Fast Company, and has toured globally to give lectures about his work.
As one of the most influential UXers of our time, Golden Krishna is featured in several major publications. If you’re venturing into UX, it’s worth getting familiar with his work
See: ‘Designing for a World Without Screens’ (Google Design, 2018)
Read: ‘The Best Interface is No Interface’ (New Riders Pub., 2015)
Being a lifelong learner will serve you well in the UX industry. The above UX influencers all share this mindset. They’re open-minded and curious to learn new skills.