It’s important for your professional growth to take a step back and learn from others.
We’ve put together a list of noteworthy UX thought leaders, recommended for their insights, content and contributions to the UX community.
Kim Goodwin has been doing user research and design for 25 years. 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 Golthelf evangelises this methodology in his book ‘Lean UX’ (that he co-authored with Josh Seiden). This short but insightful book looks at how UX teams can adapt to this rapid way of working.
It’s especially relevant for UX professionals working in ambitious startups or those who want to be more effective with their time.
Jeff has also led design teams at TheLadders and Web Trends.
See: ‘Lean, Agile, & Design Thinking’ (Mind the Product, Singapore, 2019)
Read: ‘Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience’ (O’Reilly Media, 2013)
As well as being the co-founder of Mule Design, Erika Hall has written two authoritative UX books: ‘Just Enough Research’ 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: ‘Just Enough Research’ (UX Salon, 2016)
Read: ‘Just Enough Research’ (A Book Apart, 2013); ‘Conversational Design’ (A Book Apart, 2018)
Dan Saffer is currently a 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.
See: ‘Microinteractions: Design with Details’ (UXLx – User Experience Lisbon, 2014)
Read: ‘Microinteractions: Designing with Details’ (O’Reilly Media, 2013)
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 also 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.
Jared uses Twitter threads to great effect, providing bitesize tips around UX topics.
See: Jared’s collection of UX talks
Read: Jared’s Medium posts
Lizzie Dyson is one of brightest newcomers to our list of 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, Boston, 2018)
Follow: @lizziedyson She also regularly contributes to the Ladies That UX and Talk UX feed.
Katie Dill has worked at two companies known for their pioneering use of UX. She was the Former Director of Experience Design at AirBnb and now VP of Design at Lyft.
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’s currently a co-founder of Inspirit.work, an advisory firm that partners with fast-scaling tech companies to build products.
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: ‘How a Facebook Designer Thinks’ (Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, Stanford, 2016)
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, as well as being the Executive Vice President of the Association of Computing Machinery.
See: ‘Metaphor and Stories in Product Management’ (Mind the Product, London, 2016)
Read: Her extensive list of publications
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.