Updated 9/20/2018: We’ve updated this post to include some more recent favorites. Enjoy!
Since the first conference way back in 1984, TED Talks have inspired us, captivated us, and given us something thought-provoking to watch over lunch. To help you catch the can’t-miss gems of TED’s 300+ design-focused talks, we’ve hand-picked a few of our favorites.
1. “How giant websites design for you (and a billion others, too)” by Margaret Gould Stewart
Facebook’s “like” and “share” buttons are seen more than 20 billion times a day, making them some of the most-viewed design elements ever created. Margaret Gould Stewart leads product design at Facebook and shares three rules for design at such a massive scale, where a tiny tweak to that “like” button could cause outrage.
2. “The stories behind The New Yorker’s iconic covers” by Françoise Mouly
For more than 20 years, Françoise Mouly has helped decide what appears on The New Yorker’s famous cover. In this visual retrospective, she talks about how simple drawings can cut through the millions of images we see each day and elegantly capture the feeling of a moment in time.
3. “The secret language of letter design” by Martina Flor
Have you ever noticed the letters on street signs, stores, restaurant menus, or covers of books? These letters are speaking to you, telling you something beyond the literal text. In this talk, lettering designer Martina Flor introduces you to this secret language and explains how changing the shapes, colors, and textures of letters can affect how we perceive them.
4. “How Airbnb designs for trust” by Joe Gebbia
Job Gebbia, the co-founder of Airbnb, built his whole company on the idea that people can trust each other enough to stay in a stranger’s homes. How did he overcome the fear of stranger-danger? Through good design. In this talk, he explains how design helps foster community and connection, instead of isolation and separation.
5. “Where joy hides and how to find it” by Ingrid Fetell Lee
Rainbows, bubbles, and googly eyes: Why do some images seem to evoke such universal joy? Designer and writer Ingrid Fetell Lee reveals the surprising roots of joy and shares how we can all find and create more of it.
6. “The first secret of design is… noticing” by Tony Fadell
Most of us get used to “the way things are.” But for designers, the way things are present an opportunity—how could things be better? The man behind the iPod and Nest thermostat shares some of his tips for noticing and driving change and innovation.
7. “You are fluent in this language (and don’t even know it) by Christoph Niemann
Illustrator Christoph Niemann believes we are all fluent in the language of pictures (even if we don’t realize it). In this talk packed with witty, whimsical drawings, he takes us on a visual tour to show how artists can tap into customers’ emotions and minds, all without words.
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