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8 Insightful Design Talks & Speeches to Inspire Creative Thinking

8 Insightful Design Talks & Speeches to Inspire Creative Thinking Blog Feature

Christine Austin

Creative Lead, 7+ Years of Web Design and Development Experience

May 16th, 2017 min read

Long drives to work can be a real pain, especially if you find yourself caught in traffic (dang rubberneckers).

When I first started my 45-minute drives to and from work, I listened to the radio - surfing around to find music or an upbeat talk show to keep me up during the drive.

But I quickly became bored. I wasn’t walking into work with ideas and creative knowledge already swirling through my head. Instead, it was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers or some upcoming pop artist, which, didn’t exactly help me at the time.

So I made a switch.

Today, my morning and afternoon drives are filled with creative podcasts, videos, sound bites, talks, and case studies (with some NPR thrown in for good measure). Now, I couldn’t be more mentally prepared to start and end the day.

For those who find themselves in a similar situation, or just want some content to refill their creative minds, I’ve assembled some of my favorite talks from a variety of conferences and sessions.

Take a listen, or pocket them for later, you never know how these will inspire your next project.

1. Raphael DiLuzio: 7 Steps of Creative Thinking

Creative processes can help fuel and nurture ideas into more refined thoughts or solutions. Without it, we may find ourselves running in circles, or struggling to think creatively.

Raphael, a professor and artist, lost his ability to think creatively, draw, and speak when a accident resulted in a concussive brain injury. During his rehabilitation, Raphael took the time to to reflect on creativity, eventually developing the 7 steps of creative thinking.

His talk goes over the stages he discovered in his own research and how to harness and expand upon the ‘eureka moments’, or, the little ideas you generate that focus on solutions or improvements to current issues.

He believes these steps are critical in the development of creative confidence and the pursuit of critical thinking.

2. Adrian Zumbrunnen: Smart Transitions In User Experience Design

Motion in design helps create feeling, personality, and enhances the story you tell about your brand and product. But many are still stuck creating static experiences while others decide to add in the interactions as an ‘afterthought’.

These approaches are no longer acceptable. Motion, animation and transitions must be assets that are developed from the beginning of a project so they merge naturally with the design.

In this talk from UX Salon 2015, Adrian explains why motion is such a critical part of contemporary design and how it can be used to create more immersive experience for your users.

3. David Kelley: How to Build Your Creative Confidence

Building the confidence to create can be a incredibly difficult hurdle to overcome, especially if you feel afraid to even explore creativity. This fear is perpetuated in the workplace by those who feel that they aren't a 'creative' type, and therefore, simply can't design.

In this TEDTalk, David breaks down those barriers by exploring the step-by-step methodology (called ‘guided mastery’) for working through creativity phobias and shares some interesting studies along the way.

4. Aaron Draplin: Tall Tales from a Large Man

The long and uncertain path of being and independent graphic designer comes with no shortage of highs and lows, and Aaron’s life is no stranger to it.

In this talk, Aaron talk about his journey through the design mind and life experiences have shaped and molded him into the person he is today.

5. Jakob Nielsen: Web UX 2016 vs 2004

From a visual standpoint, the web has come a long way from the early 2000s to what we are seeing today. But what does that mean about website usability, delight, or information architecture?

Jakob from the Nielsen Norman Group compares the company’s 2004 web UX study to one it performed in 2016 and outlines the differences between users interaction and feelings towards the changes and advancements (or setbacks) users believe many sites share.  

6. Don Normal: Living With Complexity

In a vastly complex world that demands tasks be made easier to complete, there is a never ending challenge to create products with an abundance of customization that achieve a simplistic user experience.

Yet the majority of products that attempt to find this balance fail in the process.

Based on his book 'Living with Complexity', Don suggests that the real issue behind products we find challenging isn’t their complexity, it’s there bad design. In this talk, Don explains how we should embrace complexity and how it creates richness in our lives, so long as design as the ability to tame and control it.

7. William Lidwell: How Great Designers Think

If you’ve always wanted to know how famous artists like Leonardo, Da Vinci, or Picasso thought, then you’ve come to the right video.

William investigates the thinking habits, problem solving techniques, and cognitive strategies successful product, design, and art leaders use when making complex decisions.

The thinking techniques, William titles the ‘Ten Heuristics’, are the core elements that he believes designers should practice and master to find success in solving today’s problems.

8. Tim Harford: How Frustration Can Make Us More Creative

Whether you are a marketer, strategist, or sales person, there comes a time where you are faced with difficult tasks that may stretch and strain your problem solving process. This creates the desire to abandon your search for a solution, leaving you frustrated and burnt out.

In this TedTalk, Tim urges individuals to take advantage of these feelings to help combat your limitations and mold them into a road to success.

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