When students or teammates ask me where or how to go about learning a given thing, I typically start with a recommendation to join the local library and download their app (props to whoever made the Libby app), and a handful of podcasts to listen to.
I then encourage people to get in the habit of doing something healthy while listening to something interesting and fill-the-cupish. I’ve learned about dark patterns while mowing the lawn, and the double diamond while doing the dishes. When my hands are on autopilot my mind can soak things in (or dream things up). Chores + listening has maybe become my favorite past time.
In order to aid adoption and save people time, I recently started spreadsheeting and cataloging all of the design-related podcasts episodes, books/audiobooks, articles, etc that have been useful, entertaining, or memorable in order to share with my peoples. Common vocabulary goes a long way.
While that assembly is still underway, here are the 9 standout design podcast episodes I have suggested that my coworkers listen to first.
#1 Design Ethics and the Race to the Bottom of the Brain Stem via Presentable
It feels right to start out with a discussion on ethics and persuasion given today’s landscape. The guest on this episode is Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google and what The Atlantic has referred to as, “the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience.”
Presentable is hosted by Jeff Veen, one of the founders of Adaptive Path and later a principal at places like Adobe and Google. The podcast has high-profile guests is overall high quality.
#2 Infused Design with Jared Spool via UX Podcast
I included this one mainly because if you’re not familiar with Jared Spool, you should be. I could’ve honestly picked any of Spool’s podcast appearances, but I liked the broad message of this one regarding the topic of our roles as designers within organizations.
UX podcast is based out of Sweden and run by co-hosts James Royal-Lawson and Per Axbom. They mostly feature interviews with speakers – well known and less well-known – from some of the big conferences in Europe like UXLx, Business to Buttons, etc.
#3 Colour Schemes: How Colours Make You Buy via Under the Influence
Again, I could’ve picked any of a hundred episodes from Under the Influence but I thought this was a nice one for a design-related list. This episode has some interesting anecdotes on branding and color choice, some pop-psych and studies related to color and it’s overall a fun listen.
Under the Influence is run by Terry O’Reilly, a copywriter, and former ad person. The podcast is advertising focused, interesting, well researched, and I’ve yet to hit an episode I didn’t find interesting.
#4 Be a Good Ancestor with Alan Cooper via User Defenders
This is another choice based on the interviewee. Alan Cooper is just fun to listen to, and not just because he says ‘Fuck’ a lot. If you haven’t read his books, articles or heard him speak, this is a pretty good place to start.
I should note that I don’t spend much time with the User Defenders podcast. There are some aspects I don’t care for quite as much as other shows, but I don’t want to sway opinion too much. There might be some gold in there I haven’t struck yet.
#5 How Big is My Penis (and other things we ask google) via Freakonomics
Yes, I picked this one for the salacious title. Choosing a Freakonomics episode is impossible. BUT, I genuinely enjoyed and found useful the guest’s book, so this episode is a nice cliffs notes version. The guest is Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, and his book covers clever ways to gain insights into one of my favorite subjects: the discrepancies between what we say and what we do.
Seriously, if you don’t listen to Freakonomics start at books then work your way through all of the podcasts from the beginning. If that’s not you, other good places to start are the series on Creativity and the Life of a CEO series.
#6 Negative Space: Logo Design with Michael Beirut via 99% Invisible
I was torn between this one and Making a Mark: Visual Identity with Tom Geismar. You should listen to both. Both designers are legend. I ended up choosing this episode only because it has some slightly more contemporary examples and discussion.
Listen to 99% Invisible. It’s good. I’m pretty sure it’s the most well known design-related podcast. The episodes are 99% interesting. Very few duds.
#7 How to Give Good Feedback via Presentable
This episode features an interview with former Twitter VP/Design and current VP at Invision Mike Davidson. Our whole team should go back and listen to this episode because we DEFINITELY have feedback on Invision and want to make sure it is as actionable as possible. But the episode is good and while there are loads of great podcasts on running reviews and meetings, I thought this one started at a good level.
#8 The Power of Saying No via Design Review
I have seen a number of designers – including myself – struggle with some of the topics in this episode and I think it’s a worthwhile listen, especially for jr. designers.
The Design Review podcast, though less polished and not my all-time fav, has had some nice episodes. Fairly hands-on and tactical topics for the junior – mid-level designers. They’ve got some nice episodes on career, culture, and workplace.
#9 Building a team with Alissa Briggs via UX Podcast
I came across this episode right at a time when we were scaling the design team here at Shockoe and were going through some of the issues and activities Alissa discusses in the show. It meant a lot to me to hear that other folks were having similar issues and discovering similar approaches. Really enjoyed the episode and definitely useful for any of us in the position of scaling small teams.
Speaking of Podcasts, check out our in-house one!
Jamie is the experience design lead at Shockoe with ten years of experience in media,
advertising, and technology under his belt. When he’s not helping Shockoe’s clients to create
better mobile apps, Jamie chases chickens and tends gardens with his wife on their property. He also enjoys moonlighting as a teacher at the VCU Brandcenter when he has time.