Few things inspire designers more than studying the greats who’ve gone before them. When it comes to user experience (UX) design, you can explore many talented individuals.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 174,300 web developers and digital designers. The industry grows at an 8% rate, which is much faster than the average of all professions.
Not all web developers are UX professionals, so the number is likely in the tens of thousands. The lower number of specialist designers still gives you plenty of potentially inspiring people. We’ve chosen 10 famous UX designers we find particularly uplifting.
1. Steve Krug
Known as a UX consultant, Steve Krug is a good UX designer to follow. He regularly posts to his website, offering tips and advice about designing usable sites. He’s also the author of “Don’t Make Me Think,” with rules for creating simple and intuitive websites.
Krug spent over 25 years as a usability coach and worked with corporations such as Apple, NPR and Bloomberg.com.
2. Luke Wroblewski
Wroblewski is known as one of the top software developers and thought leaders on the internet today. He worked at designing Yahoo and is an expert in micro mobile interactions. Since more and more people access the internet via their smartphones, his expertise is invaluable.
He’s written numerous UX and UI design courses and published several books on usability. He’s an expert in looking at the big picture of web design.
3. Andy Budd
Mr. Budd is one of the top speakers on the topic of usability. Known as the creator of Silverrback, a usability testing app, he also helped create the Web Standards movement.
In addition to writing and speaking on UX principles, Budd offers coaching to upcoming designers and businesses. He’s the founder of the influential UK design agency Clearleft and has worked with BBC and Penguin Books.
4. Yael Levey
Levey has over a decade of experience in UX best practices. She has a YouTube channel with the same name as her site, “I Am Not My Pixels.” As an avid blogger, she has a passion for helping younger designers understand what it takes to create stellar experiences for users.
She’s worked for BBC and Cancer Research UK. She currently works for Facebook as a product design manager.
5. Don Norman
We wouldn’t even have the term “user experience” without Don Norman. He is arguably one of the top modern influential famous UX designers.
His varied background helps him bring some rich perspectives to anything he creates or teaches. As a university professor, he often told his students they must design for real people. He is also a speaker and author.
His formal education as an electrical engineer and psychologist undoubtedly gives him some insight into both the way things work and the human psyche. You’ve likely heard of the Nielsen Norman Group. He is one of the founders and strived to help companies create better websites and services by researching consumers’ needs.
Take the time to study Norman’s writing and lessons to grasp designing in the real world.
6. Bill Buxton
Mr. Buxton considers himself a champion for consideration of humans in the implementation of new products and technologies. He is one of the top researchers for Microsoft Research and owns a Toronto design firm.
Buxton was a composer and performer. He even designed his own instruments and served as an artist in residence at the University of Toronto. He then returned to school to learn computer science and still teaches at the university today.
Buxton serves on numerous boards and looks at the UX of everything from films to websites. You can learn untold amounts of information from Buxton because he’s a wealth of a diverse collection of data.
7. Laura Klein
Klein is known as a Lean UX powerhouse. Her published works include “UX for Lean Startups” and “Build Better Products.” She is active on Twitter and shares tips and opportunities for other famous UX designers.
Her blog features advanced tips for fellow designers. For example, she shared task flow charts and how to build one to create a better process for users. She also shares podcasts and videos on her site.
8. Irene Au
Ms. Au is a former head designer for Google. She’s known for her interactive design prowess. Au is an expert in building teams and mentoring younger designers. In addition to her work with Google, she’s also led design teams in UX for Yahoo, Netscape and Udacity.
She’s currently an operating partner with Khosla Ventures and works in conjunction with portfolio companies to improve their designs.
9. Patrick Neeman
Neeman is the brains behind UsabilityCounts.com. He serves as the Senior Director of UX at Knowable. He worked with Apptio and Jobvite, where he helped them win a Webby Award and the Deloitte What Works award.
Neeman also served as a UX consultant for Microsoft and worked on prelaunch for Orbitz. Some other brands he’s worked with are MySpace, Realtor.com, Move.com, Paramount, Stamps.com, Disney, Paul Mitchell and eBay.
He regularly speaks to corporations and students about UX. He posts tips and resources on his Twitter profile regularly.
10. Aarron Walter
Mr. Walter wrote the book “Designing for Emotion” and focuses his time and energy on teaching others how to attract users to your website. He’s the senior design lead at Resolve to Save Lives. He’s worked with InVision, MailChimp and given advice to the White House, US Department of State and Fortune 500 companies.
He runs a podcast titled “The Design Better Podcast,” which is a finalist for the Shorty Awards and boasts over one million listens.
Inspiration Is Everywhere
The famous UX designers listed above give you a nice mix of options. You’ll learn something different from each one to apply to your work. However, don’t rule out the experienced designer at work who has tips and tricks to teach you. Remember your professors when you’ve taken design classes and reach out for ideas on books to read.
Designers must stay up on the current trends and build their skills over time. Look for opportunities to learn from others and add elements to your portfolio you didn’t have before.
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