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11 Designers You Have to Know

11 Designers You Have to Know

Alesya Denga
December 8, 2020
5 min read

It's easy to get comfortable with the designs we see all around us. As a result, we often take them for granted and don't even know how they originated. So, let's pay homage to some of the all-time UX/UI design greats and learn a bit more about the designers who inspired us!

#1 Don Norman

Meet the godfather of UX and the ex-Vice President of Apple — Don Norman. Not only is Don a co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group, but he also currently Director of the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego. He's spent most of his life researching, teaching, and supporting user-centered design. Don Norman was the first person to coin the term "user experience" in his now legendary book The Design of Everyday Things, and was the first to use UX in a job title. He's been on numerous advisory boards and boards of directors throughout his career, published 18 books, and continues to speak at multiple UX events and conferences.

#2 Julie Zhou

Julie Zhuo started her career as an intern in the early days of Facebook, and she went on to become the Vice President of Product Design. With more than 14 years of experience, she is now a co-founder for Inspirit, an advisory firm that helps scale tech startups. Aside from that, she writes about technology, design, management, and leadership. In 2019, Julie released the book The Making of a Manager.

#3 Farai Madzima

Did you know that Farai Madzima almost become a doctor, but, fortunately for designers worldwide, he changed his mind? Now Farai is working as UX Lead at Shopify in Canada with over 10 years of design experience. You've probably seen one of his talks at various UX events, including the Pixel Up! conference that he organizes himself. Farai is also an altruistic designer who's worked on several banking apps in Africa, where users either have limited Internet access or use simple mobile devices.

#4 Luke Wroblewski

Luke Wroblewski is one of the most influential UX experts and the inventor of the mobile-first concept — his book Mobile First is a must-read for anyone interested or working in design. He's currently a Product Director at Google, and the CEO and Co-founder of Polar — spoiler alert, Google acquired it. Apart from writing books and articles about digital product design and strategy, he's also a conference speaker and founder of LukeW Ideation & Design, a product strategy & design consultancy agency.

#5 Dieter Rams

Dieter Rams led Braun and Vitsoe's consumer product design for many years, and he never once stopped to ask himself, "Is my design a good design?" He's considered one of the most influential product designers, a man who helped shape the look and feel of some of our most beloved gadgets — from the coffeemaker to the portable radio. About 50 years ago, he developed the 10 principles of good design that we still use today.

#6 Steve Krug

Even if you're a design noob, you're most likely familiar with the name Steve Krug. His first book, Don't Make Me Think, teaches and inspires generations of designers to do one thing well — be more empathetic and create better user experiences. The book is now on its third edition and has sold over 600k copies in 15 languages. Steve draws on 25 years' experience as a UX consultant for a wide range of well-known brands, including Apple, Bloomberg, Lexus, National Public Radio, and the International Monetary Fund.

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#7 Jonathan Ive

Many people know Steve Jobs, but did you know Jonathan "Jony" Ive is the man behind Apple's most iconic products? Not only was Ive instrumental in designing Apple's most iconic devices, but he also worked on iOS as well as designs for the Apple Stores. This London native has served as the Chief Design Officer at Apple for over two decades and, as Steve Jobs emphasized, his "spiritual partner at Apple." In 2019, Jony Ive left Apple and launched his own design firm LoveFrom.

#8 Aarron Walter

Aarron Walter is the author of the best-selling book Designing for Emotion and the Vice President of Design Education at InVision. As former Director of User Experience at MailChimp, Aaron helped the product grow from several thousand users to more than 10 million. His guidance also helped dozens of other companies, including the US Department of State.

#9 Irene Au

A big fan of math and science and a gadget geek, Irene Au always thought about using technology to make products that really serve people's needs. This led her to become an interaction designer working for Netscape, Yahoo, Google, and Udacity. Now, she's an operating partner at Khosla Ventures and helps other companies establish design practices, mentor, and grow the next generation of UX talents. Apart from UX, Irene loves yoga and teaches it four times a week at the Avalon Art and Yoga Center in Palo Alto.

#10 Chris Do

Meet Chris Do — an ambitious Emmy award-winning designer, CEO and Chief Strategist of Blind, the Futur founder, and someone with a knack for teaching design and mentoring creative minds. Chris Do does (yeah, the pun intended) lectures and workshops teaching people about innovation, entrepreneurship, business management, and customer service.

#11 Jakob Nielsen

In the design world, Jakob Nielsen is a living legend for his 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design — the holy grail of design success. He developed several usability methods, including heuristic evaluation, and wrote books and dozens of articles about usability. Together with Donald Norman, they founded the Nielsen Norman Group, where Nielsen advocates for users' needs, conducts user research, and provides consultations.