I believe that we should never stop learning, and that learning about UX is not just learning about things in books that say “UX” on the cover, but also learning how people think, react, process information, and emote.
My elevator speech about what it is I do for a living for those who don’t know anything about UX is that I work with data and psychology to help customers get what they want more easily, and in a satisfying manner. That’s always a good nutshell speech because it encompasses not just the rigor of our field, its objective data-driven side, but also the human element that every UXer must attend to as well. Then there’s the sociological aspect, and the artistic aspect of UX, which makes it very difficult to summarize to a layperson exactly why a podcast about race and gender might inform your work.
The podcasts listed below may not be directly about UX but they do cover what I see as important supplemental topics that inform my work. You may already be listening to some of these, and some of them, hopefully, are brand new to you. I’d love to hear about your favorite podcast – even if it has nothing at all to do with UX!
99% Invisible – iTunes – Website – Favorite Episode: 219 – Unpleasant Design
“Ever wonder how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures at used car lots? Curious about the origin of the fortune cookie? Want to know why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair? 99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. With 80 million downloads, 99% Invisible is one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes…”
Hidden Brain – iTunes – Website – Favorite Episode: 37 – Smoke and Mirrors
“The Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain’s host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.”
Invisibilia – iTunes – Website – Favorite Episode: Flip The Script
“Invisibilia (Latin for invisible things) is about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Co-hosted by Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel, Invisibilia interweaves narrative storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently.”
“Every show features highlighted content from the week’s edition of Nature including interviews with the people behind the science, and in-depth commentary and analysis from journalists covering science around the world.”
Unlike the other podcasts listed above, this one is less storytelling and more informative. But…it’s also hilarious sometimes. I subscribe to about 30 podcasts, and I give them usually two episodes and if I’m not into it, I unsubscribe. I was a bit concerned that this one would be dry, but it really isn’t – a pleasant surprise!
I don’t have a favorite episode for this one because the episodes don’t always adhere to themes. Here’s a sample show summary: “This week, the ideal office environment, synthesising speech, and embryo epigenetics.”
Note To Self – iTunes – Website – Favorite Episode: Blind Kids, Touchscreen Phones and the End of Braille?
“Is your phone watching you? Can wexting make you smarter? Are your kids real? These and other essential quandaries for anyone trying to preserve their humanity in the digital age. Join host Manoush Zomorodi for your weekly reminder to question everything. Produced by WNYC Studios.”
Connecting the human with the technology – and looking a little deeper into the intersections between…
Only Human – iTunes – Website – Favorite Episode: Your Brain on Sound
“Only Human is a show about making the most of our health, where we’re not afraid to have uncomfortable conversations, and experiment with possible solutions. Only Human. Because every body has a story. Produced by WNYC Studios.”
Where bodies have problems, UX can have solutions. And this show helps you see the other sides of every human experience.
Reply All – iTunes – Website – Favorite Episode: #73 – Sandbox
“Despite the name, Reply All isn’t a podcast about technology — it’s a podcast that tells gorgeous, painfully human stories that happen to have bits of technology sprinkled in.”
Exploring the people behind technologies – the actual users…
Science Vs. – iTunes – Website – Favorite Episode: Hypnosis
“Science Vs takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between. This season, we’ll be tackling organic food, attachment parenting, gun control, fracking, and more. Hosted by @wendyzuk”
When UX becomes more about the arts, and less about the science, getting back to a little bit of investigative rigor can help get you back on track!
The Art of Charm –
“You’ll learn our top strategies to improve your career, confidence, lifestyle and love-life from top experts like life and business-hackers Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi and Noah Kagan to Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, Olivia Fox, The Art of Charm team and more.”
I debated including this podcast in this list because I have a feeling it was initially intended as a podcast to Help Men Feel Like Real Men…I don’t wanna do too much research into that actually, and their website reads a little “men’s rights activist”/ frat-boy-club, but there’s me judging a book by its cover.
My favorite episode is about career changes, of which I’ve had a few – Jenny Blake explains how during crucial moments in your life you can take the bull by the horns and change direction. The episode about the former FBI hostage negotiator who discusses how to use psychology for emotional persuasion. It’s fantastic.
I’d listened to the podcast and found value in their guests’ topics before I caught the self-promotion on the ego scale of Gary Vee and Scott Stratten, but I’m still recommending this podcast on its merits. Yup. I can ignore the whiffs of AXE-like bro-ness, and their ads for their paid man-camps where they have guys be guys and get better at being whatever…IDK…because their content is so damn interesting.
In fact, don’t go to their website until you have an overwhelming wave of morbid curiosity. If you’re anything like me, it’s damn near gonna ruin it for you.
You Are Not So Smart – iTunes – Website – Favorite Episode: Change My View
“The central theme of You Are Not So Smart is that you are unaware of how unaware you are. There is an old-and-still-growing body of research across several disciplines with findings that suggest you have little idea why you act or think the way you do…You Are Not So Smart is a fun exploration of the ways you and everyone else tends to develop an undeserved confidence in human perception, motivation, and behavior. I hope by reading it and listening to the podcast you’ll rediscover a humility and reconnect with the stumbling, fumbling community of man trying to make sense of things the best we can…”
In addition to the hella-interesting recent series on cognitive biases, which explored cognitive biases & fallacies, YANSS delves into heuristics, and ways the mind tricks itself into believing all sorts of outlandish things. The flip side of this is how as creators of experiences we can use basic human psychology to direct users to their goals, or even to problem-solve for experience problems. For now, all of our users are human, so this guide to how human minds slip on proverbial banana peels is a brilliant addition to your toolbox.
Content warning: the cookie part of the podcast at the very end of each episode triggers my misophonia (extreme dislike of eating, drinking and chewing noises) so hard I have to FFWD even though I would love to hear more about cookies, really. I understand, he has to show the cookie-recipe-provider via audio how much he enjoys eating the cookie. For sound-rage-free cookie-ing, flip to the next podcast as soon as you hear the Cookie Monster singing, and get the recipes off their website. You’re welcome!