Design events are a great way to get a burst of inspiration, ideas and advice from expert speakers who know their stuff. So it's a real shame so many great events got cancelled this year. On the plus side, many of them have gone online instead, and that's allowed us to experience live talks from around the world in the comfort of our own home, at a fraction of the normal cost.
With so many virtual events going on, however, it's been difficult to keep up with all them all. So in this post we round up some of the best talks of the year so far: all of them available to watch again (and again) for free. Enjoy!
01. Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?
London Calling is an annual series of designer lectures offered by the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography and Art in London. This year it took place online, and our favourite was given by Lucienne Roberts, a graphic designer and CEO who’s committed to making accessible, engaging work with a socially aware agenda. In her talk, she discusses practical ways in which graphic designers can help promote social and political progress within society.
02. Creating Unity not Uniformity with Design Language Systems
Originally due to take place in London in March, the fifth annual UXConf was one of many to move to the virtual world in 2020. In her talk, UX expert Hayley Hughes, currently at Shopify and previously at IBM and Airbnb, discusses how today’s companies are expected to offer seamless and coherent brand experiences. However, if the system is too strict, teams are constrained and the results are rigid and dull. Hayley explains how you can inspire unity, not uniformity, with your design language system, allowing you to remove the barriers to creativity and unlock innovation in your organisation.
03. Nicer Tuesdays: Ricardo Bessa
Nicer Tuesdays is a monthly event curated by It’s Nice That which brings together a selection of speakers for short, sharp insights on new and timely projects. Back in February before the lockdown, Portugeuse illustrator Ricardo Bessa delivered this talk on his recent work with 4Creative and Picnic Studios to promote series two of hit TV show The End of the F***ing World. Be prepared for lots of inspiration and lots of swear words.
04. A Typophile’s Twenty-Year Adventures in Zimbabwe with Saki Mafundikwa
Saki is the founder and director of the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts, a design and new-media training college in Harare. In this online lecture co-presented by San Francisco Public Library in April, Saki speaks about his 20-year adventure running an arts institution with zero funding. It’s an entrancing story that can’t fail to fascinate and inspire you.
05. Be a good boss: How to support your under marginalised colleagues
Based in New Mexico, Tara King is a long-time Drupal and WordPress developer and a developer advocate at Pantheon. In her talk for WordCamp Europe 2020, a three-day virtual event for the European WordPress Community, she outlines how to make your company a place that’s welcoming and supportive to every member of your team. This talk offers a great mix of practical tips and broad direction, research-based claims, and personal experience.
06. Is Online Advertising Broken by Design? Navigating Privacy Challenges in Adtech
Lambda Days 2020 is a programming conference that took place in Krakow, Poland back in February. This eye-opening lecture was given by Karolina Iwańska, a Mozilla EU Tech Policy Fellow who's investigating the online advertising ecosystem for privacy and human rights abuses. In her talk, Karolina reveals how online advertising is dominated by middlemen who operate in the dark and share data beyond anyone’s control. Ultimately, she asks, can it be fixed, or is online advertising broken beyond all repair?
07. Bringing Visual Effects to Motion Graphics
Taking place in February just before lockdown, Vertex 2020 is a conference for 2D and 3D artists organised by our sister titles ImagineFX and 3D World. To enjoy the main speakers, from superstar illustrator Loish to Pixar’s Dylan Sisson, you needed to be there; but a couple of the smaller sessions have gone online, including this one from Bob Walmsley of Insydium. In his talk, Bob utilises X-Particles’ physics solvers, smoke and fire, fluids and flow fields in order to introduce you to some sophisticated but artist-friendly VFX techniques.
08. The Future of Typography in Augmented Reality
Originally due to take place in Munich this March, TypeTech MeetUp moved online instead, and here's one of the biggest highlights. Niteesh Yadav is a product and type designer working on the convergence of digital product design and typography. In this talk, he outlines his own research in typography in augmented reality and how he's used it to design a type family optimised for AR headsets. Niteesh also sheds light on how text is implemented in AR at present, and how to make it work effectively.
09. Data Sketches: a year of exotic visualizations
DataFest Tbilisi is an annual international conference about data, technology, and communications which normally takes place in the Georgian capital. This year it went online, which means global audiences got to enjoy this great talk from Dutch dataviz artist and designer Nadieh Bremer. In her session, she walks us through some of her best-known work and draws out broad themes and advice that we can apply to our own dataviz projects.
10. How to Create Products for a Subscription World
Lean Product Meetup is aimed at anyone interested in learning best practices in product management, lean startup, UX design, and Agile. One of their best talks of 2020 so far comes from Robbie Baxter, consultant and author of The Forever Transaction. It focuses on how, when you move to a subscription model, you need to redesign your product at a fundamental level. Robbie explains how she’s helped companies like Netflix and EA do so, and shares tips and advice for anyone pursuing a similar goal.