15 TED Talks Every Web Designer Should Watch


Design inspiration can come from almost anywhere. TED Talks can be one of those sources of inspiration with graphic and web designers from all over the world sharing their wins and fails, experiences and stories.

Video talks can last anywhere from a couple of minutes to an hour and topics are wide-ranging. If you need an inspirational jumpstart, try a TED Talk.

These 15 videos cover everything from personal happiness to the future of web design and internet.

Mike Matas: A Next-Generation Digital Book

Mike Matas demonstrates the first full-length interactive book, Al Gore’s “Our Choice.” Displayed on an iPad and combined with written text it is an hour of documentary footage, interactive graphics, audio and maps.

Not only does this book introduce new concepts of illustrative art, but it also offers new ways to interact with and organize data to share stories.

Stefan Sagmeister: Happiness by Design

From small posters in the subway to breathtaking architecture, Stefan Sagmeister takes the audience on a journey, teaching how design brings joy to the public. Weaving personal happiness into his design, Sagmeister offers an uplifting glimpse into the creative process and how this positivity can be reflected in the world.

Don Norman: 3 Ways Good Design Makes You Happy

Don Norman explains how pleasant things work better and how happiness leads to better creativity and better problem-solving. He also delves into the three emotions a well-designed product will evoke.

Milton Glaser: How Great Design Makes Ideas New

From the TED archives: Milton Glaser discusses the inspiration for graphic design and the process of creating a meaningful concept from both abstract and structured sources. He explains how breaking the rules can sometimes be a fresh way to refurbish old ideas.

Rory Sutherland: Life lessons from an Ad Man

In the design world, the intangible value can be a creative – and even better – alternative to a quantitative value. He asks the interesting question, “How many problems in life can be solved by tinkering with perception instead of trying to change reality?”

Simplicity Sells: David Pogue

Writer David Pogue discusses the importance of customer support for the technological consumer base that stretches beyond call centers to software that is well-designed and easy to use. Using examples from best and worst interface designs, Pogue discusses how to negotiate simplicity with an increasing demand for features.

Denis Dutton: A Darwinian Theory Of  Beauty

Denis Dutton explains the roots of beauty in the history of humankind. Dutton uses art to describe the journey of shared ideas of beauty across time and across the world, pinning the first example of beautiful design before language was developed. Beauty, according to Dutton, is not in the eye of the beholder but is instead buried deep in our minds.

David Carson: Design + Discovery

In his entertaining, and often hilarious, discussion of simple design (some good, some bad), David Carson shares his views on emotional response to design, including the artist’s intuition. Carson encourages designers to embrace personal perspective to offer a unique approach to their work, forecasting that people will become the center of advertising in the technological age.

Paul Bennett Finds Design In the Details

IDEO’s creative director Paul Bennett tackles the challenge of reconciling consumers and corporations by starting with small details that affect client experiences. Bennett provides funny, entertaining examples of mundane and marginalized experiences that inspired people to see the world in new ways. This shift of perception is especially relevant to designers working with clients who are overlooking the tiny details that can improve design and experience.

Kevin Kelly: The Next 5,000 Days Of The Web

Recorded in 2007, this TED talk features Kevin Kelly. At a point when the world wide web is 5,000 days old, Kelly predicts the next 5,000 days of the Internet. The energetic publisher of Whole Earth Review and the executive editor of WIRED engages in a retrospective and forward thinking the discussion of the “big machine” we call the web.

John Underkoffler: Pointing to the Future of UI

John Underkoffler unveils a futuristic interface controlled by hand gestures. Using special gloves, Underkoffler navigates images and data in fluid movements through space, networks, and screens. As the science adviser for the film “Minority Report,” Underkoffler could actually be turning science fiction into reality with this invention.

Gary Flake: Is Pivot a Turning Point for Web Exploration?

The demonstration of Pivot is an interesting look toward the future of web browsing. With an emphasis on pattern recognition and data organization, this program transforms browsing into a more conscious and streamlined “exploration” through massive amounts of data.

Marco Tempest: The Magic of Truth and Lies (and iPods)

Any designer or artist who has contemplated the magic and deception of art will be inspired by Marco Tempest’s brief, yet profoundly entertaining, meditation on the subject.

Paula Scher: Great Design is Serious (Not Solem)

Paula Scher discusses how her hate for the Helvetica typeface inspired the serious play that launched her legendary career. Join her as she dismisses solemnity and embraces the play that has revived her career over the years.

David McCandless: The Beauty of Data Visualization

David McCandless is a data journalist who sees information overload not as a problem, but as a design opportunity. Bringing information into relevant proportions, McCandless exposes hidden patterns as a data detective. He says that design is about solving problems and providing elegant solutions.


  1. Justin Durano Oct 12, 11:57 am

    This post is AWESOME!
    A very good source of personal happiness to the future WEB DESIGN and INTERNET. It really worth my spare time to watch those videos. I was really entertained and inspired watching the videos. Those people in the video really are WICKED they look after the future.

    Thanks for posting Rachel.

    Evolve for our Success.

  2. Cheap Startups Oct 12, 5:18 pm

    Agreed – this is an amazing post!! Thank you for curating this content for us… :)

  3. Rachel Sanders Oct 12, 5:21 pm

    Hey Justin,

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I had a blast watching these videos. I think it made me a much happier person during the two days I researched for it. I might even start the habit of watching one TED video a day…y’know to keep the creative blocks away!


  4. Dave G. Oct 15, 3:44 pm

    These videos really reinvigorated me!

    Thank you.

  5. n@ser Oct 19, 4:01 am

    ..all those videos giving you a hopeful sign of continue creativity even though you just started it for game..

    ..but after a while is started being an obsession..

    ..an obsession of seeing the world with kaleidoscope glasses!

    Thank You!

  6. Hector Rodriguez Oct 29, 3:32 pm

    This is a great compilation. Thanks for taking the time and sharing.

  7. Tim Nov 1, 10:09 pm

    I highly recommend Simon Sinek, who is not listed here :)

  8. e11world Nov 10, 1:54 am

    This was probably the most fun post I have ever seen. I bookmarked this and watched it over 3 weeks (busy life for all I know) and it was worth every second. I realized a lot of things about me through these videos. Thank you so much for these and I’d love to see another post with videos as interesting as these.

    Iraqi designer from Canada :)

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