Web Designers Take Note—7 Quotes from Awe-Inspiring TED Talks

Every day, new websites, social networks and blogs pop up across the Internet. Covering everything from politics to purses, these new developments convey and communicate various types of information, but they all have something in common—a web designer helped make it possible.

By combining technological advances, artistic vision and forward-thinking software, designers and developers help bring to life all sorts of ideas. However, like with any job or task—especially a creative one—the potential for burnout and stagnancy is always present. So, to give your work some new life and keep it from going stale, read over some of these inspirational TED quotes.

Eli Pariser

“We really need the Internet to be that thing that we all dreamed of it being. We need it to connect us all together. We need it to introduce us to new ideas and new people and different perspectives. And it’s not going to do that if it leaves us all isolated in a Web of one.” — Eli Pariser, Pioneering online organizer.

In Eli’s video on filter bubbles, he touches on a very real challenge that faces everyone involved in the creative process of the web and that’s keeping it broad and growing, yet connected at the same time. What he is specifically talking about it are the dangers of pigeonholing people based on their searches and interests, thereby keeping them sheltered from new ideas or perspectives. This directly relates to designers and developers, as their creations are how data even reaches the consumer in the first place. If it is unappealing or hard to follow, the search and exploration might stop there, limiting the overall experience.

Web designers must remember how their role affects the Internet as a whole, as it really is all one big puzzle, after all.

David Carson

You have to utilize who you are in your work. Nobody else can do that: nobody else can pull from your background, from your parents, your upbringing, your whole life experience.” — David Carson, Typographer and author.

This quote by David Carson is an especially important one for designers, as it serves as a reminder that no matter how complex the web might get, design and inspiration still come from within. Sure, they might be using digital software to create their masterpieces, but that doesn’t make these designers lesser artists than those using paint and a canvas. They have to see what they want to create from within and go with it. See the video in its entirety.

John Hockenberry

Design [is] the emerging ethos formulating and then answering a very new question: What shall we do now, in the face of the chaos that we have created?”— John Hockenberry, Journalist and commentator

Although John Hockenberry might not realize it, he is, in a way, speaking to the designers of the web here. They are the ones who must make sense of all of the information coming at the consumer. They are the ones that have to display it in an attractive, comprehensible way. If they didn’t, users would be lost in the “chaos” Hockenberry mentions. Hear more of his thoughts here.

David McCandless

“Data is the new soil, because for me, it feels like a fertile, creative medium. Over the years, online, we’ve laid down a huge amount of information and data, and we irrigate it with networks and connectivity, and it’s been worked and tilled by unpaid workers and governments.”” — David McCandless, Data Journalist

McCandless sort of echoes the idea of Hockenberry in that he acknowledges the web is a mass of data to be ingested by people. He goes on to say that it takes elaborate networks and connectivity to make it all a reality—that’s where the designers and developers come in. McCandless’ words should serve as a reminder to web designers everywhere just how important their job is. See the whole talk.

Maira Kalman

“I said, ‘Well, how much space do I have?’ And they said, ‘Well, you know, it’s the Internet.’” — Maira Kalman, Illustrator

Kalman’s words are brief but speak volumes. Before the Internet, artists and designers were limited by page boarders, cut lines and more. The Internet, however, has changed all that. There are copious amounts of space with which to work and endless pages that can be filled—it’s just up to designers to work with what they have and take advantage of that. Check out the rest of her TED talk.

Aaron Koblin

“An interface can be a powerful narrative device. And as we collect more and more personally and socially relevant data, we have an opportunity, and maybe even an obligation, to maintain [our] humanity and tell some amazing stories.” — Aaron Koblin, Digital Artist

Sometimes, web designers get so backed up with work and routine that they lose sight of what they are actually doing. Koblin, however, helps remind them of the art behind the labor. Through this quote and his entire TED talk, he reinforces the idea that the Internet is a powerful tool that should be used to its full potential. That’s something all designers should keep in mind as they work.

David McCandless

“By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.” — David McCandless, Data Journalist

Much like some of the previous quotes, McCandless’ thoughts aim to help designers remember to keep the end result in mind. His talk centers around using the tools and space available to make an appealing, informative presentation people everywhere can appreciate. As designers, it is their job to manipulate the minor details into a big picture that makes sense and doesn’t overwhelm the consumer.

If you find your creations have gone a bit stale and are looking to rev-up your designs check out these TED quotes and videos. They should give you the eye-opening inspiration you need.

Guest author Rachel Sanders is a freelance writer and designer who creates content for various education, design, and business websites. When Rachel isn’t writing informative articles and designing websites, she likes to read, research education trends, and discuss typography. Please leave comments and questions for Rachel below. She appreciates your feedback!


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