Written by Jerry Cao

Design, if anything, is about applying different perspectives to problem-solving.

We’ve collected ten of the most controversial, philosophy-challenging, thought-provoking articles on UX design, because in a career that involves so much empathy, you can’t afford to be one-sided.

1. When It Comes to UX Design, Simplicity is Overrated(Wired)

“Good UX is simple” is a long-accepted maxim of UX design, that it’s almost shocking when someone says otherwise. But Robert Hoekman Jr.’s article seeks a more complicated explanation for simplicity, and isolates the more complex qualities of UX design that we only perceive as “simple.”

2. How Apple Is Giving Design a Bad Name (Fast Company)

There are those designers who think Apple can do no wrong, but Don Norman and Bruce Tognazzini point out how far they have fallen. With Tognazzini having worked at early Apple with Steve Jobs, the authors draw attention to how and why Apple abandoned some of the principles that once made it great.

3. Why Web Design is Dead (UX Mag)

No one that works in a web design field wants to hear this, but Sergio Nouvel makes some strong points regardless. The extreme title aside, the article delves into how web design is changing recently, and why, touching on topics ranging from Facebook’s business pages as a main online presence, to the upheaval caused by mobile browsing.

4. Web Design is NOT Dead, You’re Just Talking About It Wrong (UX Mag)

In response to Nouvel’s controversial piece above, Nick Dank comes to the defense of web design and counterattacks each of the initial piece’s arguments. Interestingly, he simultaneously ends up agreeing with Nouvel on quite a few points.

5. We Own You (Medium)

In the design industry equivalent of “sticking it to the Man,” Justin Jackson vents his frustration about the hypocrisy of tech companies’ falsely encouraging equality, but in actuality treat their employers as expendable servants. To preserve creative integrity, he suggests that everyone save time for personal side projects.

6. Designers Should Design, Coders Should Code (Fast Company)

Our own UXPin team tackle age old debate of “should designers bother with code?” with a resounding “no.” The piece explores both sides before ultimately landing on the separation of the disciplines, but with closer collaboration between them.

7. 7 Signs This Person Isn’t Actually a UX Designer (UX Mastery)

While our industry is flush with confusion over job titles, there are a lot of charlatans posing as UX designers. Emil Lamprecht’s poignant article is aimed at recruiters, but is informed enough to win the appreciation (or disdain) of everyone in the industry.

8. Why Design By Committee Should Die (Smashing Magazine)

Ever hear the one about how a camel is a horse designed by committee? This feature by Speider Schneider elaborates on what many of us have always known to be true: committees simply don’t make effective designers. Thankfully, he offers more practical alternatives at the end.

9. A UX Legend on the Much-Rumored Death of the Design Firm (Fast Company)

With the expansion of the UX practice, more companies are opting for in-house practitioners instead of hiring outside design firms. UX guru Alan Cooper weighs in, explaining that the efficiency of in-house designers isn’t worth the loss of independence.

10. Why We Should Design Some Things to be Difficult to Use (Wired)

Of all the items on this list, Brian Miller’s article is the one that deviates most from theory to offer practical, applicable UX design advice. Read his five points about when, how, and why to instill a little challenge in your UX.

Further Reading

One of the main reasons these pieces are so controversial is that they draw attention to the changes in UX design. Rather than going down the ship, the best course of survival in this industry is to stay current.

If you’d like to learn more about other trends and techniques, check out the additional resources below.