Five Interactive Designers Share Their Treasured Finds (Communication Arts)

March/April 2017

Image courtesy Communication Arts

Image courtesy Communication Arts

Kelsie Van Deman, Irene Au, Husani Oakley, Tobias Van Schneider and Rebecca Ussai share their favorite interactive design resources.

Kelsie Van Deman

Idea corkboard: I am a big fan of Pinterest. I have Pinterest boards for pretty much everything in my life. It is a fantastic way to organize inspiration for projects, emerging tech, dream vacation destinations and Halloween costumes for your dog. 

Art, upended: Google’s Tilt Brush app for virtual reality is a game changer for creative people across many industries. I love seeing the look of awe on kids, clients and artists alike the first time they step inside a 3-D space and paint using Tilt Brush. When you’re literally standing in the middle of your own artwork, the creativity just pours out. 

Vulnerable to success: This year, I watched Dr. Brené Brown’s TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” and was immediately inspired to read her books. I always assumed that showing any type of vulnerability at work would be seen as a weakness, but Brown argues that it’s our biggest strength.

Irene Au

Psychology meets design: The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman, changed my life. I first read it when I was in graduate school. The book gave me a framework for thinking about how I could shape my career by merging my interests in psychology and technology.

Great UX, in real life: My family enjoys staying at the Upper House in Hong Kong, our favorite hotel in the world. Its restaurant Café Gray Deluxe has the most amazing pancake, which we dubbed “The Life-Changing Pancake.” Recently when my husband stayed there, the staff had the pancake waiting for him as he arrived! I’m blown away by the hotel’s level of attention to personal details and the extent to which it meets customer needs before the customer is even conscious of the need.

End-of-day ritual: Before going to bed, I always spend a few moments in supported fish pose (salamba matsyasana) to open my chest, back and shoulders and in reclined bound angle pose (supta baddha konasana) with sandbags on my legs to open my hips. It’s a great way to end the day—the whole body is open.

Husani Oakley

Fresh media: The Wall Street Journals piece exploring the music of Hamilton ( is a fantastic example of what can happen when technology and design are blended. Its methodology is enlightening ( 

Well of inspiration: CodePen ( is a great resource for not only viewing inspiring design elements, but also the code to execute them. Sometimes, these ideas just exist on their own, waiting to inspire a small part of a much larger idea or project. Isn’t that what’s amazing about the Internet? All these talented minds expressing themselves, being able to dip into the well of everything and pull out something interesting, something inspiring, something actionable. It’s fantastic.

Under-the-radar site: A Periodic Table of Motion (

Emerging talent: Tiffany Rayside’s work (@tmrDevelops on Twitter, is phenomenal. 

Literary magic: Stop what you’re doing and go read Virginia Heffernan’s Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art. It will change how you think about the medium we work in. 

Tobias Van Schneider

Online library: I collect all my reading recommendations on my website at Two books I recently enjoyed a lot are Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Businessand Ryan Holiday’s Ego Is the Enemy. I always recommend that every designer read as many books as possible outside the traditional design field.

Daily dose of humor: Always “Poorly Drawn Lines”—every day!

Reliable news: Definitely Twitter. I mean, just following inspiring people and friends is enough to stay inspired and informed. I rarely read the news or follow any tech sites. All the news I get is straight from Twitter. I use Twitter’s list feature a lot, so I basically set up my own news dashboard, powered by the people.

Rebecca Ussai

Trend forecaster: R/GA curates a newsletter and trend report called FutureVision. Articles on noteworthy emerging technology and other trends are shared daily. Every other month or so, the leadership team publishes deeper trend briefs and perspectives on relevant topics, such as “Connected Commerce.”

Shots of energy: I love using the sites Pttrns ( and siteInspire (, the browser extension Muzli, and the blog Little Big Details. The discovery phase of projects is always my favorite and the most energizing.

Required reading: The article “Design Machines,” by Travis Gertz. It’s about how there is a culture of sameness happening in design and how a lot of that is because we’re really comfortable just looking at what “this other successful site did” and because analytics sometimes takes priority. It was half wake-up call, half rally cry. Designers need to trust their intuition and be brave enough to craft an experience that can stand out.

Husani Oakley