The two design podcasts that completely changed my mind on the genre.
Every day I commute for about 40 minutes to an hour (depending on the terrible Scottish traffic). I love my job, but let’s be honest, that ride gets a little boring and Spotify can only take me so far.
I started looking for weird music just to fill my time, staring out the bus window to the increasingly dark winter mornings
That is until one day when I opened Spotify and the first suggestion on my homepage wasn’t an album or a daily playlist, but a podcast called StartUp.
The genius behind “StartUp”
If you think of podcasts, it’s likely the first thing that comes to your mind is a round table discussion with little direction or planning. Maybe a stimulating chat between friends at best. That’s where StartUp differentiates itself from the masses.
While Startup doesn’t exactly fall under the “design podcasts” category, I still found a lot of it was related to things that were closely related to many aspects of design.
StartUp’s format is more akin to a an audio story. It follows entrepreneur Alex Blumberg and documents his journey to create his own Start Up: Gimlet Media (a podcast company that specialises in these story-like podcasts).
What makes StartUp so incredibly captivating is that it is not only a great story but also explains step by step the process of creating a Start Up. From inception, to investor meetings and acquiring funding.
All of this is documented thanks to recordings of the most important conversations between Alex and the people around him, as well as commentary from the people involved.
While Gimlet Media set out to create an interesting story, they ended up with much more. StartUp, in fact, serves as an excellent learning tool for anyone interested in creating a business from an idea.
StartUp explores every step of the process, using insights from people who have already tried, failed and succeeded.
Delving deeper: the Wireframe Podcast by Adobe
Once I’d finished with the first season of Startup, which officially concludes the Gimlet saga, my commute felt empty again. Sure, there are more seasons, but they follow other companies that I’m less interested in. I needed something else to peak my interest.
This is where Spotify and Gimlet Media came to the rescue once more. Now that I was aware of (and, in fact, cared about) this company, all I needed to do was search their productions.
That is exactly how I stumbled upon Wireframe, a UX design podcast created in collaboration with Adobe. Hosted by Khoi Vinh – Design Director of The New York Times, and one of Fast Company‘s “50 most influential designers in America”. Wireframe is a podcast about various aspects of UX in everyday life.
The first episode hooked me. Rather than starting with a traditional UX subject, Wireframe decided to explore the Three Mile Island incident and what it means for UX. Their explanations are accompanied by re-enactments and a thorough explanation of what happened. And honestly, it was gripping.
The podcast is a wild ride between UX issues you’re very aware of and some so obvious that you might not even notice. If you’re passionate about this kind of thing, this podcast will make you want to do some UX work right after listening.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget there are many different ways to learn about design. It’s equally easy to forget that there are many ways to structure a podcast too. I’m glad I ended up stumbling upon something as special as Gimlet Media. They definitely stand out from the crowd in that they’re doing something undeniably different.
I look forward to seeing Gimlet Media grow further, and seeing how they impact the podcast medium for the better. Maybe they’ll even bring UX as a subject into popular discussion. This designer sure hopes so.