The end of the year is a great time for many reasons, but one of the biggest for me that doesn’t involve eating, hanging out with friends and family, or mandatory days off of work is the multitude of year-in-review articles that get created in the middle of December. They can be great resources, as well as sources of inspiration and predictors of what will headed our way in 2016. These are a few that I really enjoyed at the end of 2015.

The folks at atomic.io that produce the excellent Product Design Weekly newsletter had a fantastic year end wrap up, covering great reads on everything from emerging fields like post-screen user interfaces to how designers can ensure they are never replaced by machines.

Brand New, who were the subject of last months Resources writeup, do a great little series of Best Of/Worst Of at the end of every year. These are well worth taking a look at even if you have read all of the individual posts through the year. Every year I am impressed by how much the best identities stand out from the “just really good” identities, and am even more blown away by the size of the failures of the worst of the worst rebrands.

I don’t currently use Mailchimp, but look forward to their Annual Reports (and pretty much any other content that they share with us) because they are shining examples of what a fantastic design culture can look like. They produce a beautifully designed microsite every year, and although I don’t especially care about how things like how many A/B Tests mail chimp users ran in 2015, I love to study these as examples of effective, beautiful results of marketing + design.

And finally, a not-especially-graphic-design based thing that I very much look forward to every year: The Atlantic magazine publishes a weekly online feature called the Photos of the Week, and at the end of the year they publish a series called The Year in Photos. I love these because they have a fantastic mix of pictures covering huge stories as well as powerful images that show fascinating-but-not-newsworthy moments across the globe. I feel strongly that knowing what is going on in the rest of the world only benefits us as designers, and prefer these to news article-based lists because the photos are incredible. (Warning: being a year-in-review, some of the images are fairly graphic, don’t click through if you don’t want o deal with potentially objectionable content.) If you’d like to put a designerly spin on these as you look, consider how effectively each image tells its story – what info is in the photo that helps you understand what is happening? How is it composed? How does foreground relate to background? How is color used? If something were different (a hand gesture, a building, if something was removed from the image, if the subject was positioned further to a side, etc) how would it change the meaning?

Mostly though, just marvel at the images and think about how huge and diverse our world is – and then be thankful for it.

Top 25 News Photos
Part 01: January – April
Part 02: May – August
Part 03: September – December