Although the term “user experience design” was coined in the 1990s, good design can be dated all the way back to 4000 BC. Having existed for so long, there’s a lot to learn about how a user interacts with products via design. And, any designer knows that learning the trade is a lifelong process. The environment, time period, demographic, product, and more are all huge influencers. So, it’s safe to say that the more you study about design, the better UX designer you’ll be.
Whether you’re thinking about starting a career in UX design, or are already in one, good UX books are essential resources for becoming an invaluable UX designer.
Here’s a list of some of the best UX design books available:
- The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman
- How to Use Graphic Design to Sell Things, Explain Things, Make Things Look Better, Make People Laugh, Make People Cry, and (Every Once in a While) Change the World by Michael Bierut
- 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Voices That Matter) by Susan Weinschenk
- About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper
- The Laws of Simplicity (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life) by John Maeda
- The Non-Designer’s Design Book, 4th Edition by Robin Williams
- Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience by Jeff Gothelf
- UI is Communication: How to Design Intuitive, User Centered Interfaces by Focusing on Effective Communication by Everett N. McKay
- Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) (Voices That Matter) by Steve Krug
#1 The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman
Though originally published in 1988, designers will tell you that this book rings more true today than the day it hit the bookstores. Pairing design principles with interesting stories, Norman talks about the importance of design in everyday products—such as TV remotes, light switches, etc. If a product isn’t simple enough for a consumer to intuitively figure it out, then it’s poor design. In this book, you will learn the importance of psychology in design, and the questions you should be asking yourself as you’re developing a product.
#2 How to Use Graphic Design to Sell Things, Explain Things, Make Things Look Better, Make People Laugh, Make People Cry, and (Every Once in a While) Change the World by Michael Bierut
Michael Bierut, one of this century’s most renowned creative minds, shares his insights to good design using his own work and experiences in one of the best ux design books out there. Graphic design, or UI design in a user experience designer’s world, is a very important aspect of the user experience. In this book you will learn Bierut’s creative process and what it takes to create a well-designed product.
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#3 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Voices That Matter) by Susan Weinschenk
Design is a very important aspect of business, since design directly impacts whether a consumer buys a product or not. In Weinschenk’s book, she combines real science and research with practical examples to deliver and guide every designers needs. You’ll be able to design more intuitive and engaging work for websites that match the way people think, work and play.
#4 About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper
Recent decades have shifted consumer experiences to online. Whether it’s a desktop, smartphone, or tablet, consumers have high expectations. With this book, you will take a look into what it takes to create better interaction design with modern technology. You’ll also learn state-of-the-art interface recommendations and up-to-date examples of good interface. For those creating better user experience design on modern platforms, this is a great resource.
Simplicity equals sanity. In this book, Maeda explores the idea of creating simple design while incorporating complexity. You will learn Maeda’s ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design. You’ll also learn how needing less actually gets you more. “Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.”
#6 The Non-Designer’s Design Book, 4th Edition by Robin Willams
Bad news: this book is not authored by the late comedian Robin Williams. Good news: it is one of the best UX design books available to beginners, and an easy read to boot. Now on its fourth edition, the book comes complete with quizzes and practice exercises to allow readers a chance to apply what they’ve learned. By breaking down the principles of good design to four primary elements, Williams provides valuable advice to designers and non-designers alike.
#7 Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience by Jeff Gothelf
In 2013, Gothelf’s book won the best book of the year award from Dr. Dobb’s Journal. You’ll learn how to drive the design in short, iterative cycles to assess what works best for the business and the user. It’s a tailor-made book for today’s web-driven reality, and a must read for user experience designers.
#8 UI is Communication: How to Design Intuitive, User Centered Interfaces by Focusing on Effective Communication by Everett N. McKay
At the end of every design is a person, so McKay leverages this simple principle and teaches ways to design that focus on communication between the users and the technology. McKay also reminds his audience to remember that humans are emotional creatures. Understanding that people might not always act logically is an important part of designing digital and visual interfaces to their maximum potential, helping increase usability overall. The book’s practical solutions and detailed examples make this one of the more helpful user experience books for more advanced designers.
#9 Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) (Voices That Matter) by Steve Krug
It’s no secret: this is one of the best UX books out there. Hundreds of thousands of web designers, or user experience designers, and developers have relied on Krug’s guide to help them understand the principles of intuitive navigation and information design. Witty, commonsensical, and eminently practical, it’s one of the best-loved and most recommended user experience design books. Some say this book is required for anyone working on websites.
There are many books for UX designers that act as an excellent resource on the subject. But, these nine books are a good place to start. Become a better user experience designer through other designers’ experiences, and If you want to learn more, consider teaming your independent study with a classroom or bootcamp setting!
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