UX READING LIST
Here's a curated UX reading list of the top 35 user experience books, including my own opinion of why each is worth reading. Loosely categorized by general UX (the majority), graphic design and design careers.
|UX Book Title||Author||Why you should read it|
|Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition)||Steve Krug||Extremely fun and easy to read, Steve Krug's book covers common usability problems and their commonsense solutions. Amazing illustrations, sense of humor and practicality make this one of my top choices for UX beginners to read first.|
The follow up companion book "Rocket Surgery Made Easy" (http://amzn.to/2fFrCZD) dives into HOW to conduct tests with exact steps, scripts and procedures all the while maintaining Krug's illustrative and humorous approach.
|The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond (2nd Edition)||Jesse James Garrett||I constantly reference this book's "5 planes" concept, which succinctly explains user experience through the layers of strategy, scope, structure, skeleton, and surface. Jesse James Garrett ("JJG") provides a robust framework for making and evaluating design decisions. The ideas are accompanied with memorable illustrations, and have stood the test a time. A true UX classic.|
|The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition||Don Norman||This is a book about perception: observing every day objects, products and experiences through the lens of design.|
|A Project Guide to UX Design||Ross Unger||On the same level as Design for the Digital Age, with much more of a business focus: the ROI of UX, "selling" stakeholders on the value of UX and managing UX design projects. A great reference for every stage of the design process, especially when you're deep in a UX project and need tips and best practices on execution.|
|Just Enough Research||Erika Hall||My absolute #1 recommended book on user research. Succinct, easy-to-read yet comprehensive, Just Enough Research is perfect whether you're just learning user research or need to conduct quick-yet-effective guerilla UX research. An indispensable guide that focuses on practical discovery of users' needs.|
|Observing the User Experience||Elizabeth Goodman, Mike Kuniavsky, Andrea Moed||A wealth of user research information covering 13 UX research techniques in detail. Filled with real world examples and case studies. Consider this the big sister to the leaner "Just Enough Research," Observing the User Experience is often found as required reading in UX classes.|
|Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services||Kim Goodwin||If you're looking for the bible of UX that covers the design process from A-Z, this is the closest bet. While it is a a bit dense, Designing for the Digital Age is a veritable handbook that will serve as a trusty companion for implementing all stages of the user-centered process.|
|The User Experience Team of One||Leah Buley||Often times designers find themselves in a UX team of one, working solo in a startup, first hire as a agency, or independently as a freelancer. Consider Leah Buley's work to be a condensed, action-oriented version of encyclopedic tomes like Design for the Digital Age.|
|Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design||Jennifer Tidwell||The best introduction to user interface design that all UX beginners should read. This is a reference book covering 100 UI patterns, with detailed illustrations of the what, when, why, and how to use each pattern. If you ever struggle with remembering what a UI element or pattern is called, this is the reference that tells you what it is. Greatly helpful in developing a design vocabulary, especially when collaborating with other designers, programmers and product teams.|
|Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks||Luke Wroblewski||This is one of those books that seem a bit niche and specific at first, but makes you look at digital design COMPLETELY differently after reading. Luke Wroblewski makes the claim that forms are a constant part of user experience, because it is the primarily form of taking user input - and this experience is fraught with bad design. This book is technical while being enjoyable to read, with dozens of real-life examples of good and bad web forms. Read this book once and you'll immediately learn the best practices of form design.|
|Universal Principles of Design||William Lidwell||How do you know whether a design is good or bad? Is there any science or research backing up your decision? Universal Principles of Design provides you 125 principles that range from cognitive psychology to usability, helping readers approach design with more rationale and scientific basis.|
|100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People||Susan Weinschenk||A pop-psych book offering digestable tips on how to apply neuroscience research to design, such as how to improve conversion rates and reduce common usability errors. Great reference book similar to Universal Principles of Design that's easy to pick up and flip through.|
|About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design||Alan Cooper||Alan Cooper popularized the use of personas in the design process. This speaks to his tremendous experience designing across the decades, which is contained in this long-but-fun tome on user centered design. There's a focus on methods and philosophies from a design management perspective in order to build happy, collaborative teams between designers, programmers and business executives.|
|Information Architecture for the Web and Beyond||Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville||Lovingly referred to as the "Polar Bear book," this is THE exhaustive reference guide to information architecture. Includes detailed guides on core IA topics like organization, labeling, navigation, search, and metadata. Learn the processes and methods that take you from initial strategy to final IA implementation.|
|The Non-Designer's Design Book||Robin Williams||My most recommended book on visual design principles & basics. Particularly useful for those transitioning from a non-graphic design background, this book makes the 4 design principles easy to remember with the acronym CRAP: contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity. With extensive visual examples, beginner designers will immediately upgrade their visual design skills after reading this book.|
|Layout Essentials: 100 Design Principles for Using Grids||Beth Tondreau||I recommend this book over the popular "Grid Systems in Graphic Design," which is quite outdated and focuses on print design.|
|The Elements of Typographic Style||Robert Bringhurst||Recommend this over the popular Thinking with Type, more updated.|
|Interaction of Color: 50th Anniversary Edition||Josef Albers||Often the default text on color theory in classrooms around the world, for a good reason. Combines clear color theory (say that 5x fast) with practical exercises, if you need one book to increase visual literacy WRT color, this is it.|
Also recommended: The Secret Lives of Color (https://amzn.to/2LxXO2B) by Kassia Clair, which provides fascinating history of 75 colors. Great companion book to learn the context and interesting stories behind the colors we see veryday.
|The Visual Display of Quantitative Information||Edward Tufte||Don't dismiss the length and academic nature of this book. It will help you see design in a different way, especially since so much of design concerns numbers: charts, graphs, statistics and more. If you've ever had to design a dashboard or represent quantitative information visually, this is a detailed read containing 250 illustrations of the best and worst statistical graphics. Edward Tufte's other works like Envisioning Information and Beautiful Evidence are just as nuanced and eloquent, and often show up on academic reading lists in design & stats classes.|
|Sketching User Experiences||Bill Buxton||How do you come up with new ideas for design? You brainstorm, iterate and sketch many ideas, and Sketching User Experiences teaches you exactly how to do that. This book focuses on how to generate and test a variety of ideas about an experience in order to arrive at the best user-centered solution. Much more of a "this is how you approach UX" from a hands-on level, rather than "this is how you design a UI" book. |
Entertaining read full of amazing illustrations and stories about how the role of user experience fit into today's businesses.
The companion guide "Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook" (https://amzn.to/2uMSvmm) is a more hands-on application of the principles taught in the first book. It contains tons of excersies that'll have you sketching UIs in no time. Quick way for UX beginners to level up basic sketching, ideation and brainstorming skills. Also very handy when it comes to the design challenges & whiteboard exercises that are common in UX interviews.
|A Smarter Way to Learn HTML & CSS||Mark Myers||Are you a designer who wants to learn how to code? There are hundreds of books on HTML & CSS, but Mark Myers' is hands-down the most practical. The 400+ perfect reviews on Amazon are a testament to this book's radical approach: digestable chapters that each have a practical exercise to drill new concepts into memory.|
|Content Strategy for the Web||Kristina Halvorson||The bible on content strategy. Comprehensive and well-written guide on the stages of content strategy and how to approach content strategy projects. You will love this book if you are a designer-writer hybrid.|
|Everybody Writes||Ann Handley||Writing is design. If you're a designer, working with copy and the written word are unavoidable - might as well get good at it. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley shows you how, covering practical advice from storytelling to grammar to the writing process.|
|Articulating Design Decisions||Tom Greever||Half the difficulty of any job is communication. Design is no exception: it doesn't matter how good your design is if it gets rejected. How do you justify your design decisions, or especially with non-designers in a compelling way? This is a practical guide on the principles and tactics for articulating design decisions with a variety of stakeholders who have an influence over the project. I love all the scripts and templates included in the book that make communicating difficult things WAY easier.|
|UX for Lean Startups||Laura Klein||If you're going to be designing at a startup or any agile team, this book will teach you how to design and collaborate in a lean way. This means focusing on speed and results over design artifacts and deliverables. I prefer this book over Jeff Gotheld's "Lean UX" as it is much more practical for UX designers.|
|Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days||Jake Knapp||The 5 day design sprints popularized at Google are now made available in Sprint, which outlines the start-to-finish process for rapid user research and product development. If you or your team are facing a roadblock, Sprint offers a quick framework for busting through product problems and creative barriers.|
|Lean Analytics||Alistair Croll, Benjamin Yoskovitz||A complete book on applying the LEAN methodology to business metrics that helps product teams answer the question: "What should we measure and how do we do it?" An enlightening read on what metrics are important versus "vanity" metrics, all for the purpose of validating problems in order to build the right product for the right users. A dense-but-practical read with 30+ case studies on how real companies have applied useful metrics to take. taken an initial idea to product.|
|Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics||William Albert, Thomas Tullis||Love numbers? Are you a data nerd who welcomes data as a big part of a rigorous design process? This is the go-to book on user experience metrics that deep-dives into 5 categories: performance, issues-based, self-reported, derived, and behavioral. Full of case studies and practical methods for collecting, analyzing and presenting the data.|
|Service Design: From Insights to Inspiration||Andy Polaine||Service design is an important and growing niche that goes beyond designing for screens, but for entire experiences and processes. I've found the book's model of pre / during / post service as a particularly helpful mental model. A must read for new service designers and anyone interested in improving processes from a macro level.|
|Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products||Nir Eyal||Learn the psychology of user behavior, and the interaction loops that make experiences addictive. Nir Eyal introduces a framework that applies neuroscience & cognitive behavior research to interaction design. The last chapters on the ethics of addictive design are particularly thought provoking.|
|The Best Interface Is No Interface||Golden Krishna||A counterintuitive read about the state of digital design and screen addiction. Hilarious and punchy, Golden Krishna explores three principles for less screens and more innovation. Really makes you think about where the future of UX & UI can (or should?) go.|
|The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles||Steven Pressfield||This is the book to read if you've ran into a block with your creative work, or need some inspiration. Pressfield's thoughts on "the Resistance" that all artists and designers deals with is worth the price of admission itself. More of a "meta" book about dedication to craft, and a spiritual elevation of what work can be.|
|It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be||Paul Arden||In the same class as Pressfield's The War of Art, this book is the ultimate inspiration for those beginning their creative careers. Everyone's prone to self-comparison and impostor's syndrome. But Paul Arden eloquently argues - by alternating between life lessons and marketing concepts - that the desire to good work is all that's required to start a fruitful career.|
|Design is a Job||Mike Monteiro||Mike Monteiro is a love-him-or-hate-him type of personality. I happen to love his no-nonsense, practical style in explaining how designers can get client work - and how to deal with them after. Especially useful for designers in a freelance or agency environment. His follow up "You're my favorite client" expands on how relationships between client and design partner go wrong, how to fix them and what problems to avoid. Very useful for senior and executive level designers and their clients.|