My Top Five Favorite UX Books

My primary gig is UX, and I get asked all the time what my favorite books are about user experience design. People who want to get into the field ask me all the time what they should read to get started.

Truth is, I’ve read a lot of books on UX, and I could recommend any number of them depending on what you’re looking for. However, a few stand out among the rest as the best books for getting into UX and learning the foundational bits about the discipline.

Here are my five favorites, in no particular order:

The Design of Everyday Things - Don Norman

This book is an absolute classic, and goes deep into the psychology of how humans interact with interfaces. The great thing about this book is that it was written in the 80s, so all the concepts are pre-Web. That said, every concept in the book is transferable to our work designing interfaces for digital media. Put frankly, the basics of interface interactions never change. Norman covers everything from light switches, to car dashboards, to stovetops in this book. One of my all time favorite books, period.

Sketching User Experiences - Bill Buxton

Much of design is about making sure you’re designing the right thing, then worrying about how to design it right (to paraphrase Buxton). This book is a fantastic look at the overall design process, from research to implementation, with wonderful case studies that help to drive home the points. Buxton arranges the book in a really compelling way, and the concepts covered here are guaranteed to make you reevaluate how you go about the design process as a whole.

Don’t Make Me Think - Steve Krug

Krug’s book is one of the seminal books for down-to-earth usability advice, covering everything from how pages are laid out to effective navigation strategies. Where the previous book is heavy on process and theory, this book can’t be more practical. It’s a handbook for making everything on the web instantly more usable.

Change By Design - Tim Brown

This isn’t about UX per se, but more about the broader product design process that IDEO uses in their practice. IDEO is a hugely popular and well respected design firm and this book, written by their CEO, is a fantastic look into their process. For me, it’s wonderfully apropos as user experience designers, as the same process they use to design consumer goods and services is the same process we can use as we design digital goods, and it all starts with understanding the people we’re designing for.

The User Is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web - Steve Mulder and Ziv Yaar

Speaking of understanding the people we’re designing for, this book is a great handbook on taking user research and making it work beautifully in your organization, by creating and socializing personas throughout the company. Personas are a fantastic artifact for summarizing user research in a way that makes it real and actionable as you design. This book walks through that research process and how best to capture those personas.

There are a ton more books I could list here, but these are the five that spring to the top of my head. This list ranges from high-level strategic design and process-oriented material, down to the page-level usability bits and pieces, and that kind of broad view of the UX process is absolutely required if you’re doing to design products well.

Related Posts

I Launched a New Podcast, and I Want You to Call In

I just launched a new podcast called Design By Committee, dedicated to answering your questions about UX, product design, content, strategy and anything else tech.

Shitty Sales Have Made Product Development Harder

Shitty, one-sided sales processes have made product development much more difficult for early stage startups.

Why I'm Cold Emailing You

You might have gotten a cold email from me. Tasteless? Some people think so. Here's why I'm doing it.

How I Found Your Email

I've been cold emailing a lot of people, and many folks are surprised that I found their email. Here's where I dug it up.

Announcement: The Most Exciting Thing I've Done

Today, I'm announcing the most exciting project I've been involved with. It's called CrowdSync, and it helps to automate paperwork, communication and logistics when dealing with groups of people. Read on for why this is so big.

How to Post to Private Slack Channels from Zapier

If you automate posting to Slack via Zapier, you might need to post to a private channel. It's not entirely obvious how to do it, but actually pretty damn easy.

Sharing is the Currency of the Web

You consume free content all day on the web. The best way to pay back the people creating it? Share it.

The Magic of Low Fidelity

High-fidelity documentation is great, but it has a hidden dark side. Learn to embrace low-fidelity documentation, and you'll be amazed at the benefits.

Why You Should Blog More (Data)

When you stop blogging, people stop coming. Simple enough. Here's the proof.

Using a Linter Will Make You a Better Dev

Using a linter while you write code won't only make your code better formatted, it'll make you a better programmer.