UX Pickle

Top 5 must-read books for UX designers

Reading Time - 3 min

We’ve covered a ton of UX related resources in the past, but we thought we’d take the time to highlight the five must-read books for UX designers. These are books that have changed the way we approach our work, and they’ve done so in a way that’s almost universally applicable to almost any UX designer. It’s important to understand that not every designer will agree on the merits of each book, and that there are very valid criticisms of many of them. The most important part of reading these books is that you understand the critiques and, if you choose to accept them, then at least you know that you’re operating within a defined system, rather than just making it up as you go along.

1. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Don’t Make Me Think teaches UX designers how to create amazing user experiences in a straightforward and approachable manner. Since its publication in the year 2000, it is already one of the industry’s defining publications and a vital resource for UX experts all around the world.

Steve Krug wrote Don’t Make Me Think to help individuals think like usability professionals. It was intended to be brief, succinct, and to the point. The concept is that if it can be read in under two hours and uncover all of the most essential principles of usability, it will be much simpler to convince individuals who don’t typically have responsibility for UX to support the ideas and promote them inside their companies.

2. Beautiful Visualization by Julie Steele and Noah Iliinsky

Many individuals who are interested in visualizations believe that it is only a question of learning a few tools, but there is more to it.  You learn about data and what questions to pose and discover that if you don’t know what questions to ask, you’ll just wind up with a visualization that’s useless.

Design is also important in communicating the message you wish to send. So it’s fantastic that there’s a resource that can assist you in getting into the minds of the professionals. (Yau, 2011)

3. Universal Principles of Design by Andrew Dlugan

A book about design principles should be well-designed and easy to read, right? This book lives up to that promise. This book is laid out in a succession of two-page spreads (a written description on the left and visual examples on the right). It’s a delight to read because of the consistent format that is followed throughout the course of the book.

Rather than being restricted to a certain sub-practice, such as graphic or industrial design, Dlugan considers design as a comprehensive discipline with universal principles.

4. Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell

The book is full of useful information and subtleties that Tidwell brings to the subject. The patterns that Tidwell presents in her book aren’t only for the Web or the desktop. Any designer who works with interactions will find designing interfaces to be a valuable resource.

Tidwell begins each chapter with a review of the patterns covered in that chapter, as well as their connections to wider principles in interface design. These initial paragraphs assist us in better understanding her rationale and allowing us to determine whether or not her choices are reasonable.

5. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

One of the most important ones among the must-read books for UX designers is Don Norman’s classic. Basic psychological ideas from fields such as cognitive psychology are introduced and linked to usability and design in this book. The book sheds light on how design acts as a conduit of communication between item and user and how to maximize that conduit to make utilizing objects a joyful experience.

The book is an excellent introduction to the fundamentals of user experience design and how to understand the potential of creating products that connect with people. It also discusses user-centred design concepts, user experience best practices, and design thinking. (UXmatters, n.d.-b)

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