hand holding a latte over the books "Sprint" and "Hooked"

Teach Yourself and Master UX Design with these 27 UX Books

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User experience designers are the new rock stars of software development and the web. They're responsible for everything you see on your screen--the user interface, graphics, layout as well as much of the behind-the-scenes aspects like ideation and research. A good UX designer can make or break a website's conversion rate or an application's adoption rate with just one design decision. User experience books can be incredibly useful in understanding concepts that outlast changes in fads and trends. They can also provide a foundation for beginners, as well as fill in knowledge gaps for experienced professionals. In this list, we will explore some of the best UX books that you can read to get started and improve your understanding of user experience. If you want to be in demand as an experienced UX professional, here are some books that will improve your career.

Getting Started/Refresher - Books for a Strong UX Foundation

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

While it wasn't written specifically for designers, it contains a wealth of insights that can be applied to the user experience field, and in fact was the start of “UX”. In particular, I love Norman's focus on human-centered design and his emphasis on the importance of feedback loops. These ideas have had a major impact on my own work, and I'm sure other UX designers would find them just as valuable. What is especially important is it does not only focus on digital interfaces, but on interactions in the physical world. If you're looking for a UX book that will challenge your assumptions and broaden your perspective, I highly recommend The Design of Everyday Things.

The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett

The Elements of User Experience is a book that every UX designer should read. The book is written by Jesse James Garrett, who is a UX expert. The book talks about the five planes of user experience, which are strategy, scope, structure, skeleton, and surface. The book also talks about the UX design process, which includes research, analysis, design, testing, and implementation. The book provides a lot of valuable insights into the world of UX design, and it is a must-read for every UX designer.

Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Don't Make Me Think is one of the most influential books on user experience design. First published in 2000, the book describes the principles of good design and how to create websites that are easy to use. While many of the book's ideas are now commonplace, it was revolutionary at the time and remains an essential read for any UX designer. The book is based on the principle that web design should be intuitive and user-friendly, and that the user should never have to think about how to use a website or app. Krug's focus on simplicity and usability has helped to shape the field of UX, and his book is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the basics of good design. Don't Make Me Think is an essential guide to the principles of usability, and it provides designers with a framework for thinking about how to create websites and apps that are easy to use.

About Face by Alan Cooper

About Face is one of the most popular books on UX design, and for good reason. Written by Alan Cooper, the book offers a comprehensive overview of the field, covering everything from user research to interface design. One of the book's key strengths is its focus on user-centered design principles and its focus on the user's psychological needs. Cooper was one of the first designers to advocate for placing users at the center of the design process, and his insights are just as relevant today as they were when the book was first published. Another key strength of About Face is its clear and concise writing style. Cooper does an excellent job of explaining complex concepts in a way that is easy to understand, making the book an ideal choice for anyone new to UX design. Whether you're just getting started in the field or have significant experience.

The User Experience Team of One by Leah Buley

So many times the UX role is a solitary position in many companies. Maybe it’s because the company is just starting to think about UX, or the product team is small in general. The book is unique because it focuses on the UX designer as an individual contributor, and it provides key insights on how to be successful in this role. The book's key takeaways include the importance of understanding the business goals of the company, being proactive in your approach to problem solving, and building relationships with stakeholders. The book also provides a framework for how to prioritize and manage your time, which is essential for any UX designer. In sum, The User Experience Team of One is an essential read for anyone who wants to be successful as a UX designer.

Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior by Indi Young

This book could also be part of the human behavior section below, but is an excellent foundation for understanding people and how they think when using your UIs. This book helps get you away from the bad use of demographics that marketing has misunderstood for so long and into focusing on behavior, including defining user segmentation.

UX designers would learn a lot by reading Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior by Indi Young. Mental Models is one of the most important books when it comes to understanding human behavior and how it can be applied to design. The book is full of insights and case studies that UX designers can use to improve their own work. One of the key takeaways from the book is that designers need to understand the mental models that users have in order to create effective designs. Mental models are the underlying beliefs and assumptions that people use to make decisions. By understanding mental models, designers can create designs that better match the way users think and behave. Another key takeaway from Mental Models is that designers should never make assumptions about how users will interact with their environments and in their workflows.

The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

The Mom Test is a book about how to talk to customers and get better feedback. The book is aimed at anyone creating a product, but the principles can be helpful for UX designers who are just learning to interview customers. The book's key takeaways are that you should never ask people if your product is good or not, because they will always say yes. Instead, you should ask them how they would use it and what their biggest problem is. The book also includes case studies from companies like Airbnb and Dropbox, which show how they used The Mom Test to get feedback from their customers. The Mom Test is a unique book because it provides specific advice on how to talk to customers, rather than general tips on design. As a result, it is an essential read for anyone who wants to build products that people actually want and will enjoy.

Accessibility Handbook by Katie Cunningham

Great deep dive into accessibility, covering visual, audio, cognitive, and physical accessibility and best practices. Accessible design is an important part of creating user-friendly products, and the Accessibility Handbook is a great resource for UX designers who want to learn more about this topic. The book covers a range of topics related to accessible design, including how to design for users with different abilities, how to create products that are easy to use for everyone, and how to make sure that your designs are compliant with accessibility standards. In addition, the book includes a number of case studies and real-world examples that illustrate the principles of accessible design in action. What sets this book apart from other accessibility resources is its focus on inclusive design. Cunningham argues that accessible design is not just about catering to users with different abilities, but about creating products that can be used by everyone. This inclusive approach is evident in the book's clear and concise explanations of accessibility concepts, as well as its wealth of practical tips and techniques. In addition, the Accessibility Handbook includes a chapter on assistive technology, which is a key area of interest for UX designers.

Information Architecture by Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville, Jorge Arango

Information Architecture, written by Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville, and Jorge Arango, is a well-known book within the UX community. The book offers a detailed overview of information architecture, discussing everything from data modeling to navigation design. One of the key takeaways from the book is the importance of creating a well-organized Information Structure. This structure will make it easier for users to find the information they need, while also helping to prevent Information Overload. Another key point that the book stressed is the importance of designing for change. As the world around us continues to evolve, our designs must be able to adapt along with it. Information Architecture offers a comprehensive look at the discipline of information architecture and is essential reading for any UX designer.

Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler

This is a great reference covering a ton of principles that affect your designs whether you are aware of them or not. Universal Principles of Design is a book that every UX designer should have as a reference. It is crammed full of insight into how design works, why we respond to certain design elements, and what principles can be applied to create better designs. The book is arranged into 25 chapters, each discussing a different design principle. Some of the key takeaways include the importance of simplicity, the power of contrast, and the need for balance. In addition, the book includes hundreds of examples of these principles in action, making it an invaluable resource for anyone interested in UX design.

Universal Methods of Design by Bruce Hanington, Bella Martin

Another great reference for the tools at your disposal when practicing all aspects of UX and product design. Research and testing methods, collaborative activities, UX maps, analysis techniques. Universal Methods of Design is a book that seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of the field of UX design. The book is divided into four sections, each of which covers a different aspect of the design process. The first section focuses on the principles of UX design, offering insights into the key concepts and methods that underpin the discipline. The second section examines the role of user research in UX design, providing readers with an understanding of how to gather and interpret user data. The third section looks at the various ways in which UX designers can create prototypes and test them with users. Finally, the fourth section explores the importance of evaluation in UX design, offering guidance on how to assess the effectiveness of designs.

Books About Human Behavior for Design

Understanding Context by Andrew Hinton

Understanding Context is a book written by Andrew Hinton that is unique in its approach to teaching UX practitioners about how people perceive context. The book's key takeaways are that context is important in understanding both the user and the situation, and that UX designers need to be aware of the different ways that context can be interpreted. Understanding Context provides a detailed analysis of the different ways that people interpret and process information, making it an essential read for anyone interested in UX design. The book's insights will help designers to create user experiences that are tailored to the specific needs and preferences of their target audience and to better understand how to make sense of cross-channel, multi-device products or services. Understanding Context is an essential read for anyone interested in creating user-centered designs.

Design for How People Think by John Whalen Ph. D.

This book digs into the physical and cognitive user experience, like how we process visual information or use language. Also covers research and topics on AI combined with human behavior. Design for How People Think is a book that explores the relationship between human behavior and design. It offers insights into how people think, process information, and make decisions. The book also covers the basics of UX, including how to conduct user research and create user-centered designs. Design for How People Think is useful as a resource in that it takes a cognitive perspective on UX design. This means that it focuses on how people think about and use products, rather than on the products themselves. The key takeaways from Design for How People Think include an understanding of how people think about and use products, as well as insights into the cognitive processes that influence how we interact with our world.

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan M. Weinschenk

Distills human behavior and cognition down for UI/UX designers. Covers A LOT, I think if you read this book you are guaranteed to improve your designs for users. As a UX designer, it's important to have a strong understanding of human behavior in order to create effective designs. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People is a great resource that covers a wide range of topics related to human psychology and behavior. The book is divided into ten sections, each of which covers a different topic area. Some of the topics covered include cognition, perception, motivation, emotion, and social interaction. Each section includes a number of subtopics, and each subtopic includes real-world examples and practical tips for designers. As a result, the book provides a wealth of useful information for UX designers who want to better understand their users.

Designing with the Mind in Mind by Jeff Johnson

My favorite book on human behavior. Covers learning behavior, decision making, how we remember actions, attention. How reading is unnatural for many people and can be challenging. Designing with the Mind in Mind by Jeff Johnson is an insightful book that provides UX designers with a better understanding of how the mind works and how this knowledge can be applied to the design process. One of the key takeaways from the book is that designers need to take into account the limitations of human cognition when designing user interfaces. For example, our short-term memory can only hold a limited amount of information, so it is important to design UI elements that are easy to understand and remember. Another key point is that the human brain is very good at pattern recognition, so designing interfaces that follow familiar patterns will help users learn and use them more effectively. People are more likely to remember information that is presented visually, so it is important to make use of images and other visual elements when designing user interfaces. Another key takeaway is that people often make irrational decisions when they are under stress or time pressure, so it is important to design user interfaces that minimize the chances of users making mistakes. Overall, Designing with the Mind in Mind is a valuable resource for any UX designer who wants to understand the "why" of great design.

UX Research & Analysis

Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches by John W. Creswell, J. David Creswell

This is one of the foundational texts on mixed methods research. Research Design is a book that explores the different approaches that can be taken when conducting research. It discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each approach, and provides guidance on how to choose the most appropriate methodology for a given project. The book also includes a section on mixed methods research, which combines both qualitative and quantitative data. This book is essential reading for any UX designer who wants to improve their research skills. The book's key takeaways are that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to research, and that mixed methods research can be a powerful tool for exploring complex topics in UX.

Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research by John W. Creswell, Vicki L. Plano Clark

Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research is a book that details how to effectively mix qualitative and quantitative approaches in order to create more well-rounded data sets. This book is unique in that it offers specific guidance on how to design studies that utilize both methods, as well as how to collect and analyze data from these studies. The key takeaways from Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research are the importance of incorporating both qualitative and quantitative approaches in research, and the need to carefully consider the study design in order to maximize the benefits of using both methods. These insights are valuable for UX designers who often need to collect both types of data in order to understand the user experience. By reading this book, UX designers can learn how to effectively design and conduct mixed methods research, and how to use the data collected from these studies to improve the user experience.

UX Research by Brad Nunnally, David Farkas

UX designers would learn a lot from reading UX Research by Brad Nunnally and David Farkas. This book is unique in that it provides UX designers with a framework and structure for conducting user research. It also covers the key takeaways from UX Research, including how to ask good research questions, when to use quantitative and qualitative research methods, and how to communicate your findings. UX designers would also benefit from the book's insights on the logistics and details of coordinating a research session, as well as its coverage of tools and approaches to uncover meaning in raw data. Overall, this book is an essential read for anyone interested in UX design or user research.

Measuring the User Experience by Bill Albert, Tom Tullis

Measuring the User Experience is a book by Bill Albert and Tom Tullis that looks into the world of experience analytics and performance around UX. The book starts by discussing analytics and how most of the tools are focused on marketing to consumers and marketing teams’ goals. However, this book dives into experience analytics and how it can be used to improve UX design and the importance of setting goals and objectives. One of the key takeaways from the book is that analytics should be used to inform design decisions, rather than just for marketing purposes. Another highlight is the discussion of different ways to measure UX, such as using surveys, interviews, focus groups, and usability testing. Overall, Measuring the User Experience is a valuable resource for anyone interested in learn more about using analytics to improve their UX

Quantifying the User Experience by Jeff Sauro, James R Lewis

Quantifying the User Experience by Jeff Sauro and James R Lewis is a great book for UX designers who want to learn more about how to measure and study the usability of their designs. The book covers a wide range of topics, from statistical methods to confidence intervals, and provides a good introduction to the necessary statistics. In addition, the book gives a detailed overview of how to use quantitative methods to benchmark and study your designs, allowing you to see exactly how your designs are performing. Finally, the book includes a number of worked examples that show you how to apply the concepts covered in the book. Overall, Quantifying the User Experience is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn more about how to measure and study the usability of their designs.

Behavioral Data Analysis with R and Python by Florent Buisson

What distinguishes UX professionals from other designers is the ability to perform user research and understand behavioral data. If you are lucky enough to be at an organization that does a lot of behavioral research and collect data, you will have a TON of data to analyze. To move beyond being a graphic designer, you will need to dig into the core of UX which can be data intensive. Behavioral Data Analysis with R and Python is a book that will help UX designers learn about the basics of behavioral data analysis for their field. The book starts with an introduction to understanding behavioral data and the importance of data-driven design. It then delves into the basics of experimental design, including how to control for confounding variables. The book also covers how to use R and Python for data analysis, which are the most common programming languages for data analysis. The key takeaways from the book include an understanding of how to use behavioral data to improve UX design, as well as an understanding of the basics of experimental design. Overall, Behavioral Data Analysis with R and Python is a valuable resource for UX designers who want to learn more about data-driven design.

Practical Web Analytics for User Experience by Michael Beasley

The Practical Web Analytics for User Experience book is a great resource for UX designers who want to learn more about analytics. The book covers a quantitative approach for measuring a website's effectiveness and the methods for posing and answering specific questions about how users navigate a website. The book also covers the concerns UX practitioners face, including traffic, clickpath, and content use analysis, measuring the effectiveness of design changes, and supporting usability test findings. The Practical Web Analytics for User Experience book is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about UX design and analytics.

Improving the User Experience through Practical Data Analytics by Mike Fritz, Paul D. Berger

The book Improving the User Experience through Practical Analytics by Mike Fritz and Paul D. Berger is a great resource for UX designers who want to learn more about using data to improve the user experience. The book covers a variety of topics, including predictive statistical techniques, the enormous potential of user data, and how to use UX research data to gain meaningful insights. The book is well-written and easy to understand, making it a great choice for those who are new to the world of data analytics. The key takeaways from the book are that data analytics can be a powerful tool for improving the user experience, and that UX designers need to be aware of the potential of user data.

The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers by Johnny Saldana

This deep dive into coding will teach you all of the approaches to making sense of your research data. Coding transcripts and other research output is how you gain research insights instead of being overwhelmed. The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers is a book that provides insights on how to code qualitative data for UX research. The book covers various topics such as what research coding is, how to write analytic memos, first cycle coding methods, second cycle coding methods, and how to code qualitative UX research data. The highlights of the book include its clear and concise explanations of each topic, as well as its numerous examples that illustrate each concept. The key takeaways from the book are that coding research data can be a useful tool for analyzing and understanding UX research data, and that there are different methods that can be used depending on the type of data being coded. Overall, The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers is an essential read for anyone interested in learning how to better gain and share useful insights from research data with your team.

Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction by Jonathan Lazar, Jinjuan Heidi Feng, Harry Hochheiser

This book runs through the gamut of research activities a UX professional should know about. As a UX researcher, I am always looking for new ways to collect and analyze data. Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction by Jonathan Lazar, Jinjuan Heidi Feng, and Harry Hochheiser is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about research methods in HCI. The book covers a broad range of topics relevant to the collection and analysis of HCI data, going beyond experimental design and surveys, to cover ethnography, diaries, physiological measurements, case studies, and crowdsourcing. Each chapter provides an overview of a particular method, along with advantages and disadvantages, so that readers can choose the best method for their needs. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about research methods.

Extra Credit

Service Design: From Insight to Implementation by Andy Polaine, Lavrans Løvlie, Ben Reason

Service design is a parallel and related skillset to what many UX generalists do, but at a higher level in the organization. Instead of focusing on features or a single product, service design focuses on the overall service and lifetime of users. This is an important way to bring a more strategic role to your career as a UX designer or engineer. I like this book because it succinctly covers the entire area of service design in a concise and clear manner. For UX roles understanding the service design approach will broaden how you view “design” in relation to silos and teams. The product experience isn’t isolated to just the UI, but also with customer support, the help website, and the sales process. All of this sets up the user for success or failure when actually using the product. You can read more about service design blueprints in our articles.

Sprint, How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp

This specific method of design sprint works exceptionally well for creating solutions to sticky problems. A lot of teams do what they call a design sprint, but this has specific methods to bring in stakeholders to the ideation process while not falling into many of the traps of brainstorming sessions. The process in “Sprint” has delivered big benefits to our users and team whenever we’ve used it.

Summary

This is a huge list of books, you don’t need to read them all at once. I’ve read these over the course of a 20+ year career. Choosing what to read based on weaknesses in my knowledge, interest in mastering my craft of software engineering and the needs of a current project. If you are looking to get started in UX design, or want to take your skills to the next level, these books will give you a great foundation. Each book covers different aspects of user experience and provides valuable information that can help you create amazing user experiences for your users. With this knowledge, you can become a master at the craft of UX design and create websites and applications that people will love to use. What are you waiting for? Start reading!

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