UX Book List

I frequently get asked by people (especially devs) if I have books that I can recommend for them to gain some UX skills. So this post is my attempt to save this list somewhere.  It is by no means comprehensive, but these are books that I’ve either read or at least skimmed through.  Hope it helps!

This one is still a classic on the basics of UX, in my book. It has a fair amount of practical advice, too.

Bill Buxton’s classic is another good foundational book for thinking about good design, helping people to understand core aspects of design activities and breaking bad habits.

Luke Wroblewski’s book on Web forms is by far one of the most practical, goodness-packed books on of the most common aspects of Web UX.

Stories are a core way to communicate the real life of people who are not us. They can inform and establish empathy. This book provides good guidance on how to leverage them in UX/Design efforts.

If you’re more of an intellectual type, you might like this one that delves more into some of the intellectual and philosophical underpinnings of interaction design. John Kolko’s style is both approachable and intellectually stimulating.

No such listing would be complete without Donald Norman’s Design of Everyday Things, and also, his Emotional Design. Norman’s work is foundational in the field of UX, and he’s still a well-respected thought leader.

Although there is a newer book by Zaki Warfel on software prototyping, which looks promising, I’ve only skimmed it. I have however read this one by Arnowitz. Both books have a foundational section and then a “with this tool” section, so if you mainly want specific pointers on tools, it might be better to get the newer one. However, for a solid education on software prototyping and practical advice on how/when, I can definitely recommend Arnowitz’s book.BTW, shameless plug: one tool not in either book (cuz it’s not quite released yet!) is Indigo Studio–check it out! 🙂

Back on the intellectual/theoretical track, this book is absolutely amazing in laying down foundational Design principles, and it was written with physical architecture in mind.  This is the theoretical underpinnings of Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language, which was the foundation for all of the software design pattern work, including the several books and online resources available for these.

Honestly, I could keep adding books all day. There are a ton of good books out there. These are just a few that have stuck with me over the years, and certainly, if one were to read them and internalize their contents, you couldn’t help not being better about designing for good UX.

That said, there’s no substitute for practice.  And I’d also note, that the practice takes a lot of discipline–even the most erudite designer can lose discipline and start just shooting things off from the hip. Sometimes you have to do this, but it should definitely be the exception, especially for core aspects of whatever you’re designing.

If you want some succinct practices, I suggest my “UX for Devs Manifesto” that has some very direct, concrete principles that I’ve found to be central to the practice of good design, based on my own study, learning from other professionals in the space, and practice.