Best UX books for design inspiration

Fabricio Teixeira (UX Design Director @ San Francisco):

I think our discipline requires a learning model that is more dynamic and flexible than user experience books. UX blogs and sites are my favorite source of information, and I spend at least an hour a day reading about topics that relate to what I do everyday. That being said, there was one book that really helped get me hooked into UX: The Design of Everyday Things. Strongly recommended.

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Samuel Hulick (UX designer from Portland):

I remember devouring every single episode of the UIE Brain Sparks podcast five or so years ago. I don't really listen to work-related podcasts anymore, but I bet it's still great. Also, lots and lots of UX book-reading, especially Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think".

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Dan Saffer (Interaction designer and author @ San Francisco)

The Design of Everyday Things is still the primer. I’d choose that over pretty much any straight up UX book for explaining what we do and why it matters, because now, apps and devices are those “everyday things". That being said, there’s a lot of great books out there. Just a sample:

  • 79 Short Essays on Design, Michael Bierut
  • The Humane Interface, Jef Raskin
  • Designing for People, Henry Dreyfuss
  • Universal Principles of Design, William Lidwell
  • Designing Products People Love, Scott Hurff
  • What Things Do, Peter-Paul Verbeek

But honestly, I also recommend every designer read fiction as well, especially historical fiction and science fiction. You want to be able to see the world through different viewpoints and be able to comprehend different outcomes, and fiction is great for that.

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Robin Richards (user experience designer)

Any manuals and tutorials. Find the hardest thing is to make that idea as good or better that you see it in your imagination, and working out how to use the right tools to do that is an ongoing losing struggle.

As a counter point to this I do greatly enjoy any book which addresses the emotion of design - looking at the why instead of the how. An fantastic example of this is The Manual.

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Jorge Arango (Information architect and user experience designer)

Books are essential for the way I understand and learn about my discipline. They provide the intellectual foundation that allows me to design effectively with colleagues, clients, and users.

My list of foundational books is very long, but here are some of the most important in no particular order:

  • "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman
  • "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug
  • "About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design" by Alan Cooper et al
  • "Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind" by George Lakoff
  • "Metaphors We Live By" by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson
  • The Rosenfeld Media books.

And of course, the polar bear book.

There are so many others books on UX Design, though! Watch less cat videos and use the time you save to read more books.

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Jason Pamental (UX designer & technical strategist)

There are a lot of ux design books! I try and read regularly: articles, blogs & books are all fair game. Two of my earliest favorites though really stuck with me: 'Elements of User Experience' by Jesse James Garrett, ‘Subject to Change’ by Peter Merholz, Todd Wilkens, Brandon Schauer, and David Verba, and ‘ The Design of Everyday Things’ by Don Norman.

They really taught be that UX is about far more than the pixels on the screen, and really encompasses every part of the interaction between the user and the product or site. More recently there have been a ton of great posts on Medium (UX tag) that are often collected from elsewhere on the web.

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Melissa Perri (UX Consultant)

I would highly recommend following books on UX design:

  • Lean UX
  • The Design of Everyday Things
  • Badass: Making User’s Awesome

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