Our list of 21 best books on UX

Our list of 21 best books on UX

There is a whole year ahead of us, which means plenty of time for self improvement. Presenting our collection of good reads to keep you busy till the end of the year.

Predictably Irrational (Dan Ariely)

Predictably Irrational (Dan Ariely)“Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, we consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They’re systematic and predictable—making us predictably irrational.”

Lean UX (Jeff Gothelf)

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“Inspired by Lean and Agile development theories, Lean UX lets you focus on the actual experience being designed, rather than deliverables. This book shows you how to collaborate closely with other members of the product team, and gather feedback early and often. You’ll learn how to drive the design in short, iterative cycles to assess what works best for the business and the user. Lean UX shows you how to make this change—for the better.”

The Design of Everyday Things (Don Norman)

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“Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this ingenious—even liberating—book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization. The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. The rules are simple: make things visible, exploit natural relationships that couple function and control, and make intelligent use of constraints. The goal: guide the user effortlessly to the right action on the right control at the right time.”

Observing the User Experience (Elizabeth Goodman)

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“The gap between who designers and developers imagine their users are, and who those users really are can be the biggest problem with product development. Observing the User Experience will help you bridge that gap to understand what your users want and need from your product, and whether they’ll be able to use what you’ve created.”

Playful Design (John Ferrara)

6949099656_ccfde2be79_n“Game design is a sibling discipline to software and Web design, but they’re siblings that grew up in different houses.  They have much more in common than their perceived distinction typically suggests, and user experience practitioners can realize enormous benefit by exploiting the solutions that games have found to the real problems of design.  This book will show you how.”

Why We Fail (Victor Lombardi)

9368545355_85b57290d7“Just as pilots and doctors improve by studying crash reports and postmortems, experience designers can improve by learning how customer experience failures cause products to fail in the marketplace. Rather than proselytizing a particular approach to design, Why We Fail holistically explores what teams actually built, why the products failed, and how we can learn from the past to avoid failure ourselves.”

Microinteractions (Dan Saffer)

cover_color_lrg“This is the book many designers will begrudgingly pick up, thinking it’s beneath them, but by the time they get to page 25 they’ll be thinking “oh, this is fun” and then by page 50 they’ll realize “oh dear, I make that mistake, or have peers that do” and when they’re finished they’ll know “I now have a language to describe these important problems that have bothered people for ages but were hard to describe, and I have the knowledge now to fix them properly.” What more can you ask for from a book about designing things?”

How to Get People to Do Stuff (Susan Weinschenk)

51nvDY4kINL“We all want people to do stuff. Whether you want your customers to buy from you, vendors to give you a good deal, your employees to take more initiative, or your spouse to make dinner—a large amount of everyday is about getting the people around you to do stuff. Instead of using your usual tactics that sometimes work and sometimes don’t, what if you could harness the power of psychology and brain science to motivate people to do the stuff you want them to do – even getting people to want to do the stuff you want them to do.”

Getting real (37Signals)

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The best selling book by 37 signals who stands behind a widely popular Basecamp platform. In their short and witty manner, authors describe their approach to “faster, easier, smarter way to create a succesful web application.” A highly recommended reading.

Evil by Design (Chris Nodder)

41l97nnvX0LApproaching persuasive design from the dark side, this book melds psychology, marketing and design concepts to show why we’re susceptible to certain persuasive techniques. Packed with examples from every nook and cranny of the web, the book provides easily digestible and applicable patterns for putting these design techniques to work.

The User Experience Team of One (Leah Buley)

9203682292_bb9c0f5fb5The User Experience Team of One prescribes a range of approaches that have big impact and take less time and fewer resources than the standard lineup of UX deliverables. Whether you want to cross over into user experience or you’re a seasoned practitioner trying to drag your organization forward, this book gives you tools and insight for doing more with less.

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error (Kathryn Schulz)

41TYv3gT4ALAn illuminating exploration of what it means to be in error, and why homo sapiens tend to tacitly assume (or loudly insist) that they are right about most everything. Kathryn Schulz, editor of Grist magazine, argues that error is the fundamental human condition and should be celebrated as such.

Resonate (Duarte)

ResonateDuarte builds a stunning visual web-book to demonstrate how tell stories with powerful visual presentations that help to activate and transform your audience.

Design Thinking (Peter Rowe)

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In Design Thinking Peter Rowe provides a systematic account of the process of designing in architecture and urban planning. He examines multiple and often dissimilar theoretical positions whether they prescribe forms or simply provide procedures for solving problems – as particular manifestations of an underlying structure of inquiry common to all designing.

Service Design (Andy Polaine)

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We have unsatisfactory experiences when we use banks, buses, health services and insurance companies. They don’t make us feel happier or richer. Why are they not designed as well as the products we love to use such as an Apple iPod or a BMW? The ‘developed’ world has moved beyond the industrial mindset of products and the majority of ‘products’ that we encounter are actually parts of a larger service network. These services comprise people, technology, places, time and objects that form the entire service experience. In most cases some of the touchpoints are designed, but in many situations the service as a complete ecology just “happens” and is not consciously designed at all, which is why they don’t feel like iPods or BMWs. One of the goals of service design is to redress this imbalance and to design services that have the same appeal and experience as the products we love, whether it is buying insurance, going on holiday, filling in a tax return, or having a heart transplant.

Designing the Conversation (Russ Unger)

411PoY1RnQL._SL500_AA300_Facilitation skills are the foundation of every successful design practice, yet training on this core competency has been largely unavailable—until now. Designing the Conversation: Techniques for Successful Facilitation is a complete guide to developing the facilitation skills you need to communicate effectively and design fully engaging experiences. Learn to take control as Russ Unger, Brad Nunnally, and Dan Willis show you how to use your skills as a facilitator to deftly extract information from different types of people in various scenarios and address any problems and needs that arise along the way.

Just enough research (Erika Hall)

hall-just-enough-researchDesign research is a hard slog that takes years to learn and time away from the real work of design, right? Wrong.

Good research is about asking more and better questions, and thinking critically about the answers. It’s something every member of your team can and should do, and which everyone can learn, quickly. And done well, it will save you time and money by reducing unknowns and creating a solid foundation to build the right thing, in the most effective way.

In Just Enough Research, co-founder of Mule Design Erika Hall distills her experience into a brief cookbook of research methods. Learn how to discover your competitive advantages, spot your own blind spots and biases, understand and harness your findings, and why you should never, ever hold a focus group. You’ll start doing good research faster than you can plan your next pitch.

Inspired (Marty Cagan)

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Why do some products make the leap to greatness while others do not? Creating inspiring products begins with discovering a product that is valuable, usable, and feasible. If you can not do this, then it s not worth building anything. Product management expert Marty Cagan answers these questions and hundreds more as he shares lessons learned, techniques, and best practices from working for and with some of the most successful companies in the high-tech industry.

Web Form Design (Luke Wroblewski)

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Forms make or break the most crucial online interactions: checkout (commerce), registration (community), data input (participation and sharing), and any task requiring information entry. In Web Form Design, Luke Wroblewski draws on original research, his considerable experience at Yahoo! and eBay, and the perspectives of many of the field’s leading designers to show you everything you need to know about designing effective and engaging Web forms.

Sketching User Experiences (Bill Buxton)

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Hardly a day goes by that we don’t see a new product or technology that is going to make our lives easier, solve some or all of our problems, or simply make the world a better place. However, the reality is that few new products survive, much less deliver on their promise. But do designers learn from these expensive mistakes? Rather than rethink the underlying process that brings these products to market, the more common strategy is the shotgun approach: keep blasting away in the hope that one new invention will hit the bull’s eye.

This book’s goal is to solve this problem: to inspire and encourage HCI and other design professionals to try new methods, test themselves with the exercises and projects, and see an improvement in innovative interaction design that works–and design successful products every time.

It’s our research (Tomer Sharon)

6772264951_04e1e8e1ac_zFrom the author of the book, Tomer Sharon: When I meet people who practice user experience research I always ask them the same question. I ask what are the top three challenges they face at work. Getting stakeholder buy-in for research is usually the first challenge they mention. People have trouble persuading stakeholders to conduct UX research to begin with. They have difficulties in getting sponsorship and budget for fieldwork. They experience hostility when they try to get their stakeholders to act upon research results. Many UX research practitioners are frustrated.

Monty Python sang, “Always look on the bright side of life” while being crucified (Life of Brian, 1979). I would also like to look on the bright side. I authored this book to provide people who practice (or would like to practice) user experience research with strategies and techniques for getting their stakeholders’ buy-in for research. I hope you use this book to get people to better appreciate research and act upon its results.