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Top 13 UX Design Books to Read

education Jun 17, 2021
woman smiling and carrying stack of books

Whether you are just starting out in UX design or have been in the industry for a while, it is always a good idea to keep learning. Continuously growing and sharpening your skills is important for UX designers as UX is always evolving.

Of course, in this digital age, it is easy to find a ton of useful information online. You can read blogs like The Guac or take online courses like the one Avocademy offers. You can definitely learn a lot online, but there’s something special about curling up on the couch with a nice bowl of guacamole and a book in hand. 

The Guac has put together a list of the top UX design books you should read. Not all of the books on our list are specifically for UX designers, but all of them focus on skills that make good UX designers and are worth having on your shelf.  

So, grab your chips, and let’s dig in!


Books About Understanding human behavior


1. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan M. Weinschenik, Ph.D.

 Read this book if you want behavioral insights on what makes people tick.

This book is great for UX designers because people are at the center of user experience design at the end of the day. Understanding people is a key skill that will make you more competitive in the design world. Your goal as a UX designer is to identify the user's needs so you can design the right interactions. To do that, you need to understand what makes people tick. 

Dr. Weinshienk divides the book into topics: how people see, read, think, and what motivates them. The book is organized, easy to read, and each topic is not too long. By the end of this book, you will have a strong understanding of why people act the way they do based on real behavioral science studies. 

After reading this book, you will be able to make your designs more intuitive and engaging for users because you will better understand how humans think and act.


2. Design with Intent: Insights, Methods and Patterns for Behaviour Design by Dan Lockton

Read this book if you want to learn how to work with human behavior as part of the design process.

This book helps designers understand human behavior and incorporate it into their designs. Instead of taking the more common approach of making assumptions about human nature and then designing for that user, Lockton encourages the idea of designing with people. 

By the end of this book, you will have the tools to work with human behavior and be able to incorporate the complexities of the human experience in your design process. 


3. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Read this book if you want to learn how to design to keep your users engaged.

This book is great for creating designs that encourage users to form habits that make them come back for more. Nir Eyal explains how you can predict and shape your users' habits by understanding the four steps of the hooked cycle: trigger, action, variable reward, and investment. 

By the end of this book, you will understand how to hook your users on your product. 


4. Don’t Make Me Think (Revisited) by Steve Krug

Read this book if you want to make more intuitive designs for users.

This book is a classic that all UX designers should have on their shelf. It is a great read for UX designers because it focuses on user experiences and interfaces, arguing that a user should not have to think about an action they are trying to complete. The next step to follow should be intuitive and easy for the user. 

Krug makes this book an enjoyable and easy read that is full of humor and examples along the way. You're sure to learn a lot and enjoy the ride!


Books About Design


5. The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett

Read this book if you want a concise explanation of user design in the process of website creation.

This book is great for UX designers because it provides the big picture of web user experience development. Garrett cuts through the complexity to help you create a better user experience.

After reading this book you will have a better understanding of strategy along with information architecture and visual design. 


6. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Read this book if you are a beginner and want to learn about usability when it comes to your designs.

This book is a classic for all designers and a great choice for UX designers, especially beginners. This book is still relevant today even though it's been around for 30 years. The Design of Everyday Things focuses more on product design and does not go into web or app designs, but it is great for understanding key usability concepts. 

By the end of this book, you will understand how to make useful products, not just good-looking ones.


Books About Prototyping and Testing


7. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by  Jake Knapp,  John Zeratsky,  Brad Kowitz

Read this book if you want to learn how design sprints can help you solve user problems quickly.

Prototyping and testing designs are some of the key aspects of what a UX designer does. However, prototyping can be a difficult and time-consuming part of the design process. Sprint is a great book that provides a formula for testing design ideas so you can move from the testing and prototyping stage to decision-making more quickly. 

After reading this book, you will have a five day process for solving user problems.


Books About Communicating ideas


8.Drawing Ideas: A Designer’s Guide to Refining, Communicating, and Selling Your Concepts by Mark Baskinger, William Bardel

Read this book if you want to improve your sketching skills and understand how sketching helps with the design process.

To effectively communicate your ideas as a UX designer, you need to be able to effectively sketch your ideas. This book is helpful because not all of us are born artists, but we can all learn how to communicate and sell our ideas.  

By the end of this book, you will understand the roles that drawing can play in the design process. Baskinger and Bardel provide lots of illustrated examples to help you along the way.

9. Articulating Design Decisions By Tom Greever


Read this book if you want to learn how to effectively justify your design ideas to others.

As a UX designer, you need to be comfortable with communicating your ideas. Sometimes you have to present your ideas to teammates and fellow designers. Other times you may have to present your ideas to stakeholders or non-designers who may not always see your vision for the final product. 

By the end of this book, you will understand the tools and techniques for winning over those who influence the design process with your ideas and create a successful user experience. 


Books About Working on a Team


10. Lean UX by Jeff Golthelf and Josh Seiden

Read this book if you want to get tips for working on a team as a UX designer. 

UX designers often work on a team. This book provides insight into how to efficiently collaborate with members of a product team. You will learn how to get feedback early on in the process to see what works and what doesn’t. The authors provide plenty of case studies and examples to show how well these approaches can work. 

By the end of this book, you will understand how to work with a team to build products that work for both businesses and users. 


Books About Working Independently


11. The User Experience Team of One by Leah Buhle


Read this book if you are the lone UX designer in your company. 

Not all UX designers work on teams. Some organizations do not have the resources to hire multiple designers. It can be overwhelming and lonely to work on your own, but Buhley gives you plenty of tips to succeed in this sort of environment. 

By the end of this book, you will understand how to prioritize and get your design work done in the most efficient way possible.


Books About Creativity 

As designers, sometimes we need that extra creative spark to inspire us to do our best work. Here are some good reads to get those creative juices flowing!


 12. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Read this book if you want a new take on creativity.

Steal Like an Artist is a fun read that encourages artists to go out and explore what is already out there. Kleon claims that nothing is original, so it is okay to re-imagine and get inspired through the work of others and use it in your own way. 

 By the end of this book, you will learn how to look outside your own mind for creative inspiration.


13. Creative Confidence, by Tom Kelley & David Kelley


Read this book if you need a reminder that you are a creative and innovative designer!

This book is great for a confidence boost when it comes to your design creativity.  Creative Confidence busts the myth that some are born creative and some are not. By the end of this book, you will learn how to tap into your creative potential every day.


What are the top UX design books that you should read?

This list is just a starting point. There are many other great books out there for UX designers to read. 

Once you have exhausted this list, keep reading! Keep reading blog posts, look for books on Amazon or Goodreads. Read the reviews and see if that book could help you grow as a designer. You can also reach out to fellow UX designers or just designers in general and see what industry literature they recommend. 

The important thing is that you are always learning and growing. You do not want to stay stagnant in a field like UX that is always evolving. So I guess we’ll stop talking so you can get reading!

Are you interested in learning more about UX design? Schedule a free mentoring session with a UX designer today!


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