I love reading books! Especially those, that help me to grow/develop myself as a UX designer. Why books - you will ask me since we have so many different and FREE articles and podcasts available online. Am I not afraid, that the knowledge inside them is outdated? My answer is NO!
As UX designers, we should constantly deepen our knowledge in areas such as . While knowledge about technology or design can actually change quickly, fundamentals of psychology in most cases stay the same. Furthermore, books are often updated. So before buying them, it is worth checking out in which year their latest version was published.
I’m also aware, that in the articles and podcasts I can find information on the latest technology, research or trends in design. And I don’t have to spend a fortune on this knowledge! For books, you have to pay (sometimes a lot) but with the price comes also the quality.
For example: (hopefully) you can write and publish a blog article in two days (like this one). The process of creating books is much longer as the content is more thoughtful, reviewed and edited many times (also when it comes to punctuation and grammar matters). Someone puts a lot of effort into publishing a good book to make money on it. I read the articles once and forget about them, but when it comes to a good book - I might return to it several times. Well, but that’s me, wondering what’s your opinion here!
How to find really good books on UX/UI design?
Nowadays, the market is full of various UX/UI books. So how to find the most valuable ones among them? First of all, studies and/or meetups are interesting sources of noteworthy positions. Another one is articles, where I personally often find interesting books and after reading their reviews - decide whether I should buy them or not. Last but not least, a good source of information about good books are my friends and family members who studied psychology, so I often use their recommendations.
But to the point, below you can find some of my beloved books and those to which I’m waiting to read this year. Enjoy!
1. The Design of Everyday Things - Don Norman
The author of this book probably doesn’t need to be introduced to anyone who calls himself/herself a designer. Don Norman is a father of a UX concept and he used to work for Apple as a User Experience Architect. Together with Jakob Nielsen, they are the best-known specialists in the usability fields. They created consulting company Nielsen Norman Group, specializing in usability and user interfaces. Here is a link to their learning platform.
Design of Everyday Things book is the answer to the question: How to design products that will survive the test of time? This book itself is a timeless work talking about how to create a good design, which will be accessible and easy to use for everyone. The author explains what kind of relations we create with objects and gives tips on how to design with functionalism in mind.
After reading this book I’ve understood that If someone has a problem with using some tool we should blame bad design for it - not a user.
2. Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman
One of the many books from the basics of psychology that I would recommend is “Think fast and slow” by Daniel Kahneman. This book describes how the mechanism of human thinking works.
It’s worth mentioning that Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel laureate in economics from 2002. Together with Amos Tversykm, he conducted a series of experiments on the imperfections of statistical inferences. Based on them, the author of the book is describing cognitive errors that we all commit when making decisions. Thanks to this position, you will find out whether you should trust the authorities, what the “effect of anchoring” means (and how to use it during negotiations ;)) or is the first impression affecting our decision process. It also explains, why the heck are we buying things, that we don’t need?!
This book honestly helps me with predicting what irrational behavior we can encounter from people, that we design the products for.
3. Rocket Surgery Made Easy - Steve Krug
If you want to start your adventure with user testings, this position is definitely for you! This book is an instruction for preparing user-tests on websites. After reading it you will know, how to prepare, analyze and improve your product by the usability tests.
Steve Krug shows the pros of usability tests and encourages them to test everything and every time. Yep - the competitors' products as well!
4. Don’t make me think - Steve Krug
It's the second Steves Krug position I really like. As the author claims, this is a book that you’ll be able to read during only one plane flight - and it really is! Thanks to this book, you will get to know how to prepare the navigation for your website, test its functionality and prepare your site mobile version. You will also understand how people use your page and how to benefit from this knowledge, to design truly eye-catching websites.
5. How to build habit-forming products - Nir Eyal, Ryan Hoover
Nowadays, there are so many people around the world who cannot imagine their lives without using phones or the Internet. If you would like to know, why you spend so much time on Instagram or Facebook you should read this book! You will learn how to drive customer engagement from it and why some products capture our attention and some others don't. This book explains how habits are built and persist in our minds.
6. Letting Go with the Words: Writing Web Content that Works - Nir Eyal, Ryan Hoover, Jannice (Ginny) Redish
At Railwaymen we can order books that we would like to read, so right now I’m looking forward to the premiere of this position in May 2020, to add to to our companys library :)
Now we want to share it with you!
One of the most important elements of designing a product is COMMUNICATION with people who will be using/have to contact with our work. So obviously there is no good product without good content! It’s really hard to write a text which will be self-evident for everyone (also in many languages). Despite that in many companies you have separate people dealing with UX writing (also called content marketing), as a UX designer, it’s good to know how to create short, understandable copy. And this book is all about it.
The publishers description: This book helps you write successfully for web users. It offers strategy, process, and tactics for creating or revising content for the web. It helps you plan, organize, write, design, and test web content that will make web users come back again and again to your site.
7. Psychology: Core Concepts - Vivian McCann, Robert L. Johnson, Philip G. Zimbardo
It’s a basic psychological knowledge served in an accessible way. Right now I’m reading 3rd part and I can’t wait to read others. New edition is split into 5 toms and it’s updated about new research results. Basically, you can read about basic psychological theories and get to know some important concepts. After every chapter, there is a task to be done which helps you to better understand and establish your knowledge. I highly recommend it!
As you’ll probably already knew, as UX designers we have to develop ourselves in many different areas: technology, statistics, design... and especially psychology. Books are a really good source of basic, proven knowledge. Because of them, we can better understand what’s behind the process of thinking, making decisions, etc of human beings.
This is the knowledge that we can (and should!) use daily in our work to design better products which will be accessible for everyone. And besides all of that - who doesn’t like to read books on long winter evenings sipping a cup of warm tea? Come on!
The things that you can learn from UX design books are universal and applicable in various business areas. For example - a deeper knowledge of the psychological mechanics will help you to build the most efficient digital marketing strategy for your company.