The Ultimate UX Reading List to Take You to the Next Level

by Tomas Laurinavicius

posted on 07-14-2017

To paraphrase Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a design can be considered perfect not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

I believe that reading is today’s superpower, yet not many people use it. I try to read every day in order to improve as an entrepreneur, designer, writer and human being. It must be the only shortcut to learning more in less time. Authors have spent thousands of hours thinking, researching, writing, and rewriting books and you can access them anywhere in the world right away and start reading.

Dive into this mind-opening list of UX and design books and challenge your perception of design perfection.

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Often called the “bible of usability,” Norman’s “The Design of Everyday Things” is a must-read for anyone who’s in a position to create anything that’s meant to be used by another human. Donald Norman, who was a vice president of advanced technology at Apple, gives readers a unique opportunity to understand how design enables information, and how the same design principles can be applied to everything from tea kettles to computer programs.

The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett

In this highly-praised book, Jesse James Garrett sets out to demonstrate that Web design is much more than just writing clean code and garnishing with sharp graphics. It provides an invaluable map for website design, clearly defining and explaining every element that goes into planning and building a site. If you need to take a step back and look at the big picture of user-centred web design, then this is a read for you.

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

One of the most essential reads for web designers and developers, “Don’t Make Me Think” is a simple and fun-to-read guide to understanding the principles of intuitive navigation and information design. What Krug is after in this book is to show its readers how to make everything obvious at a glance and easy to find and get to. Although a very quick read, it is an excellent introduction to creating truly user-friendly websites.

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Peter Morville & Louis Rosenfeld

From a thorough overview of information architecture and its fundamental components to practical tips and enlightening philosophical advice on information architecture, this book is a great resource and a must-read for designers, information architects and website developers that are working on large-scale websites.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Written for designers, product managers, marketers, start-up founders and anyone who wants to understand how products can influence people’s behaviour, this book tackles the million-dollar questions about building habit-forming products. How do products succeed in building new habits? How to create a product that people love? “Hooked” is full of practical insights and actionable advice.

How to Make Sense of Any Mess by Abby Covert

Another great read for anyone who’s dealing with information architecture. Although a high-level overview of IA, this book provides a seven-step process for making sense of mess (or badly designed IA) as well as workbook exercises crafted to help readers make sense of their own confusing situations.

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

This book will make you think long and hard. Filled with lots of examples from the industry’s renowned practitioners and a collection of classic no-no’s, “Thinking with Type” is a well written and easy-to-digest overview of typography and the challenges it creates.

Making and Breaking the Grid by Timothy Samara

As an analysis of the construction and deconstruction of grid-based designs, this book is a great introduction to graphic design. With lots of practical take-homes and visual examples, it demonstrates how grids make the design projects much easier to tackle.

Design Is a Job by Mike Monteiro (and everything else from A Book Apart)

Full of genuinely helpful and thought-provoking advice on how to do your job better, this book helps designers deal with a wide range of issues, including winning clients, collaborating with peers, and directing other designers. In this book, Monteiro reveals all the secrets and lessons he’s picked while running his own business. If you have to deal with clients, you must read it.

The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero (read for free here)

This book is a slightly philosophical take on the design process. Many have called it a meditation on design and creativity, for it is focused on the mental state of a designer immersed in the creative process rather than the design itself. If you’re ever caught up in thoughts about what your work means and where it fits in the world, give this book a read.

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk

Aimed at helping designers to create more engaging and intuitive work for print, web, applications and products, “100 Things Every Designer Need to Know About People” is a book that encourages designers to understand how people think, work, and play. Packed with scientific research and real-life examples, it’s an excellent read for both seasoned pros and new designers.

Subject To Change by Peter Merholz, Todd Wilkens, Brandon Schauer and David Verba

This book covers design, user experience and product development from designer’s point of view and clearly articulates the idea that having a user-centred design process can help a company grow and gain competitive advantage.

A Practical Guide to Information Architecture by Donna Spencer

Aimed at anyone itching to learn more about Information Architecture experience, this book is saturated with years of experience that will help you understand IA better and empower you to run your projects with confidence. Whether it’s content organization or creating clear descriptions – it’s packed with practical advice for every stage of the design process.

Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning by Dan M. Brown

It’s a well-written, approachable guide to creating documentation that designers are required to provide in a comprehensive manner. Brown writes about different types of deliverables, their place in the design process and their impact on a project. Packed with quick tips for how to improve deliverables and in-depth advice on risk mitigation techniques, the book is a solid read for web designers.

Designing Together: The collaboration and conflict management handbook for creative professionals by Dan M. Brown

The single thing that no design school or course can prepare you for is working with other people. The increasing evolution of design techniques and reliance on international teams, creatives there is a growing demand for creatives who can cooperate effectively. This book aims to help creative professionals develop the collaborative behaviors and the skills needed to work through difficult conversations.

Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences by Stephen Anderson

If you’ve ever wondered how to make people stick around to get the best value out of your service or product, let author Stephen P. Anderson take you on an educational journey to demonstrate how seduction plays a key role in interaction design. Combining concrete examples with universal psychological principles, the book will capture your imagination and change the way you design!

About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper

This book is packed with practical tools and expert tips on designing terrific desktop applications, Web 2.0 sites and mobile devices. Ultimately, the book aims to teach how to understand good product behaviors and design for success by applying Cooper’s Goal-Directed Design method to your own projects. The golden method covers everything – from user research to defining your product through personas, so dig in to unlock the key to better design!

Just Enough Research by Erika Hall

Often referred to as the cookbook of research methods, “Just Enough Research” reminds readers why conducting research before getting down to the nitty-gritty is a crucial part of the design process. With great insights and practical tips, this book will help you understand customer research better or get a quick refresh on the basic user testing practices.

Designing for Emotion by Aaron Walter

This short book touts the importance of emotion in design and talks about how to make your users fall in love with your product. With compelling case studies and solid data to back up the ideas, “Designing for Emotion” seeks to re-evaluate the fundamentals of how we think about designing interfaces.

Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter

Aimed at intermediate to advanced designers, the book examines the concepts of social psychology and the impact it has on the web-based software. The author walks the reader through the main hurdles experienced by users and analyzes the methods that designers could use to minimize them. If you want to read something refreshingly good about social network design, pick this up!


Essentially, design is an act of communication. To understand, connect, influence and inspire your users, you need to develop a thoughtful and clean style of design. You must understand humans. And you can do that by immersing yourself in the lessons shared by the industry’s leading innovators. So pick up one of the books in this list and get lost in the sea of ideas.

Topics: Creative Inspiration & Trends, Design

Products: Creative Cloud