Our 12 Favorite Books on UX Design & Research
Please note, there is an updated and expanded version of this article here: 22 must read books and resources for UX beginners and experts.
We asked our researchers about their favorite books.
If you’re anything like us, you probably have an ongoing Tetris battle trying to get more books in your bookcase (or e-readers, no judgement!) To ensure your battle continues, we asked our research team about the books that influenced their careers in some way.
We present, in no particular order, our research team’s 12 favorite books. Enjoy!
Designing with the Mind in Mind, Second Edition: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Guidelines
Author: Jeff Johnson. “In this completely updated and revised edition of Designing with the Mind in Mind, Jeff Johnson provides you with just enough background in perceptual and cognitive psychology that user interface (UI) design guidelines make intuitive sense rather than being just a list or rules to follow.”
100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Voices That Matter)
Author: Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D. “We design to elicit responses from people. We want them to buy something, read more, or take action of some kind. Designing without understanding what makes people act the way they do is like exploring a new city without a map: results will be haphazard, confusing, and inefficient. This book combines real science and research with practical examples to deliver a guide every designer needs. With it you’ll be able to design more intuitive and engaging work for print, websites, applications, and products that matches the way people think, work, and play.”
Introduction to Human Factors Engineering (2nd Edition)
Authors: Christopher D. Wickens, John D. Lee, Yili Liu, Sallie E. Gordon Becker. “This book describes the capabilities and limitations of the human operator—both physical and mental—and how these should be used to guide the design of systems with which people interact. General principles of human-system interaction and design are presented, and included are specific examples of successful and unsuccessful interactions. It links theories of human performance that underlie the principles with real-world experience, without a heavy engineering-oriented perspective. Topics include design and evaluation methods; different systems such as visual, auditory, tactile, vestibular, automated, and transportation; cognition, decision-making, and aesthetics; physiology; and stress, safety, accidents, and human error. An excellent reference for personnel and managers in the workplace.”
Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis (Human Technology Interaction Series)
Author: Jon Kolko. “This book offers a way of thinking about complicated, multifaceted problems with a repeatable degree of success. Design synthesis methods can be applied in business to produce new and compelling products and services, or these methods can be applied in government with the goal of changing culture and bettering society. In both contexts, there is a need for timely and aggressive action. This text is intended to act as a practitioner’s guide to using the magic of design to solve complex problems.”
Rapid Contextual Design: A How-to Guide to Key Techniques for User-Centered Design (Interactive Technologies)
Authors: Karen Holtzblatt, Jessamun Burns Wendell, Shelley Wood. “Is it impossible to schedule enough time to include users in your design process? Is it difficult to incorporate elaborate user-centered design techniques into your own standard design practices? Do the resources needed seem overwhelming? This handbook introduces Rapid CD, a fast-paced, adaptive form of Contextual Design. Rapid CD is a hands-on guide for anyone who needs practical guidance on how to use the Contextual Design process and adapt it to tactical projects with tight timelines and resources.”
Customer Analytics For Dummies
Author: Jeff Sauro. “Ensuring your customers are having positive experiences with your company at all levels, including initial brand awareness and loyalty, is crucial to the success of your business. Customer Analytics For Dummies shows you how to measure each stage of the customer journey and use the right analytics to understand customer behavior and make key business decisions.”
Measuring the User Experience, Second Edition: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics (Interactive Technologies)
Authors: Tom Tullis, Bill Albert. “As more UX and web professionals need to justify their design decisions with solid, reliable data, Measuring the User Experience provides the quantitative analysis training that these professionals need. The second edition presents new metrics such as emotional engagement, personas, keystroke analysis, and net promoter score. It also examines how new technologies coming from neuro-marketing and online market research can refine user experience measurement, helping usability and user experience practitioners make business cases to stakeholders. The book also contains new research and updated examples, including tips on writing online survey questions, six new case studies, and examples using the most recent version of Excel.”
Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions
Authors: Bella Martin, Bruce Hanington. “This comprehensive reference provides a thorough and critical presentation of 100 research methods, synthesis/analysis techniques, and research deliverables for human centered design, delivered in a concise and accessible format perfect for designers, educators, and students. Whether research is already an integral part of a practice or curriculum, or whether it has been unfortunately avoided due to perceived limitations of time, knowledge, or resources, Universal Methods of Design serves as an invaluable compendium of methods that can be easily referenced and utilized by cross-disciplinary teams in nearly any design project.”
Quantifying the User Experience, Second Edition: Practical Statistics for User Research
Authors: Jeff Sauro, James R. Lewis. “Quantifying the User Experience: Practical Statistics for User Research, Second Edition, provides practitioners and researchers with the information they need to confidently quantify, qualify, and justify their data. The book presents a practical guide on how to use statistics to solve common quantitative problems that arise in user research. It addresses questions users face every day, including, Is the current product more usable than our competition? Can we be sure at least 70% of users can complete the task on their first attempt? How long will it take users to purchase products on the website? This book provides a foundation for statistical theories and the best practices needed to apply them.”
How to Get People to Do Stuff: Master the art and science of persuasion and motivation
Author: Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D. “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. In this book you’ll learn the 7 drives that motivate people: The Desire For Mastery, The Need To Belong, The Power of Stories, Carrots and Sticks, Instincts, Habits, and Tricks Of The Mind. For each of the 7 drives behavioral psychologist Dr. Susan Weinschenk describes the research behind each drive, and then offers specific strategies to use.”
Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition
Author: Steve Krug. “Five years and more than 100,000 copies after it was first published, it’s hard to imagine anyone working in Web design who hasn’t read Steve Krug’s ‘instant classic’ on Web usability, but people are still discovering it every day. In this second edition, Steve adds three new chapters in the same style as the original: wry and entertaining, yet loaded with insights and practical advice for novice and veteran alike. Don’t be surprised if it completely changes the way you think about Web design.”
The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
Author: Alan Cooper. “Imagine, at a terrifyingly aggressive rate, everything you regularly use is being equipped with computer technology. Think about your phone, cameras, cars-everything-being automated and programmed by people who in their rush to accept the many benefits of the silicon chip, have abdicated their responsibility to make these products easy to use. The Inmates Are Running the Asylum argues that the business executives who make the decisions to develop these products are not the ones in control of the technology used to create them. Insightful and entertaining, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum uses the author’s experiences in corporate America to illustrate how talented people continuously design bad software-based products and why we need technology to work the way average people think. Somewhere out there is a happy medium that makes these types of products both user and bottom-line friendly; this book discusses why we need to quickly find that medium.”
We’re sure most of you have read several of these already, but perhaps there are a few on here that inspired you to either re-read a classic or check out something new. After all, there’s nothing quite as fulfilling as curling up with a great book, right?
Bonus Mention: Our very own Mike Fritz co-authored Improving the User Experience through Practical Data Analytics: Gain Meaningful Insight and Increase Your Bottom Line with Paul D. Berger.
“Improving the User Experience through Practical Data Analytics shows you how to make UX design decisions based on data―not hunches. Authors Fritz and Berger help the UX professional recognize the enormous potential of user data that is collected as a natural by-product of routine UX research methods, including moderated usability tests, unmoderated usability tests, surveys, and contextual inquiries. Then, step-by-step, they explain how to utilize both descriptive and predictive statistical techniques to gain meaningful insight with that data. By mastering the use of these techniques, you’ll delight your users, increase your bottom line and gain a powerful competitive advantage for your company―and yourself.”
Phil got his degree in creative writing, where they told him he most likely wouldn’t be able to use his degree for his career. He obviously won that round. When not working with UX researchers he can be found teaching martial arts and working on his fiction novels.