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The Top UX Design Books You Need to Read in 2024: Beginner to Expert

In the digital landscape, user experience (UX) design holds a pivotal role. Every pixel, every interaction, and every piece of visual communication online is an element of UX design. 

UX design shapes the user experience and determines the success of businesses in this connected era.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or an aspiring designer, it is essential to stay up-to-date with industry best practices.  UX design is constantly evolving  and demands constant learning. One of the most efficient ways to acquire this knowledge is through reading. Books written by experts in the field can: 

Provide a solid foundation.

Equip you with fresh ideas.

Challenge you to think in new ways.

We've curated a list of the most influential UI/UX design books to read in 2024. We structured our UX design book recommendations to accommodate different levels of expertise. We’ll start with beginners and gradually escalate to advanced UX design books. We've also made sure to encompass different areas of UX, from design and research to strategy.

So, let’s get started!

The Best UX Design Books for Beginners

Starting your UX design journey may seem intimidating, but these carefully selected beginner UX books will guide you from novice to skilled beginner in no time.

UX for Beginners: A Crash Course in 100 Short Lessons by Joel Marsh

Book cover of UX for Beginners: A Crash Course in 100 Short Lessons by Joel Marsh

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"UX for Beginners" is a comprehensive yet entertaining guide for anyone interested in user experience (UX) design. This book covers the fundamentals of UX across 100 self-contained, engaging lessons. 

It strays from dry, technical material and, instead, adopts Marsh's unique snarky humor to teach UX in a simple and practical manner. So, we highly recommend this book. It's an excellent resource for non-designers aspiring to become designers, managers teaching UX, and professionals from other fields seeking to understand UX design better.

Key Takeaway 

A key takeaway from this book is recognizing the diversity in user behavior and the importance of designing for these variations, akin to addressing differing behaviors in real life. Marsh’s practical, humor-infused approach makes this a quick and enjoyable read, perfect to consume in one sitting.

“Everything has a user experience. Your job is not to create the user experience. Your job is to make it good.” ― Joel Marsh

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Book cover of The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

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Don Norman’s seminal work will fundamentally change your perspective on the world around you. Through examining everything from doors to software, Norman reveals the power of good design and the frustration of poor design.

A timeline showcasing the evolution of UX design through the years.

While the term “UX design” may have been recently coined, the underlying principles date back thousands of years.

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0

Don Norman's "The Design of Everyday Things" underscores the importance of user-centered design – a concept he helped popularize. He emphasizes that design should primarily focus on user needs rather than secondary factors like aesthetics . He illustrates the outcomes of adhering to or straying from this user-focused approach through detailed examples.

“Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible.” — Don Norman

In this video, Don Norman explains why design is “hot”!

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User Friendly: How the Hidden Rules of Design are Changing the Way We Live, Work and Play by Cliff Kuang and Robert Fabricant

Book cover of How the Hidden Rules of Design are Changing the Way We Live, Work and Play by Cliff Kuang and Robert Fabricant

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"User Friendly" by Cliff Kuang and Robert Fabricant explores how design principles subtly shape our daily lives and the world around us. The authors weave a historical narrative and chart the evolution of user-experience design from a niche concept to a universal reality in our digital age. They reveal the hidden impact of design on societal shifts, from major historical events to the dawn of the digital era.

Key Takeaway

This book sheds light on the often unnoticed role of user-experience design in our interactions with technology. Kuang and Fabricant underline the importance of design in making technology intuitive and user-friendly and its influence on molding our behaviors, habits, and, ultimately, our lifestyle. They stress that as we become more reliant on technology, understanding these hidden design rules is not just fascinating, but crucial.

“You have to know why people behave as they do—and design around their foibles and limitations, rather than some ideal.” ― Cliff Kuang,

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

Book cover of Don’t Make Me Think (Revisited) by Steve Krug

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Steve Krug presents a common-sense approach to mobile and web usability with his engaging writing style. He focuses on functional aspects of design rather than form, offering concrete examples to improve usability and enhance the user experience.

Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think" underscores the power of simplicity and consistency in web design . He advocates for intuitive, skim-friendly interfaces and emphasizes the importance of user testing . Krug suggests that, while creativity is important, it shouldn't compromise the expected consistency unless it enhances the user experience.

“Usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology.” — Steve Krug

Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug

Book cover of Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug

Regarded as the companion to "Don't Make Me Think," Krug's book provides a practical guide to usability testing . He emphasizes the importance of early and frequent testing, making problem identification and resolution a seamless part of your design process.

This book guides readers through the practical aspects of user testing. It highlights the importance of choosing the right participants, crafting effective tasks, and maintaining neutrality during the process. It also uncovers compelling insights from users. Krug offers a comprehensive roadmap to conduct effective user research .

“ You’re not interested in what it takes to uncover most of the problems; you only care about what it takes to uncover as many problems as you can fix .” ― Steve Krug, Rocket Surgery Made Easy

HCI expert Prof. Alan Dix talks about the three guidelines of usability:

Top UX Books for Professionals 

UX design demands a profound understanding of design principles and an analytical mindset. Here are the best UX books that will offer experienced professionals fresh perspectives, deeper insights, and the tools to drive impactful change.

Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience by Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden

Book cover of Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience by Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden

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"Lean UX"  covers principles, tactics and techniques to incorporate design into Agile teams. It underscores the importance of collaborative projects focusing on solving user problems instead of merely adding new features. Gothelf's work encourages you to reflect on your role within the organization and the overall UX strategy.

This book dives into lean and agile principles in UX design. It promotes teamwork in product development, urging frequent feedback and short design cycles. "Lean UX" focuses on crafting an excellent user experience and shifting the focus from merely producing deliverables. Thus, it fosters a beneficial shift in the design process.

“Our goal is not to create a delivery, it's to change something in the world – to create an outcome.” — Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

Book cover of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

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Through "The Paradox of Choice," Schwartz contends that while the abundance of choice may appear beneficial, it often leads to frustration and dissatisfaction. This book challenges the conventional wisdom that more is better. It argues for limiting choices to increase user satisfaction. If you understand how people think, you can make your designs better by focusing on what users need, not just what they want.

This book conveys that an abundance of options can lead to decision paralysis and lower user satisfaction. It suggests that "good enough" often trumps the "absolute best." "The Paradox of Choice" urges you to create experiences that satisfy users' needs rather than overwhelm them with excessive choices. This can enhance decision-making ease and user contentment.

“People choose not on the basis of what’s most important, but on what’s easiest to evaluate.” — Barry Schwartz

Build Better Products: A Modern Approach to Building Successful User-Centered Products by Laura Klein 

Book cover of Build Better Products: A Modern Approach to Building Successful User-Centered Products by Laura Klein

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"Build Better Products" offers a comprehensive guide for all aspects of product development . It is valuable for product managers and anyone involved in creating a new product. Klein's step-by-step approach considers every potential scenario in the product development journey and even includes advice on team building. Her approach ensures that readers understand user experience design and product engineering in-depth.

The book provides a holistic framework for product management that is both practical and extensive. It encourages readers to step out of their comfort zone as it provides insights into various aspects of product development that they might not have explored before. Klein's advice on team building is particularly valuable as it recognizes the vital role of a well-coordinated team in the successful development and launch of a product.

“Trying new things constantly and then abandoning them without further study or work is not iterating. That’s flailing.” ― Laura Klein

Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley

Book cover of Creative Confidence by Tom & David Kelley

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"Creative Confidence" debunks the "creativity myth"—that people are born creative. It empowers readers to tap into their inherent potential to create change. The authors share inspiring stories from their work at IDEO and teach you how to leverage everyday annoyances as design opportunities.

The book emphasizes the value of practice, empathy , curiosity, an abundance of ideas, and resilience in fostering creativity. It encourages the reader to view the world with fresh eyes and adopt an "abundance mentality." You must treat creativity as a flexible muscle that benefits from regular exercise and teamwork.

“That combination of thought and action defines creative confidence: the ability to come up with new ideas and the courage to try them out.” ― Tom Kelley

100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People by Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D

Book cover of 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People by Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D

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Serving as a comprehensive reference guide, "100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People" delves into the basics of how people see, think, read, and what motivates them. It provides valuable insights and tactics from cognitive, social, and perceptual psychology research for creating successful UX designs.

5 psychological principles that influence UX Design—Cognitive Load, Mental Models, Social Proof, Color Psychology and Visual Hierarchy.

The book teaches that effective design stems from understanding human behavior and motivations. It applies psychology and neuroscience research to user-centric design. Thus, it offers practical advice on creating intuitive, accessible digital and physical products for varied audiences. You’ll also find techniques to create compelling user experiences and get higher conversion rates.

“To design a product or Web site that persuades people to take a certain action, you need to know the unconscious motivations of your target audience.” ― Susan M. Weinschenk

Essential UI Design Books

UI design is an integral part of product development. It requires both artistic creativity and technical understanding. Here are some prominent books that will serve as useful resources for your UI design journey:

UI is Communication by Everett N. McKay

Book cover of UI is Communication by Everett N. McKay

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"UI is Communication" is a practical guide that focuses on UI design as an objective communication tool rather than aesthetics. The book draws a parallel between user interfaces and conversations, providing useful methods for real-world design challenges.

This book stands out for its rich, varied examples, easily digestible layout with bolded keywords, and inclusion of humor through comics. It goes beyond UI, discussing user-centered design and UX techniques. Suitable for diverse roles, it remains current, even exploring mobile conventions.

“If your product solves real problems, has a simple, intuitive interaction and an appealing, easy-to-read visual design , yet people aren’t using it, chances are your product is failing to communicate at a human level.” ― Everett N. McKay

Designing with the Mind in Mind by Jeff Johnson

Book cover of Designing with the Mind in Mind by Jeff Johnson

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"Designing with the Mind in Mind" explores perceptual and cognitive psychology and how it can inform effective UI design. It provides insights into human decision-making, hand-eye coordination, color perception, and memory, offering a strong foundation for user-centric design.

The book imparts essential perceptual and cognitive psychology insights to UI designers. It enables them to understand and intuitively apply design rules rather than blindly follow them. The book helps designers make informed decisions, even in challenging situations like trade-offs, time limits, or resource constraints.

“Engineering does not replace art in a design, it makes it possible.” ― Jeff Johnson

Evil by Design by Chris Nodder

Book cover of Evil by Design by Chris Nodder

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Nodder's work unravels the psychological aspects used in persuasive design techniques. The book dissects real website examples and displays how companies (and designers)  leverage UI design patterns and human psychology to trick people for commercial advantages.

The book uncovers the dark side of design. It reveals how some designers exploit users' vulnerabilities to enhance conversion rates. "Evil by Design" will help you  become aware of, and resist manipulative strategies. 

“It’s ok to deceive people if it’s in their best interests or if they’ve given implicit consent to be deceived as part of a persuasive strategy.”  — Chris Nodder

Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design by Giles Colborne

Book cover of Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design by Giles Colborne

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As the title suggests, "Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design" is a practical guide to achieving simplicity in UI design. It focuses on removing, organizing, concealing, and displacing features and UI elements to enhance the user experience.

Simplicity and usability are crucial to a product's success. Giles Colborne presents four strategies (remove, hide, organize and displace) to achieve this simplicity. The book emphasizes that products that are the simplest to use often win customers.

“The better and longer way is to describe the experience I want the users to have. That means describing the users’ world and how my design fits in.” ― Giles Colborne

Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell, Charles Brewer and Aynne Valencia

Book Cover of Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell, Charles Brewer and Aynne Valencia

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"Designing Interfaces" is essentially a comprehensive catalog of various UI patterns . It documents the best practices for each pattern's usage. It's a practical resource, particularly beneficial for those beginning their UI design journey.

This book  compiles common interaction design patterns used across web and desktop environments. The book adeptly navigates between generic and specific advice. It serves as a valuable reference for designers keen on creating effective user-facing software. “Good design can’t be reduced to a recipe.” – Jenifer Tidwell

Here’s UX designer and co-founder of HYPE 4, Michal Malewicz with more on the importance of UI design.

UX Research and Strategy Books

UX research plays a crucial role in understanding users' needs, behaviors, and motivations. For experienced professionals seeking to delve deeper, here are five noteworthy books on UX research:

The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley

Book cover of The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley

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"The User Experience Team of One" is perfect for those seeking effective UX research with fewer UX design resources. Buley drew from her experiences at notable firms such as Publicis Sapient and InVision to write this book. She provides practical tips and techniques to guide readers through the entire design process and help quantify the user experience. 

Buley offers a valuable breakdown of different design phases. These design phases include planning, researching, designing, testing, and evangelism. The emphasis on outputs, inviting review, and fostering collaboration is particularly insightful. This book provides clear direction and suggests a focus point at the end of each chapter: If you can only do one of these, do X.

“Design is the act of creating new solutions under constrained circumstances, whether those constraints are aesthetic, technological, or resource-driven. That may sound like a restriction, but actually it’s a gift. Constraints, in the end, are a designer’s friend.” — Leah Buley

Just Enough Research by Erika Hall

Book cover of Just Enough Research by Erika Hall

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Co-founder of Mule Design Studios , Erika Hall, shares her wealth of knowledge in "Just Enough Research." It aims to improve questioning and critical thinking in research. Hall covers a wide range of topics and offers useful methods for better and faster research.

This book is an exhaustive yet approachable introduction to the multifaceted world of design research. This practical guide, peppered with humor and valuable tips, covers a wide range of topics beyond traditional user interviews and usability testing . Despite being short and concise, it prompts thoughtful reflections and questions about design research methodologies.

“You can optimize everything and still fail, because you have to optimize for the right things. That's where reflection and qualitative approaches come in. By asking why, we can see the opportunity for something better beyond the bounds of the current best. Even math has its limits.” ― Erika Hall

Think Like a UX Researcher: How to Observe Users, Influence Design, and Shape Business Strategy by David Travis and Philip Hodgson

Book cover of Think Like a UX Researcher: How to Observe Users, Influence Design, and Shape Business Strategy by David Travis and Philip Hodgson

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With a combined 50 years of UX research experience, Travis and Hodgson provide invaluable insights into UX research planning, data analysis, and team persuasion. The book includes thought-provoking exercises and stories from experienced researchers.

This book offers a solid overview of UX principles. It reinforces best practices and introduces new tools you can apply to future projects. Its unique feature is the summary of each topic with brief questions and exercises, such as the SCAMPER example. These exercises prompt critical thinking and remind readers that UX approaches should be adaptable and tailored to individual projects. It's an informative read that encourages questioning and flexibility in UX design.

“Companies say they value great design. But they assume that to do great design they need a rock star designer. But great design doesn’t live inside designers. It lives inside your users’ heads. You get inside your users heads by doing good UX research: research that provides actionable and testable insights into users’ needs.” ― David Travis

In this video, CEO of Experience Dynamics, Frank Spillers urges designers to “get out of the building” before designing anything.

Bottlenecks: Aligning UX Design with User Psychology by David C. Evans

Book cover of Bottlenecks: Aligning UX Design with User Psychology by David C. Evans

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In this book, Evans links cognitive psychology with UX design principles. He explores the psychological processes that influence design success and shares hypotheses for research to meet user needs more effectively.

The key takeaway from this book is that understanding human psychological constraints is crucial for effective UX design. This book explains how to align digital designs with inherent bottlenecks in human nature. It provides case studies and strategies for marketing and product development in the social media age. Also, it highlights the vital role of behaviorism, development, personality, and social psychology in UX design.

“Bottlenecks brings together two very important aspects of user experience design: understanding users and translating this into business impact. A must-read for anyone who wants to learn both.”  – Josh Lamar, Sr. UX Lead, Microsoft Outlook

User Research: Improve Product and Service Design and Enhance Your UX Research by Stephanie Marsh

Book cover of User Research: Improve Product and Service Design and Enhance Your UX Research by Stephanie Marsh

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Marsh, a seasoned UX researcher, offers insights into implementing UX research effectively within an organization. The book provides practical advice on the most up-to-date  user research methods and data interpretation techniques.

This book provides a detailed, hands-on approach to user research. Marsh discusses the optimal timing for research implementation and showcases how a deep understanding of users can improve product and service design .

“ This book offers a comprehensive overview of how to be a great user researcher and explains exactly how to plan, run and debrief impactful user research. This new edition is right up to date with modern research needs for ethical data handling, and operationalising research. An essential handbook for new and experienced researchers to keep by their side!” — Steve Bromley, Principal User Researcher at Reach PLC

UX Design Ebooks and Online Resources

We understand that your time is precious, and flipping through lengthy books may not always be feasible. So, we've got you covered! Here are five ebooks and online resources that provide excellent UX advice and insights:

The Basics of User Experience Design

The Basics of User Experience Design by IxDF

The Interaction Design Foundation's comprehensive guide covers the fundamental aspects of UX design. Over nine chapters, readers can learn about conducting user interviews, design thinking , interaction design, mobile UX design , usability, UX research, and more. Get this free ebook here . 

This e-book will help you understand the user-centered design process. It’ll provide practical knowledge of various UX methods and techniques, and insights into modern UX design trends.

Bright Ideas for User Experience Designers

Book cover for Bright Ideas for User Experience Designers by Userfocus

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Userfocus’s e-book offers a friendly and memorable approach to UX design concepts. From improving usability to mastering prototypes, the eBook illuminates key aspects of UX design with real-world examples. It also shares essential tips for writing support material, error communication, and even creating a compelling UX vision. 

This e-book delivers valuable insights into various aspects of user experience design. It helps you learn practical strategies for improving usability, efficient prototyping to create a user experience vision, and enhanced communication of errors. It also provides useful tips for writing user manuals and understanding the significance of "alt" text.

UX Design Trends Bundle

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Compiled by UXPin, this bundle contains three e-books covering web and mobile UI design trends. This resource provides a comprehensive analysis of over 300 designs and is a great way to stay updated with the latest trends. You can download the ebooks from the UXPin website.

This e-book talks about key aspects of UX design. It provides insights into current design trends and showcases examples of superior designs. Furthermore, it encourages readers to contemplate the future trajectory of UX design. Its lessons prepare you to innovate, adapt, and create exceptional user experiences.

UX Storytellers: Connecting the Dots

 e-Book cover for UX Storytellers: Connecting the Dots

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This e-book , published in 2009, offers timeless insights into the world of UX design. It contains anecdotes and advice from 42 UX professionals and provides a holistic view of the field. 

This e-book talks about common UX hurdles and shares practical ways to navigate them. It also highlights the crucial role of storytelling in design. It sheds light on the power of storytelling to create engaging and captivating user experiences.

GET INTO UX: A Foolproof Guide to Getting Your First User Experience Job

Book cover for Get Into UX by Vytautas Alechnavicius

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"Get Into UX" by Vytautas Alechnavicius is an illuminating guide aimed at equipping both aspiring and experienced designers with the necessary tools to secure their first UX job. Given the booming UX field and the influx of new talent, the book addresses the challenges that young designers face when trying to find jobs and offers a foolproof roadmap to breaking into the UX field. It comprehensively tackles various facets of UX, from understanding the fundamentals to building a strong portfolio, and provides actionable strategies to set up a successful UX career.

This e-book emphasizes the importance of truly understanding UX beyond the surface level. It sets up your UX career with a long-term perspective and practical tools to ace portfolios, resumes, and interviews. The book also underscores the significance of continuous learning and practice in navigating the evolving UX landscape. 

Learn from Great Design

 e-Book cover for Learn From Great Design Volume 1 by Tom Kenny

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This e-book by web designer Tom Kenny provides an in-depth analysis of high-quality web designs. Although only a portion of it is available for free, the e-book provides valuable insights into what makes a design effective. 

The book primarily teaches the essentials of top-notch web design. It offers practical examples for better understanding and prompts self-evaluation to identify areas for improvement in your own work.

These e-books and UX resources are a wealth of knowledge for both new and experienced UX designers , offering a range of insights into the ever-evolving field of user experience design.

Honorable Mentions: More Noteworthy UX Design Books

Universal principles of design by william lidwell, kritina holden and jill butler.

Book cover for Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler 

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"Universal Principles of Design" by William Lidwell is a comprehensive UX design textbook. With Lidwell's extensive research background, the book underlines the science of design, providing well-curated data to aid the understanding of design principles. It covers every facet of the design spectrum, from usability to human behavior.

Key takeaways from the book are its solid grounding in UX design principles, which can be revisited anytime for insight. Furthermore, the book explores all design aspects to broaden a designer's perspective in their field and across various design disciplines. This broad-based approach makes it a rich source of inspiration for designers, regardless of their expertise.

A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making by Russ Unger & Carolyn Chandler

Book cover for A Project Guide to UX Design by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler

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"A Project Guide to UX Design" by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler is an invaluable handbook for UX designers handling the complexity of design projects. It covers various skills, from understanding stakeholders ' roles to conducting user research to SEO and persona creation.

This book imparts wisdom without prescribing a specific framework. It's a guide that gives you a firm grasp of what you need to know and what you should be cautious about in UX design. It's gained considerable popularity for being a reliable companion in challenging times for UX designers.

Writing Is Designing: Words and the User Experience by Michael J. Metts and Andy Welfle

Alt Text: Book cover for Writing Is Designing: Words and the User Experience by Michael J. Metts and Andy Welfle

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"Writing Is Designing" advocates for UX writers' critical yet often overlooked role in a product's development. Initially, the book emphasizes the importance of acknowledging UX writers in the design team. It then addresses practical challenges such as strategizing in a project setting and implementing best practices for UX writing.

This book serves as an essential guide for those already versed in UX design and looking to integrate UX writing effectively into their workflows. It not only underlines the significance of UX writing but also provides practical insights to navigate the complexities of UX writing in the design process.

About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design

Book cover for About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin and Christopher Noessel.

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"About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design" by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, and Christopher Noessel is an esteemed text in the realm of interaction design. Revered as a UX bible, the book extensively explores creating intuitive and user-friendly designs. Cooper, known as the "Father of Visual Basic," introduces his goal-directed design method in the book. It emphasizes the importance of understanding user needs and behaviors to construct a design that genuinely serves those needs.

This book provides a deeper understanding of the three Ps (principles, patterns, and processes) and the invaluable addition of the fourth P – practice. Cooper's insights into team dynamics and the unique roles of "generators" and "synthesizers" in design teams offer readers valuable guidance on creating and managing successful UX design teams. Also, the book presents Cooper's strategy for hiring designers to provide a comprehensive view of interaction design from conception to execution.

The Take Away

Staying on top of the latest UX and UI design tools is key to thriving in the fast-paced digital world. From grasping the fundamentals of stellar web design to identifying room for improvement in your own work, the insights shared in this piece can significantly enhance your skills.

A brief description of various UX design books across three levels, beginner, intermediate and advanced.

This piece serves as an evergreen resource designed to support your continuous growth in UX and UI design. As trends evolve and the best books to learn UI UX design change, we'll be updating the content to ensure it remains relevant and valuable for your learning journey.

For those just beginning their journey or seasoned professionals looking to refine their skills, our range of courses caters to all levels. Embark on your learning adventure with our beginner UX courses today.

And if you're ready to excel in your current role or preparing for the next, consider enrolling in our intermediate courses . It's time to upskill, stay competitive, and propel your career to new heights! Start today and shape the digital experiences of tomorrow.

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The Basics of User Experience Design

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An open book sits beside stack of UX books, an orange ball and coffee cup

User Research

Aug 9, 2022

11 UX research books to streamline your process & improve your skills

UX research and design is a fast-moving industry—keep up with the latest developments and further your UX knowledge with these 11 hand-picked UX books.

Ella Webber

Ella Webber

Improving and developing your product requires that you also continuously improve and develop your own knowledge and skills. With the right resources, you’re always learning— about your product, your users, and how to synthesize both.

UX research looks into how users interact with your product, and how you can improve the experience from start to finish. Good UX research uncovers issues before they arise, and enables you to make informed decisions to provide the best user experience possible.

Continually learning and broadening your research horizons is an absolute must for improving your UX research skills and developing as a UX designer.

These 11 books—plus four bonus reads—provide key insights into UX research, and highlight the ways you can approach design for your product. Let’s take a look at your reading list:

  • The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide | Leah Buley
  • Just Enough Research | Erika Hall
  • Think Like a UX Researcher: How to Observe Users, Influence Design, and Shape Business Strategy | David Travis & Philip Hodgson
  • Bottlenecks: Aligning UX Design with User Psychology | David C. Evans
  • User Research: Improve Product and Service Design and Enhance Your UX Research | Stephanie Marsh
  • Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests | Jeffrey Rubin and Dana Chisnell
  • Quantifying the User Experience: Practical Statistics for User Research | Jeff Sauro and James R. Lewis
  • Interviewing Users: Uncover Compelling Insights | Steve Portigal
  • Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior | Indi Young
  • Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better | Eric Reiss
  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People | Susan Weinschenk

11 Best UX research books to improve your researching skills

1. the user experience team of one: a research and design survival guide | leah buley.

Book cover showing red green and blue swirls

The User Experience Team of One | Leah Buley

Leah Buley’s User Experience Team of One focuses on conducting UX research with fewer resources and less time than a traditional UX team. It’s the go-to book for practical UX research tips and techniques on a budget.

In this book, Buley shares her knowledge from many years in the experience design industry, during which she worked in key user experience roles at Publicis Sapient, InVision, and Intuit. Her professional career has consisted of researching and analyzing what makes design teams successful, and design’s overall role in a business.

The book guides readers from the very start of the design process—getting everyone onboard—to the very end—testing and validation methods. The book also includes a chapter on evangelism methods—for advocating for design and inspiring others—as well as next steps following your research.

Published 2013 | Buy the book | $39.39

2. Just Enough Research | Erika Hall

Orange book cover with white text

Next up is Erika Hall’s Just Enough Research —the guide to asking better questions and thinking critically about the responses. It’s one of two books written by Erika Hall, who shares her 20+ years of knowledge as Co-Founder of Mule Design Studios. In Just Enough Research, Erika shares the tried and tested UX research methods you can implement right away, no matter your team size or budget.

Just Enough Research covers the basics and the process, as well as topics like organizational research, user and customer research, evaluative research, surveys, and more. The book aims to help you uncover your own blind spots and biases, while understanding and harnessing your findings in order to do better research, faster.

Published 2013 | Buy the book | $29

🎧 Find out more about Erika and her thoughts on the relationship between design and business on The Optimal Path Podcast .

3. Think Like a UX Researcher: How to Observe Users, Influence Design, and Shape Business Strategy | David Travis & Philip Hodgson

Book cover with white text and photo of man exploring with a head torch shining a spotlight

Think Like a UX Researcher | David Travis & Philip Hodgson

Think Like a UX Researcher is a dive-in-anywhere book that looks to challenge the preconceptions you have about UX research. It looks at how you can plan and conduct UX research, analyze data, persuade teams to take action, and ultimately build a career in UX.

It includes some stand-out features, including thought triggers and exercises to test your UX knowledge, workshop ideas to strengthen your team’s UX muscles, and stories from experienced researchers detailing how you can implement UX research methods in your organization.

With over 50 years of UX research experience between them, Travis and Hodgson know a thing or two about investigating the user experience. It’s an insightful read for finding tools, inspiration and ideas to rejuvenate your thinking, inspire your team, and improve your craft.

Published 2019 | Buy the book | $45.56

4. Bottlenecks: Aligning UX Design with User Psychology | David C. Evans

Book cover with tangled colorful lines graphic

Bottlenecks | David C. Evans

David Evans’ Bottlenecks: Aligning UX Design with User Psychology connects cognitive psychology to explain the dos and don’ts of UX design. The book analyzes key concepts—such as perception and attention—on a psychological level before linking it back to UX design to uncover the best design for users.

Evans holds a Ph.D. in social psychology and currently works as a Senior Manager of Customer Research at Microsoft. In Bottlenecks , Evans shares the psychological processes impacting design success, before and after examples of pages enhanced by psychological alignments, and hypotheses for research to help better meet user needs.

The book promises to help designers, usability and user researchers, marketers and entrepreneurs with strategies for marketing and product development in the age of behavioral targeting. It’s essential reading for UX researchers and designers interested in learning more about the relationship between psychology and user experience design.

Published 2017 | Buy the book | $27.46

5. User Research: Improve Product and Service Design and Enhance Your UX Research | Stephanie Marsh

Blue book cover with rows of circles; some blank, some filled in, some with a person icon

User Research | Stephanie Marsh

Stephanie Marsh’s User Research: Improve Product and Service Design and Enhance Your UX Research is key reading for marketing and product leaders looking to implement UX research in their organization. It looks at key UX research methods—such as user testing, card sorting, surveys, A/B testing, and more—as well as how to interpret and analyze obtained data.

Marsh is an experienced UX researcher who’s dived into the user experience at a number of different organizations, including User Experience Manager at HSBC and User Experience Lead at the UK Ministry of Defence. They’re now UX Research Operations Lead at Springer Nature Group.

The book consists of 30 chapters separated into three main sections: the fundamentals, selecting and using user research methods, and analyzing and presenting your data. User Research is a practical guide that walks readers through the wide array of user research methods and how to use them.

Published 2022 | Buy the book | $40.27

6. Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests | Jeffrey Rubin and Dana Chisnell

Green book cover with white and yellow text

Handbook of Usability Testing | Jeffrey Rubin and Dana Chisnell

The Handbook of Usability Testing is a great intro into the tools and techniques necessary to create effective usability tests. It’s a practical guide for usability testing beginners, and a useful resource for teams looking to take UX research to the next level.

Both Rubin and Chisnell have ample experience in the UX research space, with a specific focus on usability testing. Rubin’s experience comes from 30 years as a human factors and usability research consultant and lecturer, and Chisnell’s from a career as a usability, user interface design, and technical communications consultant since 1982.

This UX research book dives deep into usability testing, including a rigorous step-by-step approach, common pitfalls to avoid, real-life examples and case histories, and usable templates, models, tables, and more.

Published 2008 | Buy the book | $20.79

7. Quantifying the User Experience: Practical Statistics for User Research | Jeff Sauro and James R. Lewis

Black book cover with red D20 dice and many small D6 dice

Quantifying the User Experience | Jeff Sauro & James R. Lewis

Quantifying the User Experience is the ideal book for UX researchers looking to further their UX research know-how. It’s a practical guide for using statistics to solve quantitative problems in user research.

Both Sauro and Lewis are internationally recognized in the user research field. Sauro is a pioneer in quantifying the user experience, and is the founding principal of MeasuringU—a company providing statistics and usability consulting to Fortune 1000 companies. Lewis is a Senior Human Factors Engineer at IBM, where he primarily focuses on the design and evaluation of user interfaces.

In their book, Sauro and Lewis discuss ways to quantify user research, summarize data and calculate margins of error, select appropriate sample sizes, and more. Each chapter includes a final summary of key points and references, as well as a set of problems and answers to test your knowledge.

Published 2012 | Buy the book | $56.32

8. Interviewing Users: Uncover Compelling Insights | Steve Portigal

Turquoise book cover with red geometric shapes and white speech bubbles

Interviewing Users | Steve Portugal

Interviewing Users is a staple read for any marketers, product people, or UX researchers looking to improve their user interviewing skills. The book provides invaluable interviewing techniques and tools that enable readers to conduct informative interviews with anyone.

Portigal has over 20 years of experience building user experience practices and interviewing a wide variety of people. In 2001, he founded Portigal Consulting, where he helps organizations bring insights about their users into their design and development processes.

Interviewing Users aims to turn your interviews from simply gathering information, into uncovering powerful insights about people. It includes tips on embracing how others see the world and building rapport during interviews, as well as templates, samples, and presentations.

Published 2013 | Buy the book | $36.48

9. Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior | Indi Young

Sage green book cover with multicolored lines and a red arrow

Mental Models | Indi Young

Indi Young’s Mental Models is a UX design book that highlights how understanding people’s reasons for doing things can help you build better experiences. The book is informed by Indi’s 30 years of experience in the design field, during which she co-founded the pioneering UX agency Adaptive Minds in 2001.

Mental Models shares Indi’s 29+ years of research experience, and how great research limits the risk further along in the design process. The book starts with a brief guide on how to use the book, before outlining three main sections: What, Why, When, and Who?, The Method, and Applications.

In these sections, Young delves into the importance of understanding your research reasons and audience, and how to go about conducting comprehensive user research.

It’s a roll-up-your-sleeves book for designers, managers, and anyone else interested in making strategic and successful designs. It helps UX designers and researchers better understand the importance of human psychology in design, and enables you to deepen your understanding of what makes designs outstanding.

Published 2008 | Buy the book | $43.89

10. Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better | Eric Reiss

Grey book cover with pale blue U shape and white and orange text

Usable Usability | Eric Reiss

UX guru Eric Reiss shares his decades of experience making products usable for everyone. Reiss’ experience as an information architecture specialist led him to his current role as CEO and Chairman of The FatDUX Group—DUX being an abbreviation for Designers of User Experience.

Usable Usability equips designers with guidelines and checklists for evaluating and improving products, highlights essential aspects for building the user experience, and addresses considerations for product clarity.

The book separates usability into 10 chapters that cover key considerations for UX design:

  • Understandable
  • Predictable

The 11th chapter then focuses on next steps, such as guerilla-style usability and formalized think-aloud tests. While not explicitly a UX research book, it’s a great reminder to UX designers of the basic design principles to keep in mind—and how to apply those in everyday UX design.

Published 2012 | Buy the book | $26.63

11. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People | Susan Weinschenk

Book cover with a pattern of multicolored dots

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People | Susan M. Weinschenk

Last up is Susan Weinschenk’s 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People.

Designers create with actions in mind—actions they want users to take upon interacting with the design. This book arms UX researchers and designers with insights and knowledge that enable them to build intuitive designs that consider human behavior and encourage users to take action.

Since 1985, Susan Weinschenk has been using her Ph.D. in psychology to contribute to the field of design and user experience. Weinshenk has published a total of five books relating to design, and currently works as Chief Behavioral Scientist and CEO at The Team W, Inc.

The book covers key considerations for designers and researchers alike, such as what keeps someone’s attention, what makes memories stick, how to predict the type of errors humans will make, and much more.

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know connects human nature to UX to enable researchers to understand users with little guesswork. It’s about what makes people tick, and why it should matter to you.

Published 2011 | Buy the book | $25.98

12. Bonus Mention: The Ultimate Guide to UX Research | Maze

Blue book cover with white text and path illustration

  • The Ultimate Guide to UX Research | Maze

Our bonus mention—and a go-to resource for UX designers and developers—is The Ultimate Guide to UX Research . Of course we’re biased, but it’s a must-read for all teams looking to conduct user research—whether that’s product or marketing.

The guide is a great resource for those looking to better understand anything and everything about UX research. It simplifies the process for non-UX researchers and enables anyone to learn what it takes to conduct effective UX research.

The guide includes:

  • How to create a research plan
  • Generative research: Definition, methods, and examples
  • Evaluative research: Definition, methods, and types
  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • UX Research methods
  • UX Research tools

It’s the perfect resource for turning a research idea into a research reality—regardless of your and your team’s experience.

Read The Ultimate Guide to UX Research online

4 More books to help you on your UX journey

If you consider the above 11 books your mandatory reading, consider this list your optional—but highly recommended—reading list. They’re not solely about UX design and research, but they’re packed full of strategies to help you sharpen your UX design tools.

1. The Lean Product Playbook | Dan Olsen

Whiteboard-style book cover with red and black handwritten text

The Lean Product Playbook | Dan Olsen

The Lean Product Playbook is a how-to guide for creating products that people love. Dan Olsen writes from his experience working with a variety of organizations, from small, early-stage startups to large public companies.

Many product managers, CEOs, and founders cite The Lean Product Playbook as a key resource when starting their journeys to building useful and successful products. It’s a practical, step-by-step process for implementing lean techniques from the get-go.

The book is split into three parts:

  • Core concepts
  • The lean product process

It’s a can’t-miss book for designing products that people love.

Published 2015 | Buy the book | $35

2. Thinking, Fast and Slow | Daniel Kahneman

White book cover with pencil and black text

Thinking, Fast and Slow | Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow is a staple for anyone looking to better their understanding of how humans work, and how the human brain is susceptible to making the same mistakes over and over.

Kahneman explains the two systems in our brain that impact decision-making: system one is fast and automatic, whereas system two is conscious, aware, and considerate. Kahneman details how each system makes decisions, and how they often lead us to incorrect answers.

It’s an insightful read for understanding people, including yourself. It enables you to get a better understanding of the human psyche, and how you can take advantage of fast thinking in your product design.

Published 2011 | Buy the book | $12

3. A Beginner’s Guide to Usability Testing | Maze

Purple book cover with white text and illustration of testing equipment

A Beginner's Guide to Usability Testing | Maze

The ultimate guidebook to usability testing, this ebook runs readers through the usability testing process, as well as the different types of usability testing available for UX research and the best tools to use.

Exploring methods like remote testing and guerilla usability testing, the guide also includes details on analyzing and presenting usability metrics, plus an inside look at some real-life usability testing examples.

Read A Beginner’s Guide to Usability Testing online

4. Writing Is Designing: Words and the User Experience | Michael J. Metts and Andy Welfle

Book cover with grey, yellow and pink abstract shapes

Writing is Designing | Michael J. Metts & Andy Welfle

Writing is Designing covers the importance and usefulness of words in UX design. Authors Michael J. Metts and Andy Welfle use their combined experience as product designers to share their insights on how words can create useful, usable experiences.

Some of the most notable chapters include:

  • Creating clarity: know what you’re designing
  • Inclusivity and accessibility: writing that works for everyone
  • Tone: meeting people where they are

Overall, it’s an eye-opening read for UX designers unfamiliar with the impact of the words around designs, and a great opportunity to expand your UX knowledge of ways that words can improve your designs.

Published 2020 | Buy the book | $44.06

Hungry for more? Take a look at our top 17 greatest graphic design books to take your visuals to the next level.

Improving UX research is a process

When it comes to UX research, one thing’s for sure—you’re not alone. Thousands of businesses—both large and small—are searching for the best way to conduct user research and improve the user experience.

Reading up on UX research developments and best practices is a great place to start, and these 11 books make it easy. Take your pick, find a relaxing reading spot, and get stuck in to a new perspective on UX research and design.

If you’re looking for additional resources, check out our library of UX, research and design guides and collections, as well as our UX research templates. You can also head over to The Optimal Path podcast, where we chat to different product people each episode and delve into the stories, ideas, and approaches that drive product decision-making.

Frequently asked questions about UX research books

What should I study for UX research?

There’s no set reading list for conducting useful UX research, but some books we’d recommend include:

  • Bottlenecks: Aligning UX with User Psychology | David C. Evans

The exact books you should be reading depend on your expertise—are you a beginner, an expert, or somewhere in between? Consider your existing knowledge and aim for a book you find challenging and engaging.

How do I practice UX research?

There are a variety of methods that you can use throughout your research process. You’ve likely heard the saying: practice makes perfect—and that applies to UX.

Continuous self-improvement and learning are key to becoming a UX research expert. Staying on top of industry trends and developments, reading the latest UX literature, and following the top UX industry experts will help you develop your skills and UX network.

Is UX research difficult?

There are parts of UX research that are tough—but those parts depend on your skills and experience. UX research is a lot easier when you’ve got the required UX research methods and resources for making it happen.

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Home - Learn UX - UX Books: 15+ Must-Reads in 2024 (Updated)

UX Books: 15+ Must-Reads in 2024 (Updated)

There’s a lot of information on UX out there. If you want to learn more about UX, become a UX designer, or improve yourself as a designer reading a book can be of great help. With that many books available, knowing where to begin can be difficult. My reading list of top UX books and recommendations in 2024 is a great place to start. Take a look!

  • Updated on January 3, 2024

UX Books: 15+ of the best must-reads in 2022

There are many, many excellent UX design books you can read. I’ll provide a list of essential must-read UX books you can read in 2024. Once you have read these books, you can consider yourself to have a solid understanding of UX theory.

After that, you can pick books from my more specific reading lists. These include UX books for beginners, UX research, and UX writing . I will provide them at the end of this post. Good luck!

Table of Contents

The benefits of reading books on ux.

There are a couple of routes you can take in starting learning about UX . Some are expensive, like online UX courses and bootcamps, while others are very time-consuming, like joining a university to get your master’s degree in UX.

Another option might be to read a nice book on UX. Just think of it. You can read books in your own time, at your own pace, and in a place of your choice. For example, you can read a book in your garden while enjoying a nice cup of tea, on a train to work, or just before bed.

Books are a lot cheaper and less time-consuming as well. You can listen to an audiobook while at work or while you take a walk. I like to listen to audiobooks while I drive to work. It’s very efficient!

Even in 2024, in the era of working-from-home and online collaboration, reading UX books can be your go-to choice when you want to become a UX designer.  While bootcamps and courses are either online or postponed, you can still order one or two books to read. You will not be delayed in your learning journey.

Essential UX books in 2024

Let’s start at the beginning. Here’s my reading list of top UX books that are a must-read regardless of your current position, goals, or experience as a designer.

The books I’m about to recommend should be a part of any UX reading list, as these books will help regardless of your experience.

The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things is an all-time classic in UX design. Therefore, it is a must-read for every UX designer. Written by  Don Norman  in 1988, this book is still relevant today. It aims to teach you fundamental principles on designing useful products that are delightful to use.

One of these principles is the idea of affordances in UX. Affordances are an essential subject when you want to  become a UX designer . Other important subjects are introductions to user-centered design, the Norman Door, and design thinking. In other words, go and read this UX masterpiece!

The Design of Everyday things explains how design acts as the bridge between an object and the user. Furthermore, it helps explain how good design can make the interaction between users and objects enjoyable. 

After its initial release, the book received a significant update in 2013. Because of this, the book is relevant for every UX designer today.

👉 You can get this book on Amazon .

Related post –  The Design of Everyday Things review .

Don’t Make Me Think

Don't Make Me Think

Yet another classic book on UX. This book is your go-to source for anything on usability. As you might know, usability is a big part of UX, making this a great book to help you learn about it as a UX professional.

Steve Krug states that good design is where you do not have to think about how you should interact with the design. Good design makes it easy for you to complete your tasks. You’ll learn how to make that happen.

Like The Design of Everyday Things, this book has had several updates—the most recent one being in 2013.

Don’t Make Me Think is an easy book to read. With just over 200 pages, it is pretty short as well. You could finish the book in just a few days. The book focuses on classic design rules like the 3-click-rule and whether or not you should still apply it today. There’s a lot of humor inside, which makes reading the book a breeze.

👉 You can get the book on Amazon .

The UX Jobs Handbook

UX Jobs Handbook overview

Yes, I’m mentioning my ebook in my list of must-read UX books. That’s because it is a very helpful book! The UX Jobs Handbook is a step-by-step approach to landing your first UX design job.

Over 50 pages of actionable tips, tricks, examples, and tutorials help you learn all job hunting essentials while you work your way to landing your first job as a UX designer. The ebook will help you learn the following and much more.

  • How to write a cover letter that will get you job interviews.
  • Tips, tricks, and templates for your portfolio.
  • How to prepare and ace your job interview.
  • And much more.

You can get the ebook in one of three bundles over on Gumroad. Check it out below.

No Bullshit Guide to UX

No bullshit guide to UX ebook

This is a UX ebook written by the great Hype4 Academy . As the title suggest, it will learn you about UX without all the fluff and one-liners.

I will try and do the same for this summary. No beating around the bush. This UX ebook is a must-read for any UX beginner. Take a look at the book on Gumroad below.

👉 You can get this ebook on Gumroad

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People

100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People

You design your applications to be used by people. It is called user experience design for a reason. To do this effectively, you must know who your users are, what they want, and how they work.

Understanding your users will benefit the quality of your design considerably. This book will help you with just that; understanding your users. It does so by taking a closer look at how users work and perceive things. Because of this, UX researchers will also benefit from reading this book.  But more on UX research posts later.

In her book, Susan Weinschenk talks about how human beings function on a very deep primal level. One example I found very interesting was how we’re unconsciously triggered to focus on someone’s face. I didn’t know that before! It brings many options to my UX design work. Here are some more examples.

  • We can have a fight-or-flight response for any object we see.
  • In time, we learn new associations with colors and branding.
  • You can divide how people perceive info into how we see, read, and think.

As a UX designer, you can make great use of the things this book teaches you. Therefore, this book is a must-read and should be on the reading list of every UX designer.

Smashing UX Design: Foundations for Designing Online User Experiences

Smashing UX Design

Smashing UX Design is a book that takes an in-depth look into UX. With well over 400 pages, this book is nothing to take lightly! You can divide Smashing UX design into four parts.

  • An introduction to UX. It makes the book an exciting read for beginners as well.
  • UX research.
  • The tools you will need as a designer.
  • Specific design cases to go from theory into practice.

The structure of Smashing UX Design is very clear. The book builds on every chapter that passes with new info and insights. It starts very basic and moves carefully to more complex topics.

The book provides you with everything there is to know on UX. Do you want to learn about a particular type of design workshop, specific tools for designing a great landing page, or an introduction to UX research? This book has you covered.

That’s all there is to say on Smashing UX Design. If you have a UX-related question, this book is for you. However, keep in mind that the book is primarily aimed at UX design for the web. The author doesn’t talk that much about mobile.

You’re My Favorite Client

You're My Favorite Client

Mike Monteiro is a very outspoken designer. And that’s an understatement. He is known for his talks and lectures around the world and for being the co-founder and design director of  Mule Design , an interaction design studio based in San Francisco.

You can view one of his lectures on how designers destroy the world just below. It is one of my favorite design talks.

In addition, he is the author of multiple books, including the one I recommend here. The UX book is called You’re My Favorite Client, and it is the follow-up to his first book, Design Is A Job.

With only 127 pages, this book is a short read, especially compared to some of the other UX books on this reading list. The book zooms in on the relationship you need to build with your clients to create a successful product. Compared to other books on this list, it stands out as they focus more on hard skills.

Client-designer relationships can be complicated. To make it a success, you have to focus on the soft skills of a UX designer. In the book, Mike Monteiro talks about the step-by-step process of selling and creating your design work, including the questions you must ask and the people you must hire. Especially that final part makes this book also interesting for design managers and even clients.

I recommend all four of Mike Monteiro’s books, but I had to choose one; this book is the one.

Free UX books

There’s an easy way of reading some of my recommended books on UX for free. It can be of great help since getting a lot of books can still be an investment close to that of a UX course.

Try out Amazon’s Audible Plus. You can listen to books while doing something else. For example, I listen to audiobooks while I commute to work.

This excellent service has multiple books found on this UX reading list, including The Design of Everyday Things, the books by Mike Monteiro that I’ve mentioned previously, and more.

Try the service for 30 days for free. Cancel anytime!

Best UX books for beginners

When you’re trying to  become a UX designer , reading books on UX will help you develop an understanding of the theories behind UX. Here’s my recommended reading list of top UX books for beginners.

The first two books are also part of my essential UX booklist, as discussed above. Start with the following books. Both of them are listed above.

  • Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman.

Learning UX is like learning to ride a bike. First, you start with some assistance like training wheels.

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug is like those training wheels. You’ll start easy with UX basics, how-to’s, and principles to get you going.

After that, the training wheels come off when you read The Design of Everyday Things. This book is more abstract and conceptual. It tackles real-life situations, while Don’t Make Me Think is very concrete and focuses on best practices and actionable tips and tricks.

Once you’re done with these first two, continue with the following beginner-friendly UX design books.

Universal Principles of Design

Universal Principles of Design

This book is a top read for every beginning UX designer. In the current edition, you can learn 150 design principles. Just think of The Design of Everyday Things and its seven design principles. Then, add another 143 to that list, and you have the Universal Principles of Design!

As a UX designer, you need to speak the language of design. This book teaches you just that.

You can use this book as a dictionary for UX design. With a new design principle every few pages, all you have to do is reference a page you want to know more about.

Then, by adding a sticky note, you remember where to look. Does a more senior UX designer talk about a principle you don’t know? Just look it up in your new UX dictionary!

Universal Principles is a contender for the number one spot on every beginning UX designer’s reading list. It helps designers get started the right way. In addition, the book includes incredible examples and illustrations, which makes it an easy and fun read.

Lean UX

Lean UX is an excellent book for UX beginners, written by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden.

Most clients you’re going to collaborate with work using an Agile framework, like Scrum and Kanban. Scrum events like the daily standup, sprint retrospectives, and reviews are common for almost any UX designer. This book helps you find your place within a Lean and Agile working environment.

Yes, UX and Agile have some differences in their way of working. However, lean UX will give you the tools you need to work together with Agile-minded teams and clients efficiently and productively. And if you need more help, you can always take a look at the  ultimate Scrum guide for UX designers  I wrote.

The User Experience Team of One

The User Experience Team of One

During your design career, it could happen that you’re either going to be the only designer at your company or that you’re going to have to collaborate with clients that not see the benefit of good UX design.

That’s where this book comes in. The UX Team of One teaches you how you can get the design done and make an impact while being a one-person UX design team. It focuses on getting more UX work done in less time and how you survive as a lone UX professional.

UX for Beginners: 100 Short Lessons to Get You Started

UX for Beginners. A Crash Course in 100 Short Lessons

This book is all about the  UX Crash Course blog  you can find at The Hipper Element. Joel Marsh, a designer and author, wrote both the blog and book.

UX for Beginners is a book that teaches you, as the title suggests, 100 basics about UX. Like the Universal Principles of Design I mentioned earlier, this is essentially a very long listicle. Together, they provide you with 250 principles. That’s instant growth as a designer right there!

These fundamental design principles can help any beginner become a better UX designer. Even experienced designers can still learn a thing or two from this book.

UX research books

Research is one of the building blocks of UX design. Some of the books on my UX reading list also cover some of this expertise. Yet, I believe UX research to be a skill that is too important not to have its list of recommended books. Here’s my list of UX research books. Take a look!

Quantifying the User Experience

Quantifying the User Experience: Practical Statistics for User Research

Design is about more than just putting pixels in order. Yes, it is important, but there is way more that you will need to do as a UX designer. I’m talking about user research, or UX research in short. As I said before, user research is a unique skill that deserves its own list.

One of the most challenging parts of being a designer is measuring the success of your design. Most people think that design is something subjective. You either like it, or you don’t. Quantifying the User Experience is a UX research book that gives you the tools to do qualitative and quantitative user research. You’ll learn how to break through the image of how design is subjective.

After reading the book, you will be able to measure the success of your UX design work. In addition, by using these tools, you can convince stakeholders of the  importance of UX design . It will, in turn, help you become a better designer.

Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior

Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior

A lot happens inside a user’s mind when they interact with your design. For example, your users might have a prejudice or bias you’re not aware of. In other cases, using your designs might be scary for first-time users.

How someone sees an object and how he thinks it will work is what we call a mental model. User research is an essential part of your design process when working as a UX designer. Understanding the mental model involved is key to delivering a user experience that’s both helpful and delightful.

That’s where this UX research book comes in. Indi Young, the author of Mental Models, describes how to approach such a user research process in great detail. If you’re up for a design project that involves UX research, this is an essential book that has to be on every reading list.

Best books for UX writing

Text is becoming a more significant part of the user experience every day. That’s why  UX writing  is an integral part of the modern UX designer’s toolbox.

Just think of it like this. One way to communicate is by sending a text message. Every product you use has a form of text (or speech) in one way or another. As a UX writer, you have to be prepared for that.

These books on UX writing can help you learn the skills you need to make communication within your product easy to use and understand.

Strategic Writing for UX: Drive Engagement, Conversion, and Retention with Every Word

Strategic Writing for UX

Let’s start with the author. Torrey Podmajersky is a very experienced UX writer. He has working experience at multiple big companies like Google and Microsoft.

She believes UX writing is only about the text within the scope of a UX designer. These texts include headings, call-to-actions, and button labels. UX writers work very closely with copywriters and (in part) marketeers. However, it is very much its own specialty.

Strategic Writing for UX takes a close look at common topics within UX writing, like conversational design, what UX writing is (and isn’t), best practices, and how to measure work effectiveness.

The book does so in a transparent and down-to-earth way. As a result, I can recommend this book to UX designers at any experience level.

👉 You can get Strategic Writing for UX on Amazon .

Further reading

I will be updating this reading list whenever I see new UX books that I think will help you become a UX designer. In addition, I’ll be creating follow-up lists focused on specific topics, like UI design books.

In the meantime, I suggest you read more about  becoming a UX designer . After all, theory on UX is an essential part of every UX designer’s toolbox. Reading books is just one part of that.

Some of the links of this page are affiliate links. I might earn a commission if you order through these links. This doesn’t cost you anything, but it helps me run this website.

Do you have feedback on this article? Missing something? Or just a question? Reach out to me and I’ll get back to you!

Profile picture of author Nick Groeneveld, a senior UX designer and mentor for The Designer's Toolbox

About the author

Hi! I'm Nick Groeneveld , a senior designer from the Netherlands with experience in UX, visual design, and research. I'm a UX coach that supports other designers and have completed design projects in finance, tech, and the public sector.

Through The Designer's Toolbox, I'm an Educational Partner for Interaction Design Foundation.

☎️ Book a 1:1 mentor meeting with me or let's connect on LinkedIn , Twitter and Medium .

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best books for ux research

The Best UX Research Books You Need to Read in 2024

best books for ux research

As new trends emerge and consumer needs continue to shift, keeping up to date with the latest thinking, methods, and best practices in UX research will help you stay ahead of the curve. That's where the right books can make all the difference.

Below, you’ll find a list of classics and more recent publications that will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to succeed. 

The books we picked cover diverse aspects of UX research, including usability testing, user interviews, quantitative analysis, and mental models, providing you with a comprehensive toolkit to design experiences that truly resonate with users.  ‍

Measure user satisfaction with your product or service using a Net Promoter Score survey :

Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability | Steve Krug

First published in 2000, Don’t Make Me Think remains a definitive guide on web usability that encourages you to understand how users typically interact with websites.

At the heart of Krug's philosophy is the simple yet profound assertion that a well-designed website or product should allow users to achieve their goals easily and efficiently. With a brilliant knack for distilling complex concepts into digestible content, Krug guides the reader through the core principles of user-friendly design.

Don't Make Me Think also serves as a practical guide to usability testing . Krug offers easy-to-follow advice on conducting usability tests, allowing readers to apply the principles he discusses and learn from real-life user interactions.

The revisited edition, published in 2013, offers updated examples and principles as well as a section on mobile usability . 

The Design of Everyday Things | Don Norman

In his bestseller, Don Norman embarks on a mission to decode the mystery behind why some objects please their users while others frustrate them. 

The book is replete with relatable examples from our day-to-day lives, making it easy to grasp the essence of his design principles.

‍ The Design of Everyday Things is far more than a design book; it's an empathetic call to action for creating a world that respects human needs and limitations. It promotes an understanding that effective design isn't about making objects beautiful or flashy but about making users' interactions as intuitive and enjoyable as possible.

Just Enough Research | Erika Hall

In her book, Erika Hall serves up an invaluable primer on the role and execution of research in the design process. Straddling the line between academic theory and real-world application, this book cuts through the fog often associated with the subject, demystifying it with clear, concise guidance.

Hall's central premise is compelling and straightforward: research isn't an add-on or an option; it is an integral part of the design process. She deftly showcases the importance of carrying out just enough research to inform your design decisions and ensure that your product resonates with users.

The book shines in its ability to explain complex concepts in an approachable and relatable manner. Hall's writing style is casual and conversational, which aids in turning a potentially dry topic into an engaging read. 

Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research | Mike Kuniavsky

Observing the User Experience by Mike Kuniavsky is a go-to reference for UX professionals and enthusiasts that offers a holistic and in-depth approach to understanding users' needs and experiences.

From the get-go, Kuniavsky emphasizes the significance of research in the design process. His approach is thoroughly user-centered , underscoring the fact that effective design is not about assumptions, but about understanding actual users and their interactions with your product or service.

The true strength of this book lies in the extensive range of UX research methods and techniques it covers. Kuniavsky doesn't merely gloss over these methods; he provides comprehensive explanations and practical advice on implementing them. From field studies and surveys to diary studies and usability tests, readers are equipped with a robust toolkit that can be adapted to various contexts and needs.

Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights | Steve Portigal

Steve Portigal offers a comprehensive guide to one of the most essential skills in the UX researcher's toolkit: conducting effective user interviews . This book shines a light on the nuances of this seemingly straightforward activity, presenting it as a crucial way to unearth insights that lead to successful products and services.

Portigal delves into the art of user interviews with a level of detail and thoughtfulness. He skillfully navigates the intricacies of planning, conducting, and analyzing interviews, revealing the richness and complexity of this form of research.

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The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide | Leah Buley 

The book by Leah Buley is a remarkable resource designed for UX professionals who often find themselves single-handedly managing the entire scope of user experience within an organization. It’s as much a survival guide as it is an empowering manifesto for UX enthusiasts who often grapple with limited resources and a lack of understanding from other teams.

Buley offers practical tips and strategies on how to manage multiple roles, streamline workflows, advocate for UX importance, and create an impact within the organization. Her guidance is pragmatic and actionable, enabling readers to effectively navigate their unique positions.

One of the significant strengths of this book is Buley's practical approach to UX. She presents a wide array of methodologies, techniques, and tools that readers can use, even with constrained resources. These methods cover the entire UX design process from research and ideation to prototyping and usability testing.

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

In her book, Susan Weinschenk explores the intersection between design and psychology, providing designers with a deeper understanding of how people think, feel, and behave.

Each factor is grounded in psychological theory, but the author goes beyond mere theory to show how these principles can be practically applied to design. Weinschenk presents her insights in a list format, with each of the “100 things” serving as a standalone piece of advice or insight. This structure makes the content digestible, enabling readers to dive in and out at their own pace. It also allows for easy reference, making it an invaluable resource for busy designers.

Quantifying the User Experience: Practical Statistics for User Research | Jeff Sauro and James R Lewis

Quantifying the User Experience by Jeff Sauro and James R Lewis takes a subject that can often seem intimidating and inaccessible and makes it understandable and applicable for UX professionals.

The authors do not merely describe statistical methods; they explain why these methods are necessary and how they can be used to enhance the quality and reliability of user research.

They go beyond the numbers, showing readers how to interpret statistical results and how to use these results to guide design decisions and strategies.

Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior | Indi Young

This exceptional guidebook puts human cognition at the forefront of effective design strategy. It introduces mental models as powerful tools to understand users' thoughts and motivations, and ultimately to create products that align with their expectations and needs.

Young's approach to understanding users is revolutionary in its depth. The concept of mental models provides a framework for capturing users' thoughts, emotions, and motivations in various contexts. By mapping these cognitive processes, designers are empowered to create solutions that truly resonate with their audience.

The author guides her readers through the entire process of developing and using mental models, from conducting user interviews and interpreting the results to creating detailed diagrams and using them to inform design strategy.

Mental Models is more than just a book on user experience design; it's a journey into the human mind. It offers an invaluable perspective for designers seeking to understand their users on a deeper level. While it may require a bit more time to consume than other UX resources, the depth of insight it provides is well worth the effort.

The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond | Jesse James Garrett

The book offers a comprehensive overview of user experience, providing an insightful guide to the philosophy, methods, and techniques of user-centered design .

Garrett's writing is well-paced and accessible, making it an excellent introduction for beginners, while still providing enough depth to be valuable for experienced professionals. 

The Elements of User Experience covers a broad range of topics, from strategy and scope to structure and surface, taking readers on a journey through each of these layers and detailing their role in creating a cohesive and compelling user experience. 

While the title suggests a focus on web design, the principles and methods Garrett discusses can be applied to any medium. This makes the book a valuable resource for anyone involved in designing user experiences, regardless of their specific area of work.

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Automate your user research with Survicate

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Surveys play an integral role in this process, providing a direct line of communication with users. They can help you collect qualitative data, gauge user satisfaction, and uncover pain points that might otherwise go unnoticed.

With its intuitive interface and powerful features, Survicate makes creating and managing surveys a breeze. It allows you to easily collect feedback across various touchpoints, enabling you to obtain a holistic understanding of your users' experiences and expectations.

Simply sign up for free and enjoy unlimited user insights with Survicate!

best books for ux research

We’re also there

best books for ux research

best books for ux research

  • January 5, 2024

Top 26 books anyone in UX should read in 2024 (designers, writers, and researchers)

Want to expand your knowledge of UX writing, content design, and research? We’ve got a complete list of books for you right here.

Shortcuts: Jump Straight To

The rise of ux.

User experience design, research, and writing are all children of the digital revolution. Today there’s an app for everything, and there is massive, growing demand for people who can create great digital experiences .

UX researchers learn about people’s behavior and collect relevant data, UX writers and content designers use that data to create content for digital products and interfaces, and designers visualize the content and data in a user-friendly and intuitive way.

Why it’s worth reading about UX

Alongside the rise of UX, there has been a steady rise of books on the subject. In fact, there are so many that we’ll probably never get to the bottom of the pile.

I know; books can be overwhelming.  Is there anything more stressful than a growing number of books waiting to be read? The thing is, we all know that books are good for us. They give us in-depth knowledge in a way articles never will and keep our minds active. And if you’re an aspiring UX writer, reading more will do wonders for your writing skills.

If you find it hard to get going with books, you’ll find some reading tips at the end of this article. But first, check out the recommendations from me and other members of the UX Writing Hub crew!

UX writing books | Books for UX writers

Strategic writing for ux by torrey podmajersky.

Strategic Writing for UX book

Torrey Podmajersky used to work on the copy of Xbox and now works at Google. In her latest book (released in July 2019), she shares the strategic wisdom she’s picked up during the years. 

Content design by Sarah Winters (was Richards)

content design book

Clear, concise, and useful from start to finish, with tons of insights for UX writers. Plus, it gets top marks for presenting everything in a way that makes it easy to digest . Written by Sarah Winters, who led the team that created the content style guide for the UK government. 

I had a chat with her about her process of finding her way as a content designer in the Writers in Tech podcast .

Microcopy: The Complete Guide by Kinneret Yifrah

This book is called “the bible of microcopy ” for a reason. If you want to become a UX writer and plan to read just one single book, make it this one. As it includes lots of examples, it’s also great as a reference book when it comes to creating different microcopy scenarios.

The Business of UX Writing by Yael Ben-David

The cover of Yael Ben-David's book The Business of UX Writing

As UX writers, we learn to focus on user needs and pain points, and rightly so. But working only on user goals and forgetting about the business goals may affect business results. And without decent business results, the product could eventually go bust .

That’s why it’s better to aim for the sweet spot where user needs meet business goals . Yael Ben-David explains everything we need to know in her book The Business of UX Writing . Besides a complete framework, she gives us plenty of concrete examples of how UX writing is good for business. These examples will come in handy every time we need to show the value of UX writing and the effect it can have on ROI (return on investment).

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Everybody Writes

Every chapter of this book is a gem with insights from the traditional writing world. You’ll get lots of practical tips you can implement in any piece of content you create. My favorite takeaway is the section about working with great editors and how they can change your life. The same goes for great UX writers who edit the copy in your product interface!

Nicely Said by Nicole Fenton

Nicely Said book

Top writing tips with a strategic edge for all kinds of web editors . This is one of the first books I recall that talked about writing for the web and digital interfaces, a topic that had been overlooked for years. Beautiful illustrations throughout the book make it an easy read.

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

best books for ux research

Cognitive psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker takes a science-based approach to writing and sheds new light on many old, outdated concepts . A must-read for anyone writing in the English language.

Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch

Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch

While language is always changing, the internet has accelerated the process like never before. From SMS and emails to blogs and social media, online communication tools have affected how we use language on every level.

Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch explains how emojis, memes and different kinds of LOLS barged into our conversations, and why it’s a good thing.

If this sounds interesting, definitely check out the You Are Not So Smart podcast episode with Gretchen too.

Conversations with Things: UX Design for Chat and Voice by Diana Deibel and Rebecca Evanhoe

Conversations with Things: UX Design for Chat and Voice by Diana Deibel and Rebecca Evanhoe

Chatbots and voice user interfaces have made tremendous progress in the last few years. And still, many of them offer a mediocre user experience at best. Why? One reason is that constructing a human conversation with a machine is easier said than done.

Diana Deibel and Rebecca Evanhoe share invaluable insights for everyone interested in conversation design , with practical tips on how to improve the UX of voice UIs .

UX design books | Books for UX designers

Universal principles of design by william lidwell, kritina holden and jill butler.

best books for ux research

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Voices That Matter) by Susan Weinschenk

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know

This classic from 2011 is still mega useful both for designers and for writers who want to develop their design thinking .

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

the war of art book

If you’re guilty of procrastination , you’re not alone. This book will help you get over it.

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Don't Make Me Think book

Another classic that’s still relevant for *everyone* who works with the web in any shape or form.

Solving Product Design Exercises: Questions & Answers by Artiom Dashinsky

The book Solving Product Design Exercises: Questions & Answers by Artiom Dashinsky

This little gem of a book helps you to get ready for your next design interview. It breaks down the process step by step and shows you exactly how to prepare for that dreaded interview exercise .

Next up on my UX design reading list is this one, released in November 2019:

User Friendly by Cliff Kuang and Robert Fabricant

UX research books | Books for researchers

Just enough research by erika hall.

Just enough research book

Erika Hall’s book is the cornerstone not just for UX researchers, but for anyone in a product team (including stakeholders). People need to care more about data- and research-driven design, and this guide tells you exactly how to do it. I also had a fantastic conversation with Erika about how to plan your design research on the Writers in tech podcast .

More UX research books on my reading list:

Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights by Steve Portigal

The User’s Journey: Storymapping Products That People Love by Donna Lichaw

Other UX-related books | Books for all content and product people

Mismatch by kat holmes.

Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design by Kat Holmes

Wish you were more aware of inclusive design? Mismatch is a great place to start. This book explains why we should stop thinking of accessibility as something to fix for the benefit of a minority. After all, disabilities affect everyone, sooner or later – whether it is for a short period or permanently.

Cross-cultural design by Senongo Akeem

The book Cross-cultural design by Senongo Akpem

Great read if you’re involved with multilingual or multicultural products . Get lots of insights on how to approach cultural differences and learn what questions you need to ask before launching language versions.

World Wide Waste  by Gerry McGovern

World Wide Waste by Gerry McGovern

It’s easy to assume that digital communications and e-commerce are better for the environment than physical meetings and traditional trade.

As Gerry McGovern shows in his book World Wide Waste, we need to think again. Every time we publish something or interact online, servers around the world consume energy. Not to mention the fuel needed to store the messages in our full inboxes. This book is a great start for everyone who wants to become more aware of how our computers create pollution.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational book

I read this one when I was in high school (13 years ago!). Dan Ariely’s research on human behavior blew my mind, and it still does. Totally inspiring and way ahead of its time. If you know Dan, please tell him I would love to interview him for my Writers in Tech podcast 🙂 

Nudge by Richard H. Thaler

Nudge book

This gem explains how to encourage people to take action, whether you’re working on a new app or writing a note for the tip jar in a bar. It’s an inspiring book that will help you to understand what influences people to make a decision. 

Measure What Matters by John Doerr

Measure What Matters book

As a data-driven person, I design, write, and create only things that I can measure. 

This book helped me understand my OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and the actions I need to take to reach them. You’ll find out how companies like Google and Intuit measure their success and optimize their results in an ever-changing world. 

Everyday Information Architecture by Lisa Maria Martin

The book Everyday Information Architecture by Lisa Maria Martin

As a UX professional, you will come across information architecture sooner if not later. Brace yourself by reading this excellent book on how to organize content for digital interfaces .

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown 

Essentialism book

In a world where digital products fight for our attention, focus has become an important commodity . In this book, you’ll learn how to cut through the clutter and decide what you need to focus on versus what is not that essential. 

Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro

Ruined by design book

My top tip about ethical design, published in 2019. It’s a huge wake-up call for the design industry and how UX people can help design a world we all want to live in.

Check out my chat with Mike Monteiro on Writers in Tech , too!

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

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

The first hard copy of a UX book I ever had is a bestselling game-changer about how to create addictive products without pushy content and expensive advertising .

How does that fit in with ethical design? Listen to my talk with Nir Eyal on the Writers in Tech podcast , where we talk about ethics and much more.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR   by David Meerman Scott

The book The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

It can also come in handy for UX writers who find themselves battling with the marketing department, as it gives plenty of arguments for a user-focused approach in marketing too.

Reading tips to get going with books

That’s it for now! Overwhelmed? Here are a few tips on how to get going:

  • First of all, you may think that you don’t have time for books, but you do. Set aside a little bit of time to read: 30 minutes in the morning, for example. Or whenever works for you. Stick to it for a week and see how it goes!
  • Tackle one book at a time. Pick one that catches your attention and forget about all the others for a while.
  • Thanks to technology, there are numerous ways to read. It doesn’t have to be a regular hardcopy book – try a Kindle or other ebook reader, or listen to books on Audible. Go on, give it a go and see what you think 🙂
  • There are also lots of helpful reading apps. For example, if you use Kindle Cloud Reader and Google Chrome, you can install the speed-reading extension Kreeder.

Final thoughts

Understanding and implementing insights from the books on this list doesn’t just make work more fun, it has also made me a better professional in my day-to-day work. Make time for reading, and nail your next UX project or task!

Have you read a book that should be on this list? Shoot an email to [email protected] and let me know about it.

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This article was co-written with Anja Wedberg

Yuval Keshtcher

Hosts the Writers in Tech podcast and works and the founder and CEO of the UX Writing Hub.

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Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research

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Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research 2nd Edition

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  • Explains how to balance usability with creativity and originality
  • A valuable resource for designers, developers, project managers -- anyone whose work affects the end user experience
  • Provides a real-world perspective on research. Helps you do user research cheaply and quickly, and present it persuasively
  • Gives you the tools and confidence to perform user research on your own design, tuning user experience to the unique needs of your product and its users.
  • ISBN-10 0123848695
  • ISBN-13 978-0123848697
  • Edition 2nd
  • Publisher Morgan Kaufmann
  • Publication date September 21, 2012
  • Language English
  • Dimensions 7.46 x 1 x 9.27 inches
  • Print length 608 pages
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Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research

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Editorial Reviews

"In this second edition, the authors update an important contribution to the emerging discipline of user experience (UX) research…This book is one of many noteworthy titles from Morgan Kaufmann in this subject area. It is chock full of practical examples and advice for both novice and experienced practitioners." --ComputingReviews.com, January 2013

"Anyone even remotely interested in involving participants and observing their reaction and interaction with the product in order to enhance the overall user acceptance should deeply benefit from this book. I very much liked the practical examples, tables, and diagrams which have given this book a more vibrant feel and allowed the reader to feel like he can use this textbook directly in the practice of establishing some user experience tests. I think the textbook is profoundly informational and was a joy to read." --Software Engineering News, March 2012

"You'll like Mike Kuniavsky's broad selection of practical user research methods--presented clearly and usably. And you'll like his timing too: while recent books focus on the whys of user experience, many are now ready for the hows. Observing the User Experience does just that: It demonstrates how to discover what is in users' heads, and suggests how we might balance those considerations with business objectives." --Lou Rosenfeld, co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

"Wow! So many of the user experience research methods we have refined and used over the years are now organized and described in detail in one book. It is an essential reference for any practitioner." --Christian Rohrer, Manager, User Experience Research, Yahoo!

"Observing the User Experience provides the reader with a wealth of information. We now have a guideline that can be used to gain insight into those mysterious figures...our users. Knowing who our users are, what they need, and how they might use the things we build for them is the most important part of any product development cycle. Mike Kuniavsky's focus in this book is on the user experience as it relates to online interfaces, but ANYONE who builds ANYTHING can gain valuable knowledge from reading this book." --David Hoffer, Senior User Interface Designer, CTB/McGraw-Hill

"I love Observing the User Experience! This comprehensive guide approaches user experience research like never before, and is well-written, easy-to-read, and quite user friendly. It provides a real-world example of how research is done in just enough detail that it can both inform a CEO of the role of usability research as well as introduce methodology to someone starting out in the field. Bravo!" --Kelly Braun, Usability Manager, Ebay

"Mike Kuniavsky offers many practical procedures to conduct and analyze the results of your own custom usability tests. He shares lots of personal stories from the trenches, many of which are painfully ironic. The hope is that his knowledge will help spare you the pain of making the same mistakes others have made before you." --from the foreword by Lynda Weinman, Author and Founder, lynda.com, Inc.

"Kuniavsky presents information logically, often anticipating potential questions by providing extensive explanations. His text is readable and easily understandable. He incorporates interesting quotes from various scholars, keeping readers' interest by breaking up the strict presentation of information. The overall layout and conversational tone make the text an enjoyable read and useful reference." --Kalle Medhurst - Technical Communications

"The best general how-to handbook on user research remains Mike Kuniavsky's Observing the User Experience. For the reader who wants to integrate contextual design into a fast-paced development cycle, but isn't sure how, this book will be a godsend. Even when their advice can't be followed to the letter, the book, like the authors method, can be adapted to your needs." --Networker Magazine

"Mike Kuniavsky's Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research is a welcome addition to the half dozen essential books on my cubicle shelf. This book provides lucid, personable, experienced advice that could only come from a seasoned consultant who has seen the good, bad, and ugly of web and application design. Its purpose is to give a solid foundation to any design team in the crucial beginning stages of a project by answer the questions: How do we go about learning who our users are an what they really need? And how do we do this in a way that helps us make a strong case for our design decisions to the people in charge?" --Andrew Hinton

From the Back Cover

  • Explains how to create usable products that are still original and creative.
  • Provides a real-world perspective on research, with tips on conducting user research inexpensively and quickly, and on persuasively presenting the results.
  • Gives readers the tools and confidence to get started fast, while introducing more advanced questions and techniques.

About the Author

Product details.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Morgan Kaufmann; 2nd edition (September 21, 2012)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 608 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0123848695
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0123848697
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 3.62 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 7.46 x 1 x 9.27 inches
  • #21 in User Experience & Website Usability
  • #26 in Human-Computer Interaction (Books)
  • #37 in Computer Systems Analysis & Design (Books)

About the authors

Mike kuniavsky.

I am a consultant, writer, entrepreneur and designer exploring the intersections of high technology and everyday life. I have been a user experience design consultant since 1994 and have helped hundreds of companies and organizations design effective, pleasurable and profitable online, environmental and device user experiences. In 2006 I cofounded ThingM, a ubiquitous computing consulting company. Previously, I was a cofounder of Adaptive Path, a leading San Francisco internet consultancy, and the founder of Wired Digital's User Experience Lab. I live in San Francisco.

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Ryan Holiday

15 Essential UX/UI Design Books to Read in 2022

best books for ux research

Whether you're new to the design world, or an experienced user experience designer, it can be overwhelming to keep up with the multidisciplinary nature of product design & UX design. Unless you're working in a large design team, chances are you're expected to wear a lot of hats; lists of roles or disciplines that are important to ensure we're designing the right products, the right way, that users will love .

UX design has come a long way in 2021. Most businesses are embracing great user experience as a valuable competitive advantage, and today’s consumers expect (and accept) nothing less. Design finally has a seat at the table. But it’s a massive area of intellectual enquiry. It's not uncommon for employers and product managers to expect a wide spectrum of skills from even a junior UX designer—visual design, website design, UI prototyping, copywriting, UX research, lean UX principles, product design and management, brand design, user empathy and psychology, HTML/CSS, interaction design, mobile app design, data analytics and communication skills can all fall under the umbrella of "UX design".

This can be particularly daunting if you're studying or transitioning into UX/UI design from graphic design, print design, or even web design. As soon as you've mastered one tool, framework or technology, something else comes along. If you're working in a small team, the burden to be a unicorn UX designer is even heavier. You might already be wearing some of these hats, while other roles might be shared with product managers or developers. 

As designers, we're never 100% satisfied with our skillset or work. We're our own worst critics. Even the most experienced designers struggle to execute on their ideas, evolve, and self-train in this changing industry. You probably experience imposter syndrome . Personally, my comfort zone falls apart in 6-month cycles of growth and imposter syndrome sinks in. I'm a big fan of Seth Godin 's blog , and this one observation on why creatives are so prone to imposter syndrome has always stuck with me:

“The big reason is that we're all impostors... You're not imagining that you're an impostor, it's likely that you are one. Yes, you're an impostor. So am I and so is everyone else.” — Seth Godin , on Imposter Syndrome

Even the best designers are just "hacking" it most of the time and learning new skills as they go. It's OK to feel overwhelmed by the number of things every designer needs to learn. The best approach I've found to move past imposter syndrome is to embrace it and adopt a mentality of incremental improvement— make a habit of improving your skills by 1% every day. Once you realise you're not Jack and you're never going to be a master of all of these trades, you can instead focus on becoming a life-long learner.

In improving yourself, don't just browse trends on Muzli and Dribbble and pigeon-hole yourself to design principles books and courses, learn about psychology and business, follow broader blogs on design thinking and user psychology, and don't shy away from learning difficult new skills and tools in your spare time that you might not even use in your day-to-day gig. Reading across a broad range of subjects is a great way to open up new horizons, train your brain and expose yourself to parallel ways of design thinking and problem-solving. If you can turn reading and improving your skills into a daily habit , the compounding effect over just a few years will put you decades ahead. The simple step you've taken to research this list puts you ahead of 95% of designers in your position.

How to get the most out of design books

It may seem strange to be compiling a list of (mostly) paper books for a digital-focused profession. I'd highly recommend picking up a physical copy wherever possible. How often are you going to flick through and refresh on your pirated copy of Steve Krug 's Don't Make Me Think if it's buried in ... /dropbox/03_resources/books/design/Don't Make Me Think - Steve Krug.pdf?

If you truly want to get the most value from any of the books on this list, commit to reading and absorbing them. The $20-30 investment is worth it in the long-term if it improves your game by just 0.1%.

“A really good book costs $10 or $20 and can change your life in a meaningful way. It’s not something I believe in saving money on. This was even back when I was broke and I had no money. I always spent money on books. I never viewed that as an expense. That’s an investment to me. I probably spend 10 times as much money on books as I actually get through. In other words, for every $200 worth of books I buy, I actually end up making it through 10%. I’ll read $20 worth of books, but it’s still absolutely worth it.” — Naval Ravikant , founder of AngelList

Once you've read a great design book, keep it in eyesight from your work station for easy reference. Set up a bookshelf at work where your colleagues can learn from them as well. It will make you look well-read and I promise a great book from this list will be more useful there.

There are thousands of UX design books on the market today and countless lists of long “must-read UX books” that recommend the same titles. Alan Cooper 's About Face and Don Norman 's The Design of Everyday Things are incredibly valuable resources, but it's equally important that designers broaden their perspective across other learning disciplines to improve their thinking and capabilities. Also, technology, design thinking and even psychology are rapidly changing, so it's worth visiting new research and ideas as well as the classics. This is not a comprehensive list, but instead, an essential list that covers the key books UX/UI designers can read to get an edge in 2022.

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Refactoring UI

By adam wathan & steve schoger.

Jordan Hughes

This is a book written by a developer-designer duo, Adam Wathan & Steve Schoger . It’s written primarily for developers. Here's an example to explain what I mean. That being said, I think it should be required reading for every designer and everyone working on digital products. It's by far one of the most practical and valuable resources for any UI designer I've come across. Ever looked at your work-in-progress and thought, “I know this looks terrible, but I have no idea why”? The obvious answer you're missing is probably in this book.

Most UX/UI design books that claim to focus on "best practices" miss the mark by focusing purely on high-level principles, design process, colour theory, and user research. It's very rare that a book dives deep on the UI side of things and how to actually design digital products, with practical tips and real actual examples. Not just theory; no fluff; 100% signal; 0% noise. Because it's primarily written from a developer's point-of-view, it explains concepts clearly and suggests common sense tactics to make your design more user friendly.

Adam Wathan & Steve Schoger are very active on Twitter and within the design/dev community and Refactoring UI is a digital product success story in itself.

Our favourite quote from Refactoring UI

Whenever you stumble across a design you really like, ask yourself: "Did the designer do anything here that I never would have thought to do?"

Make your ideas look awesome, without relying on a designer. Learn how to design beautiful user interfaces by yourself using specific tactics explained from a developer's point-of-view.

User Friendly

User Friendly

By cliff kuang & robert fabricant.

Austen Allred

User Friendly is a timely call for a new design philosophy for the digital age to embrace UX and make computers more user friendly. Released in late 2019, there has been a lot of hype around this book—co-author Cliff Kuang is not only a seasoned UX designer, but an award-winning tech journalist and a fantastic writer. User Friendly is an essential and modern primer on how design is shaping our behaviour, thinking, and world.

More than a reference book for designers, User Friendly is told through an interesting historical lense that reads more like a novel. It maps the secret rules of the designed world and explains how these rules have changed society. It's a fascinating blend of research, professional design experience and common sense real-life examples that exposes the underappreciated history of design—it will change how you think and approach user experience design and the world around you.

Our favourite quote from User Friendly

You have to know why people behave as they do—and design around their foibles and limitations, rather than some ideal.

In User Friendly , Cliff Kuang and Robert Fabricant reveal the untold story of a paradigm that quietly rules our modern lives: the assumption that machines should anticipate what we need. Spanning over a century of sweeping changes, from women’s rights to the Great Depression to World War II to the rise of the digital era, this book unpacks the ways in which the world has been―and continues to be―remade according to the principles of the once-obscure discipline of user-experience design.

In this essential text, Kuang and Fabricant map the hidden rules of the designed world and shed light on how those rules have caused our world to change―an underappreciated but essential history that’s pieced together for the first time. Combining the expertise and insight of a leading journalist and a pioneering designer, User Friendly provides a definitive, thoughtful, and practical perspective on a topic that has rapidly gone from arcane to urgent to inescapable. In User Friendly , Kuang and Fabricant tell the whole story for the first time―and you’ll never interact with technology the same way again.


by Nir Eyal & Ryan Hoover

Ryan Hoover

When you reach for your phone, does your finger ever reach for Instagram or Twitter without you consciously meaning to? This is the power of habit-forming products. The world's most successful digital products, like smartphones, social media platforms, apps, websites, make us form these habits.

What made the iPhone the most profitable product in the world? Why does the average person check their smartphone is 110 times a day ? As of the fourth quarter of 2019, Facebook has almost 2.5 billion monthly active users . What is it about these products? According to Nir Eyal , it's because they make use form habits, wedge themselves into our lives, and offer variable rewards.

Nir Eyal is a behavioural design and consumer psychology expert with a focus on helping businesses change user behaviour and retain customers. Hooked is a distillation of his knowledge, after years of research and working with clients. It's a fascinating read and insight into why we do the things that we do. Eyal explores the 4-step framework that makes these products so successful, with practical insights to create user habits that stick.

“When it comes to driving engagement and building habits, Hooked is an excellent guide into the mind of the user.” — Andrew Chen , General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz

Our favourite quote from Hooked

Users who continually find value in a product are more likely to tell their friends about it.

How do successful companies create products people can’t put down? Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many more) by explaining the Hook Model—a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.

Hooked is based on Eyal’s years of research, consulting, and practical experience. He wrote the book he wished had been available to him as a start-up founder—not abstract theory, but a how-to guide for building better products. Hooked is written for product managers, designers, marketers, start-up founders, and anyone who seeks to understand how products influence our behavior.

Eyal provides readers with:

  • Practical insights to create user habits that stick.
  • Actionable steps for building products people love.
  • Fascinating examples from the iPhone to Twitter, Pinterest to the Bible App, and many other habit-forming products.

The War of Art

The War of Art

By steven pressfield.

Brian Koppelman

Steven Pressfield ’s The War of Art is the creatives equivalent of Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins . It's an ass-kicking manifesto on “breaking through blocks and winning our inner creative battles”. It's also one of the most recommended books on this site.

Pressfield took a radically different, no-bullshit approach to writing this book. It focuses on every creatives' arch-nemesis— The Resistance —and how this enemy can stop us from achieving anything if we let it.

"Why do so many people fail in their artistic endeavours and creative projects?" Pressfield asks. The answer: "Because each of us has to defeat an incredibly strong inner enemy."

More than just a self-help book to overcome procrastination, The War of Art is a call-to-arms on professionalism, artistic integrity and drive, whatever your field may be. It's essential reading for any artist, writer, UX designer or creative professional.

"Steven Pressfield has written the most important book I've ever read on creativity and why it doesn't happen. The resistance is the most profound force in the life of the artist, the writer and the leader, and Steve has given it a name and called it out." — Seth Godin , author of This is Marketing

Our favourite quote from The War of Art

Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul. What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece

Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself. Whether an artist, writer or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow

By daniel kahneman.

Bryan Johnson

Thinking, Fast and Slow is a book that has altered how I approach and think about problems in my life. It builds on the idea that we're Strangers to Ourselves and that we're governed by two completely separate brains; our fast thinking (automatic) brain and our slow thinking (conscious) brains. You'll be surprised which one has the wheel most of the time...

Thinking, Fast and Slow also reminds a bit of Nassim Nicholas Taleb ’s thinking in Antifragile . It dives into how the mechanisms of human thinking works, and how we're lured into poor judgement, hopeless memory and bad decisions by our fast-thinking systems. Thinking, Fast and Slow reveals when we can and cannot trust our intuitions . We can all benefit from a little more slow thinking.

One interesting insight is that Kahneman ends his books with a conclusion on the importance of improving our decision-making and the role that technology can play for that in the future. Ray Dalio comes to the same conclusion in his incredible book Principles .

If you're a marketer or UX designer, it's super insightful in helping to predict irrational user behaviour.

Our favourite quote from Thinking, Fast and Slow

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.

In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation―each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives―and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.

Design Is a Job

Design Is a Job

By mike monteiro.

Most UX/UI designers I've met didn't plan to be in this profession, they just kind of landed here on their creative path. I've met UX designers that used to be architects, marketers, bartenders and developers. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that design is a job; treat it that way. Design is a Job is a great resource for anyone wanting to get into design, or designers who want to understand how to treat design as a more serious career (not just something they enjoy doing). Monteiro calls it “a guide to making a living as a designer”.

Whatever type of design work you do, it exists in a space between human attitudes, perceptions and physical artefacts. Whether you're a design professional interested in transitioning to freelance work, running your own studio, or just improving your current approach to the craft and client/work relationships, there's good advice in this book for everyone.

Our favourite quote from Design Is a Job

Confidence doesn’t come from knowing you’re right—it comes from being okay with failing.

Co-founder of Mule Design and raconteur Mike Monteiro wants to help you do your job better. From contracts to selling design, from working with clients to working with each other, this brief book is packed with knowledge you can’t afford not to know.

Creative Selection

Creative Selection

By ken kocienda.

Keith Rabois

After Steve Jobs left Apple, the world wondered how the company would continue to make great products. Creative Selection by Ken Kocienda is the rare remarkable insider’s story that reveals how Jobs and the design team utilised a Darwinian approach to ideation and creativity. Apple's processes are worth studying—they've created some of the most profitable products of all time .

Creative Selection is a fascinating insight into the design thinking behind Apple's creative powerhouse. It will inspire you to think differently about your design process from the teams that changed the user experience of entire industries.

Our favourite quote from Creative Selection

Taste is developing a refined sense of judgment and finding the balance that produces a pleasing and integrated whole.

An insider's account of Apple's creative process during the golden years of Steve Jobs.

Hundreds of millions of people use Apple products every day; several thousand work on Apple's campus in Cupertino, California; but only a handful sit at the drawing board. Creative Selection recounts the life of one of the few who worked behind the scenes, a highly-respected software engineer who worked in the final years of the Steve Jobs era―the Golden Age of Apple.

Ken Kocienda offers an inside look at Apple’s creative process. For fifteen years, he was on the ground floor of the company as a specialist, directly responsible for experimenting with novel user interface concepts and writing powerful, easy-to-use software for products including the iPhone, the iPad, and the Safari web browser. His stories explain the symbiotic relationship between software and product development for those who have never dreamed of programming a computer, and reveal what it was like to work on the cutting edge of technology at one of the world's most admired companies.

Kocienda shares moments of struggle and success, crisis and collaboration, illuminating each with lessons learned over his Apple career. He introduces the essential elements of innovation―inspiration, collaboration, craft, diligence, decisiveness, taste, and empathy―and uses these as a lens through which to understand productive work culture.

An insider's tale of creativity and innovation at Apple, Creative Selection shows readers how a small group of people developed an evolutionary design model, and how they used this methodology to make groundbreaking and intuitive software which countless millions use every day.

Start with Why

Start with Why

By simon sinek.

Robert Rodriguez

In 2009, Simon Sinek gave one of the most popular TED talks of all time title “ How Great Leaders Inspire Action ”. The simple concept presented in this talk ultimately led to Sinek's bestselling book, Start with Why , which explores how individuals can create sustainable change by actively inspiring others.

“Leadership is the ability to rally people not for a single event, but for years. In business, leadership means that customers will continue to support your company even when you slip up.” — Simon Sinek , Start with Why

Great leaders in any team can get things done and create sustainable change over long periods of time because they inspire others to reach their goals. This is a valuable trait to have in your career and life. If you're a great leader, you'll create loyal followers that will stick with you through difficult challenges.

Whether you're an entrepreneur, a designer creating products people use, or interested in learning why we do the things that we do, Start with Why is an invaluable read.

“The basis of this book is so important to anyone looking to increase their influence, profits or impact. People won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it. When you start with the why, everything else falls into place. This book is so impactful, I consider it required reading.” — Tony Robbins , author of Unshakeable .

Our favourite quote from Start with Why

There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.

The inspiring, life-changing bestseller by the author of LEADERS EAT LAST and TOGETHER IS BETTER.

In 2009, Simon Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, including more than 28 million who’ve watched his TED Talk based on START WITH WHY -- the third most popular TED video of all time.

Sinek starts with a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?

People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all started with WHY. They realized that people won't truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it.

START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way -- and it's the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.

Strangers to Ourselves

Strangers to Ourselves

By timothy d. wilson.

Malcolm Gladwell

How well do we really know ourselves? Turns out that the conscious mind is the tip of the iceberg when we're deciding how to act and behave.

We know very little about the brain, and most of the time, we can't decipher our most basic human motivation levers and decision-making models. Timothy D. Wilson is a Social Psychology Professor at the frontier of exploring the evolution of the idea of the unconscious.

Strangers to Ourselves really gets in the weeds here and will change the way you think about how you think. Drawing on years of psychology research, Wilson argues that our unconscious minds are much more capable of driving our behaviour than we previously imagined in Freudian or Behaviorist branches of psychology.

If you're a UX designer, marketer or entrepreneur, this book contains some invaluable insights into human psychology, one of the major components to be attentive to when crafting user experiences.

“[Wilson’s] book is what popular psychology ought to be (and rarely is): thoughtful, beautifully written, and full of unexpected insights.”— Malcolm Gladwell , author of Outliers

Our favourite quote from Strangers to Ourselves

Just as we possess a potent physical immune system that protects us from threats to our physical well-being, so do we possess a potent psychological immune system that protects us from threats to our psychological well-being. When it comes to maintaining a sense of well-being, each of us is the ultimate spin doctor.

"Know thyself," a precept as old as Socrates, is still good advice. But is introspection the best path to self-knowledge? What are we trying to discover, anyway? In an eye-opening tour of the unconscious, as contemporary psychological science has redefined it, Timothy D. Wilson introduces us to a hidden mental world of judgments, feelings, and motives that introspection may never show us.

This is not your psychoanalyst's unconscious. The adaptive unconscious that empirical psychology has revealed, and that Wilson describes, is much more than a repository of primitive drives and conflict-ridden memories. It is a set of pervasive, sophisticated mental processes that size up our worlds, set goals, and initiate action, all while we are consciously thinking about something else.

If we don't know ourselves―our potentials, feelings, or motives―it is most often, Wilson tells us, because we have developed a plausible story about ourselves that is out of touch with our adaptive unconscious. Citing evidence that too much introspection can actually do damage, Wilson makes the case for better ways of discovering our unconscious selves. If you want to know who you are or what you feel or what you're like, Wilson advises, pay attention to what you actually do and what other people think about you. Showing us an unconscious more powerful than Freud's, and even more pervasive in our daily life, Strangers to Ourselves marks a revolution in how we know ourselves.

Building a StoryBrand

Building a StoryBrand

By donald miller.

Ran Segall

Building a StoryBrand is one of those great books you'll find yourself re-referencing again and again, applying it to your business, design, and even personal branding. It will teach you to think of your customers as the main character in your story and how to talk about your brand so that they will listen. Because customers don't care about your story , they care about their own.

Knowing how to craft a compelling message and integrating that message into your product design and marketing is easier than you may think. Building a StoryBrand is efficiently packed with useful information and frameworks to help you create a story that will capture customer attention. An incredibly useful skill for a UX designer, copywriter, marketer or entrepreneur.

"[StoryBrand] was very impactful because I've started using this process for understanding and clarifying my brand story. It proved really, really valuable... I suggest you read this book." — Ran Segall , founder of Flux Academy

Our favourite quote from Building a StoryBrand

In every line of copy we write, we’re either serving the customer’s story or descending into confusion; we’re either making music or making noise.

New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller uses the seven universal elements of powerful stories to teach readers how to dramatically improve how they connect with customers and grow their businesses.

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides readers with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services. Building a StoryBrand does this by teaching readers the seven universal story points all humans respond to; the real reason customers make purchases; how to simplify a brand message so people understand it; and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media.

Whether you are the marketing director of a multibillion dollar company, the owner of a small business, a politician running for office, or the lead singer of a rock band, Building a StoryBrand will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers.

Made to Stick

Made to Stick

By chip & dan heath.

Brian Armstrong

Chip & Dan Heath research the "stickiness" of ideas. This is a concept that builds on Malcolm Gladwell 's The Tipping Point — why do some ideas stick in the mind, while others don't? In Made to Stick , you'll learn what makes some ideas more effective than others. Equally important, it provides insight into the real power of bad ideas and why they stick, despite being wrong. And how to avoid these traps.

Think of this book as a self-help book for your ideas. Chances are, if you've read this far, you have a lot of ideas and information swirling around in your head. It can be hard to pin them down and figure out what's good, and why they're good. Made to Stick will help you thin your ideas down to an essential few and pull them apart to decide what to focus on. Simplicity is the key.

Heaths' framework will help you as a designer to focus on the highest-impact ideas and to better communicate with your target audience. Invaluable skills when designing user experiences.

“It will join The Tipping Point and Built to Last as a must-read for business people.” — Guy Kawasaki , author of The Art of the Start 2.0

Our favourite quote from Made to Stick

The most basic way to get someone's attention is this: Break a pattern.


The instant classic about why some ideas thrive, why others die, and how to improve your idea’s chances—essential reading in the “fake news” era.

Mark Twain once observed, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus news stories circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas—entrepreneurs, teachers, politicians, and journalists—struggle to make them “stick.”

In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the human scale principle, using the Velcro Theory of Memory, and creating curiosity gaps. Along the way, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds—from the infamous “kidney theft ring” hoax to a coach’s lessons on sportsmanship to a vision for a new product at Sony—draw their power from the same six traits.

Made to Stick will transform the way you communicate. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures): the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of the Mother Teresa Effect; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice.

Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas—and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

Universal Principles of Design

Universal Principles of Design

By william lidwell.

Universal Principles of Design is an in-depth encyclopedia of design, user psychology and mental models. It's so broad that it's applicable across any discipline, making it a fantastic resource to broaden your design knowledge and understanding with just one book.

Even the best designers occasionally lose sight of the fundamental principles of design. Even though this design book was originally published in 2003 (a lifetime ago in the technology space), most of the principles and concepts applied in practice contained in this book are still relevant today.

Our favourite quote from Universal Principles of Design

Simplicity is achieved when everyone can easily understand and use the design, regardless of experience, literacy, or concentration level.

Whether a marketing campaign or a museum exhibit, a video game or a complex control system, the design we see is the culmination of many concepts and practices brought together from a variety of disciplines. Because no one can be an expert on everything, designers have always had to scramble to find the information and know-how required to make a design work - until now. ‍

Universal Principles of Design is the first cross-disciplinary reference of design. Richly illustrated and easy to navigate, this book pairs clear explanations of the design concepts featured with visual examples of those concepts applied in practice. From the 80/20 rule to chunking, from baby-face bias to Ockham's razor, and from self-similarity to storytelling, 100 design concepts are defined and illustrated for readers to expand their knowledge.

This landmark reference will become the standard for designers, engineers, architects, and students who seek to broaden and improve their design expertise.

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

By susan weinschenk.

Jan Losert

When we design, we solicit responses from people. We want them to do something. ‍ 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People is a solid design-psychology hybrid book that teaches you how to be more effective at guiding these responses.

Tackling some central UX design thinking questions such as " what grabs and holds attention on a page or screen? " and " how do you motivate people to continue on to the next step? ", Susan Weinschenk guides you through practical steps to increase the effectiveness, conversion rates, and usability of your UX design.

Like many good UX books, 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People is not written to be read continuously. Instead, it will prove far more valuable over time as you reference it and build on your foundational knowledge of design thinking and UX design knowledge.

Our favourite quote from 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

People are very willing to click multiple times. In fact, they won’t even notice they’re clicking if they’re getting the right amount of information at each click to keep them going down the path. Think progressive disclosure; don’t count clicks.

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.

Learn to increase the effectiveness, conversion rates, and usability of your own design projects by finding the answers to questions such as:

  • What grabs and holds attention on a page or screen?
  • What makes memories stick?
  • What is more important, peripheral or central vision?
  • How can you predict the types of errors that people will make?
  • What is the limit to someone's social circle?
  • How do you motivate people to continue on to (the next step?
  • What line length for text is best?
  • Are some fonts better than others?

These are just a few of the questions that the book answers in its deep-dive exploration of what makes people tick.

The Visual History of Type

The Visual History of Type

By paul mcneil.

Jeremiah Shoaf

I've always felt that good typography is the most undervalued and underappreciated elements in modern product design. Text is never just text. It often goes unnoticed in good design, but good type design can elicit emotion, guide attention and even create a typographical identity.

The designers at Mailchimp valued to the power of typography and typographical identity in their recent rebrand when they selected an old-style serif, Cooper Light , as their primary typeface. Cooper Light was originally released over 100 years ago, and the slightly ironic choice (for a tech company) has become synonymous with Mailchimp 's brand in just a couple of years.

Bad typography, by contrast, sticks out. Even to non-design oriented folks, bad typography is easy to spot, reflects badly on the brand and leads to a poor user experience.

Often (and I'm the first to admit I do this), designers fall back on trends rather than carefully considering the best typography for a design. Partly, because good typography skills are difficult to master. Paired with great copywriting , understanding the basics of effective typography is a powerful force multiplier to help you stand out and improve user experiences.

The Visual History of Type traces the evolution of typeface design over the last 200 years. As much a beautifully-design coffee table as an exhaustive and thorough history of type, The Visual History of Type is a great primer for levelling up on your typography knowledge.

"This is my favorite type book that I own—yes, even more so than Bringhurst. It’s not about typography; it’s about typefaces. But it is a monumental work that showcases the evolution of type from the days of Gutenberg to modern times, and reading it will expose you to the entire history of typography and give you a new perspective on graphic design." — Jeremiah Shoaf , founder of Typewolf

If you're interested in a more practical book dedicated to improving your web design typography, an honourable mention goes to Better Web Typography for a Better Web by Matej Latin which I highly recommend!

Our favourite quote from The Visual History of Type

The Visual History of Type is a comprehensive, detailed survey of the major typefaces produced since the advent of printing with movable type in the mid–fifteenth century to the present day. Arranged chronologically to provide context, more than 320 typefaces are displayed in the form of their original type specimens or earliest printing. Each entry is supported by a brief history and description of key characteristics of the typeface.

This book will be the definitive publication in its field, appealing to graphic designers, educators, historians and design students. It will also be a significant resource for professional type designers and students of type.


by Jake Knapp

Andy Budd

This book has been recommended on many UX design book lists before, and for good reason. Jake Knapp wrote Sprint as a distillation of his insights from 100+ design sprints run with Google Ventures .

It's a working methodology that helps UX designers, product manager and teams solve huge problems in just five days. Think of it as old-school design thinking on crack. When Sprint was published in 2016, it overhauled many dated project management processes in lieu of Google's faster, smarter approach. Knapp 's goal with this book is to help you design and build better products faster.

“Sprint offers a transformative formula for testing ideas that works whether you’re at a startup or a large organization. Within five days, you’ll move from idea to prototype to decision, saving you and your team countless hours and countless dollars. A must read for entrepreneurs of all stripes.” — Eric Ries , author of The Lean Startup

Our favourite quote from Sprint

It’s what work should be about—not wasting time in endless meetings, then seeking camaraderie in a team-building event at a bowling alley—but working together to build something that matters to real people. This is the best use of your time. This is a sprint.

From three design partners at Google Ventures, a unique five-day process for solving tough problems using design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers.

The startups that Google Ventures invest in face big questions every day: Where’s the most important place to focus your effort, and how do you start? What will your ideas look like in real life? How many meetings and discussions does it take before you can be sure you have the right solution to a problem? Business owners and investors want their companies and the people who lead them to be equipped to answer these questions—and quickly. And now there’s a sure-fire way to solve their problems and test solutions: the sprint.

While working at Google, designer Jake Knapp created a unique problem-solving method that he coined a “design sprint”—a five-day process to help companies answer crucial questions. His ‘sprints’ were used on everything from Google Search to Chrome to Google X. When he moved to Google Ventures, he joined Braden Kowitz and John Zeratsky, both designers and partners there who worked on products like YouTube and Gmail. Together Knapp, Zeratsky, and Kowitz have run over 100 sprints with their portfolio companies. They’ve seen firsthand how sprints can overcome challenges in all kinds of companies: healthcare, fitness, finance, retailers, and more.

A practical guide to answering business questions, Sprint is a book for groups of any size, from small startups to Fortune 100s, from teachers to non-profits. It’s for anyone with a big opportunity, problem, or idea who needs to get answers today.

Continue reading


A Court of Thorns and Roses

The best gifts for bookworms 2022.

best books for ux research

Featured books

best books for ux research

The Score Takes Care of Itself

The Beginning of Infinity

The Beginning of Infinity

David deutsch.

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

Chris hadfield.

"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"

"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Richard p. feynman.


Michael Crichton

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup

The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense

The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense

Rory sutherland.

Finding Ultra

Finding Ultra

How to Change Your Mind

How to Change Your Mind

Michael pollan.

On the Shortness of Life

On the Shortness of Life

Lucius seneca.

Man's Search for Meaning

Man's Search for Meaning

Viktor e. frankl.

Growth Hacker Marketing

Growth Hacker Marketing

Ryan holiday.

Tough Jews

Siddhartha Mukherjee

Eating Animals

Eating Animals

Jonathan safran foer, featured people, ryan hoover.

Terrance McArthur

Terrance McArthur

Marc Andreessen

Marc Andreessen

Andrew chen.

Pedro Pascal

Pedro Pascal

Mr. Beast

Arianna Huffington

Howard Marks

Howard Marks

 Morgan Housel

Morgan Housel

Girish Mathrubootham

Girish Mathrubootham

Michael Pollan

Gary Vaynerchuk

David Perell

David Perell

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9 UX Research Books for Designing Better Products

best books for ux research

In this blog post you will find:

  • “User Research: Improve Product and Service Design and Enhance your UX Research” by Stephanie Marsh

“The Handbook of Usability Testing” by Jeffrey Rubin and Dana Chisnell

“the design of everyday things” by don norman, “just enough research” by erika hall, “mental models: aligning design strategy with human behavior” by indi young, “observing the user experience” by elizabeth goodman, mike kuniavsky, and andrea moed, “quantifying the user experience” by jeff sauro and james lewis, “interviewing users” by steve portigal, “it’s our research” by tomer sharon.

  • How Can You Start With UX Research?
  • What Are The Latest Trends In UX Research?

In making great products and keeping users happy, there’s one golden rule: never stop learning. Enter: UX research books!

User expectations shift as rapidly as the technological landscape, therefore staying ahead of the curve is crucial. Keeping your UX research skills sharp is important, and equipping yourself with the knowledge of the best UX research books is your ticket to success. 

In this article, we’ll give you 9 essential UX research books that you can pick up today to start designing better products tomorrow. So, cozy up in your favorite spot and dive into this curated list of UX research books that will transform you from UX enthusiast to UX guru faster than you can say “click here.”

“User Research: Improve Product and Service Design and Enhance Your UX Research” by Stephanie Marsh

344 Pages / 4,6 Rating / $32.99 / Get the book

1st UX Research book: User Research by Stephanie Marsh

Stephanie Marsh, a seasoned expert in the field, shares her wealth of experience in this comprehensive UX research book. It covers a wide range of topics essential to understanding user behavior and gathering meaningful insights. From conducting user interviews and surveys to analyzing data and creating personas, Stephanie breaks down complex concepts into digestible chunks, making them accessible to readers of all backgrounds.

One of the standout features of the book is its practical approach. Real-world examples and case studies are used throughout to illustrate how principles are applied in various contexts.

384 Pages / 4,5 Rating / $29.31 / Get the book

"The Handbook of Usability Testing" by Jeffrey Rubin and Dana Chisnell

With Jeffrey Rubin’s extensive experience in usability testing and Dana Chisnell’s expertise in UX research, this book offers a comprehensive overview of the principles and practices of usability testing.

Readers will find a wealth of valuable information within its pages, ranging from planning and conducting usability tests to analyzing results and implementing findings. The authors break down complex concepts into clear, actionable steps, making it easy for readers to follow along and apply the techniques in their own projects.

Numerous real-world examples are provided, as well as case studies, templates, models, and more, illustrating how usability testing can be applied in different scenarios and industries.

368 Pages / 4,6 Rating / $13.49 / Get the book

"The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman

Don Norman’s classic work delves into the principles of intuitive design, arguing that products should be designed with the user’s needs and limitations in mind. It’s a call to action for creating user-friendly and enjoyable interfaces. It is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the principles of good design.

In this book, Norman explores the fundamental concepts of usability and user-centered design, offering practical insights into how to create products that are intuitive and user-friendly. With clear examples and straightforward explanations, he demonstrates how design impacts our daily interactions and experiences.

Whether you’re in design, UX research, engineering, or simply curious about the world around you, “The Design of Everyday Things” is a valuable resource that will change the way you think about the objects you encounter every day.

198 Pages / 5,0 Rating / $37.95 / Get the book

"Just Enough Research" by Erika Hall

Erika Hall’s book advocates for ‘just enough’ research in the design process. Written in a clear and accessible style, Hall offers practical advice on how to conduct effective UX research without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.

She emphasizes the importance of conducting research that is focused and purposeful, providing readers with just enough information to make informed decisions. From identifying UX research goals to choosing the right methods, Hall covers all the essentials in a concise and easy-to-understand manner.

“Just Enough Research” is a valuable UX research book that will help you navigate the complexities of research and make meaningful contributions to your projects.

299 Pages / 4,3 Rating / $47.01 / Get the book

“Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior” by Indi Young

“Mental Models” is a definitive guide to understanding the relationship between design strategy and human behavior. Young, who co-founded the pioneering UX research agency Adaptive Path (acquired by Capital One in 2014), offers valuable insights into how mental models shape our perceptions and interactions with the world around us.

In this book, you will discover practical techniques for uncovering and leveraging mental models to inform design decisions. The author’s approach is both accessible and insightful, providing readers with the tools they need to create more intuitive and user-centered designs.

One of the highlights of “Mental Models” is its emphasis on empathy and understanding. Young encourages designers to step into the shoes of their users, gaining deeper insights into their motivations and behaviors. By aligning design strategy with human behavior, designers can create more meaningful experiences for their users.

601 Pages / 4,3 Rating / $44.90 / Get the book

"Observing the User Experience" by Elizabeth Goodman, Mike Kuniavsky, and Andrea Moed

With its 601 pages, “Observing the User Experience” offers an extensive exploration of UX research methodologies, techniques, and best practices. It covers every aspect of the process, from planning and conducting studies to analyzing data and synthesizing findings. You will find detailed discussions on various UX research methods, including interviews, surveys, usability testing, and ethnographic research. The book also delves into topics such as user personas, journey mapping, and interaction design, providing a comprehensive overview of the field.

While “Observing the User Experience” is accessible to readers of all levels, it also offers advanced insights and techniques for experienced practitioners. The authors draw from their extensive experience in the field to provide nuanced discussions on topics such as research design, data analysis, and synthesis. Advanced concepts, such as affinity diagramming, contextual inquiry, and mental models, are explored in depth as well.

Despite its length and depth, this book remains highly practical and actionable. The authors provide clear, step-by-step instructions for conducting UX research, accompanied by real-world examples and case studies. Whether you’re a novice researcher or a seasoned professional, you’ll find plenty of value in this book.

350 Pages / 4,5 Rating / $42.32 / Get the book

"Quantifying the User Experience" by Jeff Sauro and James Lewis

For those interested in the quantitative side of UX research, this book provides a practical guide to using statistics to solve problems. It’s ideal for usability professionals looking to measure the impact of their work. Readers will gain insight into statistical concepts such as sample size calculations, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing, empowering them to conduct rigorous and scientifically valid UX research studies.

Despite its focus on statistical analysis, “Quantifying the User Experience” remains highly practical and accessible to readers of all levels. The authors provide clear explanations of statistical concepts, accompanied by real-world examples and case studies. You will learn how to apply statistical techniques to analyze user data, interpret findings, and make data-driven decisions to improve the user experience of your products.

176 Pages / 4,4 Rating / $28.49 / Get the book

"Interviewing Users" by Steve Portigal

Steve Portigal’s book is a masterclass in interviewing users, and  a must-read for anyone looking to hone their skills. Portigal provides practical guidance and valuable insights gleaned from his extensive experience as a researcher.  

What sets this UX research book apart is its emphasis on empathy and understanding. Portigal stresses the importance of building rapport with interviewees, creating a safe space for open dialogue, and listening attentively to users’ stories and experiences. Through real-world examples, you will learn how to ask meaningful questions that don’t miss the mark.

288 Pages / 4,4 Rating / $31.96 / Get the book

9th UX Research book: "It’s Our Research" by Tomer Sharon

“It’s Our Research” by Tomer Sharon emphasizes the importance of gaining stakeholder buy-in. The main point of the book is about cultivating a user-centered culture throughout the organization, one where stakeholders from various departments actively participate in and value UX research activities.

Sharon provides practical strategies and insights on how to effectively communicate the value of UX research to stakeholders, demonstrating its impact on product success and customer satisfaction. By aligning user research goals with organizational objectives, Sharon guides readers on how to garner support and involvement at all levels.

Moreover, “It’s Our Research” offers actionable advice on integrating user research into existing workflows and processes within organizations. The author emphasizes the collaborative nature of UX research, encouraging cross-functional teams to work together.

How can you start with UX research?

The selection of UX research books mentioned above lays a strong foundation for further exploration. In addition, reads like “ Don’t Make Me Think ” by Steve Krug and “ Thinking, Fast and Slow ” by Daniel Kahneman are essential additions to any bookshelf. These UX research books offer a solid introduction to UX principles.

It’s important to recognize that enhancing UX, whether for your own product or within a company, is a slow and steady journey involving multiple stakeholders. Beginning with a solid grasp of foundational knowledge, including familiarizing yourself with the jargon, techniques, and concepts, is crucial. 

Additional resources are available through our blog . If you would like to learn more about UX benchmarking as well, consider joining our upcoming webinar on the ULX® Benchmarking Score .

What are the latest trends in UX research?

If you’re feeling unsure about where to start your UX research journey and want to dive into the latest trends straight away, there are a few key areas you can explore.

  • Usability Remote Testing
  • AI Analytics
  • Inclusive Design

First, Usability Remote Testing. It allows you to gather feedback from users without being in the same location. Platforms like Userlytics make this process easy and accessible, and have surged in popularity over the years.

Next, look into AI-driven Analytics, which can help you analyze large amounts of data quickly and efficiently. Userlytics’ AI UX Analysis capabilities makes the whole process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting large quantities of video content in an efficient and streamlined manner.

Finally, Inclusive Design is definitely a field you should learn about. It is about ensuring that your products are usable and accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities or backgrounds. If you would like to know more about Inclusive Design, consider listening to this interview of Userlytics’ UX Whisperers Podcast.

By focusing on these areas, as well as strengthening your foundational knowledge with the aforementioned UX research books, you can stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving field of UX research!

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Didn’t find what you were searching for.

What Are The Gestalt Principles? The Gestalt Principles, a theory developed in the early 20th century by German psychologists, focuses on our ability to perceive overall patterns and designs. Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, and Kurt Koffka, the founding figures, proposed that “the whole is other than the sum of its parts.” This fundamental concept has…  Read More » How to Use Gestalt Principles for Better UX

Let’s say you’re developing a new website or mobile app. The exciting part of developing a visual identity is upon you and you’re hesitating between different fonts, colors, typographies, placements of buttons, etc. You choose the one that appears the coolest to you. After all, it’s your website or app, right? This is where the…  Read More » What Is Preference Testing And How to Do It Right?

The effectiveness of your UX research is deeply influenced by the relevance of your user testing participants. Imagine creating a blockbuster movie where the ensemble of actors, the narrative, and the screenplay must harmonize perfectly to craft something exceptionally good. In UX research, recruiting participants for a study who mirror your target audience is essential…  Read More » 9 Tips On How To Recruit Participants For A UX Study

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The 15 Absolute Best UX/UI Design Books in 2024

best books for ux research

In the era of monster-length blog posts, I believe there’s still space for books about UX design. Because investing in a valuable book is the kind of gesture that’ll keep you committed and motivated.

The emphasis here is on valuable. I think most of us can agree that many books in our realm are just manicured blog posts. No wonder we are discouraged from dropping money on them.

In this article, I’ll give you an honest review of 15 books from various product-related fields to help you choose the ones worth your time and money. I’ve sorted them into 4 categories to help you skim:

  • General UX/UI books
  • UX research and testing
  • Design/product lead books
  • Product design infotainment
  • UX design reference books

1. General UX/UI books

Books about the psychology of user experience and product strategy. Whether you’re an aspiring designer, freelancer, or seasoned professional looking to accelerate your career, I have something for you in this category.

Refactoring UI

Authors: adam wathan, steve schoger.

best books for ux research

  • Highlights: the entire book. No BS, great examples, concise writing
  • Recommendation: UX designers who want to be good at UI

“Refactoring UI” is a single-day read, but not because it’s superficial. Quite the opposite.

Wathan and Schoger pack as much information about UX and UI design into 252 pages as possible. They avoid endless buildups and repetition. There’s not even an intro boasting about the authors’ background and achievements. “Refactoring UI” is filled with practical, valuable, and actionable information from the first page.

The structure of the book is on point. The first section provides an overview of the key design principles and ideas. Then, the authors dive into the nitty-gritty of design, using the best examples out of any product design book ever.

The chapters cover every topic on designing UI with UX best practices in mind. That being said, if you’re UX oriented, you will have to support this book with another one about UX principles.

My favorite chapters are the one about hierarchy (“Hierarchy is Everything,” indeed) and the one about Designing Text. But that’s just personal preference. The rest of the book is just as good and informative.

Besides the content, the other reason I am so enthusiastic about “Refactoring UI” is that Wathan and Schoger respected my time. They could’ve inflated this into a 400-page book to make it feel more, as many authors do. Yet, they kept it tight and packed with value.

My only qualm is that this book’s only available in PDF , and it has a hefty $99 price tag. So, before buying, I’d recommend you check out the two free chapters available through the book’s official website. If you like the style and content, you’ll enjoy the rest of the book, so if you can afford it, go for it!

Laws of UX: Design Principles for Persuasive and Ethical Products

Author: jon yablonski.

best books for ux research

  • Highlight: 10 clearcut UX laws based on solid references
  • Recommendation: UXers interested in relevant psychological concepts

“Laws of UX” provides an in-depth examination of the relationship between psychology and user experience design. Yablonski presents ten principles – or laws – sourced from his behavioral economics studies and his own research into user behavior.

These laws are condensed and snappy descriptions of lingering design concepts, like the peak-end rule, Miller’s law, and Von Restorff Effect. Now, they might sound very fancy, but I found all of them easy to grasp. On top of the 10 laws, Yablonski also explores the ethical considerations we should keep in mind when applying these principles.

Yablonksi gives clear explanations and examples for each law. I didn’t feel like he was wasting my time by repeating the same things. There’s not much fluff in this book, evidenced by its length.

Overall, “Laws of UX” is a well-researched book on psychological concepts in UX. It makes everything easy to understand, and the ideas can be applied immediately.

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People

Author: susan m. weinschenk.

best books for ux research

  • Highlight: well-supported facts about user behavior presented in a fantastic format
  • Recommendation: designers of all levels

This book delivers on the promise in its title. Weinschenk presents 100 facts about user behavior, categorized into clear-cut chapters that explore human behavior.

What sets this book apart from similar books is the practicality of its advice. At the end of each section, a box of takeaways provides concrete, actionable tips for applying the principles discussed in the section.

The writing style and the ideas presented feel accessible. Weinschenk opens each chapter with a story demonstrating the topic and cites numerous studies. This reassured me that I’m consuming serious information and not just the musings of a random designer.

I’d argue that many of the ideas in this book are common sense. Still, the author presents them from a new or insightful perspective that even experienced designers may not have considered. Also, sometimes you just need to hear common sense ideas laid out in an organized fashion to keep them in your awareness.

Overall, “100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People” is a valuable resource for designers of all levels, providing practical advice and interesting insights into the design field. I just wish they’d update the visual examples.

Design Is a Job

Author: mike monteiro.

best books for ux research

  • Highlight: the business of design for freelance and in-house designers
  • Recommendation: freelance UX designers

Most people who read this book say they wish they had read it earlier. And I agree. “Design Is a Job” is a very short book in which Monteiro shares advice that other designers or teachers are too afraid to touch on. He talks freely about money, handling clients, and so on.

The book has many autobiographical elements and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. It’s written in a conversational style with fantastic flow. Combined with shortness, this makes for an easy and fun read.

What many senior designers have over juniors is the confidence that stems from experience. However, this book is like a cheat. Monteiro’s advice will build your confidence in your craft and make you aware of your value as a designer.

I think you should pick this book up. It takes only a few hours to read, but it’ll shape your outlook and serve you throughout your career, especially if you’re a freelance UX designer .

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Author: nir eyal.

best books for ux research

  • Highlight: a clean-cut model for building addictive products
  • Recommendation: reflecting on your own product or idea

This book highlights the importance of psychology in product design and presents a framework for building products that stick. Eyal calls this the Hook Model. The model has four elements: trigger, action, variable reward, and investment. These elements create a habit cycle that keeps your user engaged and returning for more. Eyal also highlights the importance of evaluation and testing to validate the model’s effectiveness.

In my opinion, this book’s best if you read it while reflecting on a specific product. Preferably a product you’re working on or a product idea you have. Combined with the exercises and examples, this approach makes it easier to internalize the content.

However, the book has two big issues: its length isn’t warranted, and the model cannot be applied to every product. Also, Eyal uses the same examples throughout (Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), which gets boring, especially since most belong to the same realm. It would’ve been nice to have a better variety of examples from a more diverse spectrum.

“Hooked” established an understanding of how to build and reinforce habits in certain products. Also, if you’re someone glued to their phone, it’ll make you more mindful of these products’ psychology without being preachy.

Image of a case study template generator

2. UX research and testing

This virtual shelf is for full-stack UX professionals and aspiring UX researchers.

Rocket Surgery Made Easy

Author: steve krug.

best books for ux research

  • Highlights: practical information in short-form
  • Recommendation: as a refresher or introduction to usability testing

If you’re experienced in usability testing , this book is a good refresher. If you’re just starting out, this book will give you the rundown on the basics. In my opinion, this is one of the easiest reads on this topic, with its 150 pages packed with practical information and tips. And Krug’s straightforward writing style makes it even more digestible.

I think this would make a good reference book for usability testing best practices. Though some of the tips might sound obvious (keep eye contact, get the participant to narrate, do not drop clues, etc.), it has helped me be more conscious of these things while attending tests and conducting interviews.

Also, while reading this book, I realized that many of the standard ceremonies that happen or are said during usability testing are also mentioned. Like the evergreen “we’re testing the product, not you” line. It made me wonder who the source is?

The weak point of “Rocket Surgery Made Easy” is its age. Today, much of the equipment and software recommended in this book has been replaced by usability testing software , like Useberry. Still, it’s a great, compact read on usability testing.

Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights

Author: steve portigal.

best books for ux research

  • Highlight: a compact introduction to interviewing users
  • Recommendation: UX designers who also do research

I was recommended this book while looking for something comprehensive to prepare for my first interviews. It was almost exactly what I was looking for. “Interviewing Users” gives you a nice overview of the process, from understanding the purpose and preparing to conduct interviews.

Portigal breaks down the process into well-structured, detailed chapters full of examples and helpful tips, like how to deal with difficult interviewees or slow conversations. The only part that’s lacking is data analysis. For that, you’ll need some extra reading.

The anecdotes and case studies in the book helped me see the big picture, providing a better understanding of the challenges I may face during an interview study. The “Interviewing Users” also gives great insider tips, like making a brain dump before interviews to clear your mind of preconceptions and expectations.

Despite the anecdotes, I’m inclined to consider this a reference book, an introduction to user interviews. You’ll find it redundant and boring if you’re a seasoned UX researcher . However, if you’re a designer who has to do interviews, this book is a one-stop and memorable resource.

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited

best books for ux research

Highlight: a weightless user testing and research framework

Recommendation: everyone working on digital products

I recommend this book to managers, designers, and developers alike, as it provides a common-sense outlook on usability. Krug uses a light and witty tone to communicate his message. Also, he brings plenty of entertaining examples to underline his points.

The book is filled with great advice on important topics like:

  • How can every stakeholder contribute to usability?
  • How to overcome roadblocks when opinions differ?
  • How to eliminate excuses for disregarding usability testing.

I like that Krug keeps it real throughout the entire book. He states facts that many professionals refuse to acknowledge. For example, that nobody reads the copy of a web page in real life, nor do they spend too much time reviewing its building blocks.

This is a highly recommended read. And, if you’re looking to expand your horizon, check out the footnotes for further readings.

3. Design/product lead books

This shelf is for you if you’re a senior designer looking to accelerate your career or a junior designer who wants to know more about how product design teams work.

Continuous Discovery Habits

Author: theresa torres.

best books for ux research

  • Highlight: the most compact book about modern teams
  • Recommendation: UX designers looking to advance their careers

Since user needs and desires are malleable, products need to adapt continuously. This book provides a great approach to prioritizing your users in a sensible fashion. If you’ve been working at a modern product company, you won’t find this book ground-breaking. However, I found it to be an extremely valuable read since it gives structure to lingering ideas and reinforces them. Consequently, it’ll make your efforts more focused and organized.

The book’s main idea is to keep in touch with your customer by building a regular interviewing practice. Torres gives actionable ideas on how you can achieve this. Then, you get a nice rundown on how this and other discovery processes should be interpreted, processed, applied, and evaluated.

I found “Continuous Discovery Habits” a smooth read since Torres doesn’t take unnecessary detours. The book doesn’t pretend to be something radical, either. It’s just tightly packed with relevant ideas and actionable tips.

Whether you’re looking for your first product design job or to accelerate your career into a more senior role, this book has something for you. Not because it’s revolutionary but because it presents solid knowledge without pretension.

Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

Author: marty cagan.

best books for ux research

  • Highlight: lots of easy-to-digest lists
  • Recommendation: designers aspiring to become product managers

“Inspired” by Marty Cagan is catering to product managers, but product designers can also learn from it, thanks to information about various product risks, discovery, and other techniques. This was a light read for me, but that could be because I have no desire to become a product manager, so I wasn’t really invested.

To Cagan’s credit, Inspired is well-structured, with 67 micro-chapters. I appreciated the heavy-handed use of lists because they make everything easier to grasp. It’s possible to read this book in one sitting, but you can also spread it out through a few days, especially if you take notes.

As for its content, “Inspired” is an overview of the product manager’s job with sound advice on how to be good at it. Unfortunately, Cagan starts with the usual – and at this point, extremely boring – examples. I wonder how hard it would be to collect stories from smaller-scale companies and individuals for some diversity in these books. As a content creator, I love Google, but I don’t need to read about them in every book of this genre.

Thankfully, the book picks up with good advice on building and scaling product teams, product strategy and vision, discovery, and transformation techniques. I found the two chapters about the loss of innovation and velocity most revealing, followed by the chapters about roadmaps and objectives.

This book is like a summary of hundreds of blog posts about various topics related to product management. The good news is that reading this book will save you from scouring the internet for reliable articles on these topics. Though at points I found it a bit too wordy, I think it’ll be inspiring to practicing and aspiring product managers alike.

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

Authors: jake knapp, john zeratsky, brad kowitz.

best books for ux research

  • Highlight: a complete introduction to a popular workshop method
  • Recommendation: add it to your resume

Jake Knapp’s book on design sprints is a staple on every design company’s bookshelf. Including ours. Since this book has been available for a while, I think most people already know or at least heard about its contents. So, it won’t sound as revolutionary to anyone anymore:

The Sprint is an intensive, five-day workshop method that can be applied to develop new ideas and solve product-related roadblocks using various techniques, like storyboarding and prototyping. The focus is on being productive and making decisions.

Even if you already read about it in Medium articles, “Sprint” is a worthwhile read, especially if you’re an aspiring design lead or new to the startup environment.

Let’s be honest: many companies and teams will never do 5-day sprints. Whether that’s good or not is not for us to judge. But, even if you know that your company will never do one, some of the key concepts in this book can be applied to your own ideation sessions, goal setting, and even regular meetings, like rapid sketching, time-boxing, deep focus, and so on.

The biggest problem with this book is that it could be much-MUCH shorter. Otherwise, it’s still relevant and a staple in the product design community.

4. Product design infotainment

For those of you who want something UX-related for entertainment.

User Friendly: How the Hidden Rules of Design Are Changing the Way We Live, Work, and Play

Authors: cliff kuang, robert fabricant.

best books for ux research

  • Highlights: the history of UX design in infotainment format
  • Recommendation: any designer and non-designer 

In “User Friendly”, Kuang and Fabricant set out to cover the evolution of user-friendliness and its impact on our lives. I find that this book serves two purposes. The first is to tell the history of user-friendliness in a serious yet engaging fashion. The second is to enrich and deepen our thinking about design. So, this is not a how-to book about skills and UX processes.

I was particularly astounded by how the user-friendliness of equipment came to prominence only recently and how technology is becoming simpler and simpler until it becomes invisible. Also, the authors make many revelations about the influence of industrial design on interface design, which is a perspective that’s usually not highlighted much.

There are a few points where the book becomes a bit preachy, especially around the discussions of social media and tech companies. Otherwise, this is an easy and short read from the infotainment genre. However, “User Friendly” is not a must-read by any means. Still, like practitioners of various artistic fields, I believe UX designers can also learn a lot from their history.

The Design of Everyday Things

Author: don norman.

best books for ux research

  • Highlight: shaping your outlook as a designer
  • Recommendation: keep your creative energy flowing

Though I read it years ago, I still remember a great deal of “The Design of Everyday Things.” This book reveals the creative problem-solving and inventiveness behind the most (seemingly) simple objects, like doors, stoves, and answering machines. I think this book is a champion in the infotainment category.

Norman takes a deep dive into various aspects of design, such as ergonomics, psychology, and research, showing how these disciplines intertwine to create an aesthetically pleasing product that is intuitive and popular with the masses.

The book also looks at the potential of Big Data and AI to shake up product design. It is an eye-opening read that made me take a second look at the things I use daily and appreciate the effort that went into designing them.

Whether you’re a designer or not, this book is a great way to gain a new understanding and appreciation for the design of everyday objects.

5. UX design reference books

Use these books to build your professional vocabulary and your understanding of the product design process.

Designing Interfaces

Author: jennifer tidwell.

best books for ux research

  • Highlights: the one-stop shop for UX/UI terminology
  • Recommendation: aspiring UX/UI designers

“Designing Interfaces” is a reference book on UX/UI design. In around 500 pages, Tidwell does a great job of explaining common product design patterns and design terminology.

Though written in 2005, I found that most principles in this book are relevant to this day. Also, Tidwell uses plenty of example screenshots to make her points more comprehensible. Just be prepared that some of the screenshots are a real throwback.

I skimmed this book but based on my impressions, it’s a concise overview of all important UX concepts. You’ll learn about things like midstream changes, deferred choices, satisficing, incremental construction, microbreaks, spatial memory, and so on. The biggest benefit of reading this book is that it will help you communicate more professionally.

The Elements of User Experience

Author: jesse james.

best books for ux research

Highlight: a simplified, 5-plane framework to UX design

Recommendation:  as an introduction to product design and strategy

James takes a holistic approach to user experience in this book and builds a vocabulary of the elements involved. His approach is based on 5 planes:

  • Skeleton, and

These planes cover both the abstract and concrete aspects of user experience design. They also illustrate how a UX project is structured. Each plane is based on the decisions made on the plane below while influencing the planes above.

I like that James explains why bad web design is bad and offers an approach to creating user-friendly websites. Just keep in mind that this is not a how-to book. It’ll give you the perspective and insights to figure things out on your own.

“The Elements of User Experience” also covers the general terminology of UX design and the relationship between different terms. So, this book can be a handy reference to keep at your desk. Not life-changing, just solid.

How to advance your career with UX design books?

It’s a common struggle for UX designers to fill the About page of their portfolio with adequate content. This is where your reading list will come in handy. I suggest you write three 4-5 sentence reviews about your favorite UX-related books. This will signal to design leads that you invest time and effort into your craft. Here’s a great structure to include your product design reading list in your portfolio.

  • Author’s name
  • Was it a recommendation? Who recommended it and why?
  • Did you read about it elsewhere? Why did it catch your attention?
  • Did you learn something new? What?
  • Did it widen your perspective? In what way?
  • Did it boost your skills? Which skills and how?
  • Has it changed your design process? In what way?
  • Has it contributed to any of your projects? How?

Answer 3-4 of these questions, and you’ll have an engaging book section on your About page. If you don’t want to spend hours on designing your about page, try the best UX portfolio builder: UXfolio . With UXfolio’s stunning templates, you won’t procrastinate with pixel pushing, so you can focus on what really matters in a portfolio, which is content.


An asiring UX designer sitting next to some plants, reading a book

The Best 11 UX Design Books for Designers and Enthusiasts

Careerfoundry blog contributor Florence Collins

For all of you budding UX designers, or for those of you simply interested in finding out exactly what UX is, we’ve put together our list of the 11 very best books on UX design.

Recommended by our in-house designers Dee and Jeff, as well as the founders of award-winning design agency AJ&Smart , these books not only explore design, but also success, innovation, and life.

Select any of the books from the list below to jump straight to it.

  • The Design Of Everyday Things
  • Don’t Make Me Think
  • Thinking, Fast And Slow
  • The Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less
  • Designing Visual Interfaces: Communication Oriented Techniques
  • Creative Confidence
  • Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
  • The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

To learn more about UX design principles and practices, take a look at our fully-mentored UX Design Program , which comes complete with a job guarantee on completion (that’s how good it is!).

But for now, let’s check out those UX books!

1. The Design of Everyday Things (Don Norman)

This book is very commonly found on designers’ bookshelves, and for good reason. It covers the fundamentals of what design is, why design is important, why some things just feel uncomfortable and others feel delightful to use.

One of the great examples in the book is the ‘Norman door’—that awkward moment of pulling a door instead of pushing it—which is usually the result of bad design. It’s an all-time classic that was originally published in 1982 and has since undergone many revisions to bring it up-to-date.

2. Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (Steve Krug)

One of the biggest themes explored in this go-to resource for usability is how people read on the web, and how they navigate sites. He draws some very interesting comparisons between this online behaviour and behavior in real-life.

A key takeaway is that not everyone is the same and you have to design for different behaviors – like in real life. It’s a quick read and as the author Krug said, it’s designed to be read in one plane ride so no excuses!

3.  Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)

While it’s not strictly a design book, Daniel Kahneman explores in depth how quickfire vs considered decision-making determines how people behave in different situations.

The book can help you reconsider your approach to user research and has insights on how to have better conversations. Some of the ideas in the book are also valuable to keep in mind when designing products.

4. Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience (Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden)

This book helps you to think about your role within a company, and company strategy. It explores the fact that key decision-making should happen through user research and testing, rather than sat around in a board meeting.

While difficult to adopt for companies, this UX-led approach is becoming crucial in order to survive. Gothelf also explains how to do projects collaboratively, and focus on solving user problems rather than adding new features. It’s a chunky book, so we recommend taking notes!

5. The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (Barry Schwartz)

Another great book that focuses on psychology and human behavior, it helps you realize that having more choice doesn’t bring a feeling of freedom. In fact, having too many options can make us overwhelmed, doubtful, afraid of regret, and so on – something valuable to take into account when you’re designing.

6. Designing Visual Interfaces: Communication Oriented Techniques (Kevin Mullet)

Though it’s from 1995, and it’s slightly more focused on designing interfaces, the examples are amazing, e.g. remember Windows 95? To some extent, being so dated makes the examples easier to understand, and many of the same principles still apply today. Its unique strength is showing side by side examples of good interface design versus bad interface design.

The next five recommendations come from Jonathan Courtney and Michael Smart, founders of the Berlin-based design agency AJ&Smart.

7. Sprint (Jake Knapp)

This one’s simple to summarize—it’s a step-by-step guide to building awesome products really fast.

8. Rework (Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson)

With the motto “Change the way you work forever” this book offers amazing advice for running a business or running a team, but it can also be very effectively applied to building products.

9. Creative Confidence (Tom Kelley and David Kelley)

Written by the inventors of design thinking, Tom Kelley and David Kelley, this book encourages really trying to bring your customer on your journey with you. It explores the notion of building empathy your relationships with all ‘customers’, be it a user, a client, or your employer.

10. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (Tim Ferriss)

This book summarizes some of the best tactics and routines from guests on Tim’s podcast. If you want little snippets of wisdom; new ways to approach work and life, then this book is perfect. It’s a great coffee table (or bathroom) read, but AJ&Smart founder Jonathan recommends treating like a normal book and powering through from cover to cover.

11. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (Steven Pressfield)

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.” This quote from the first chapter gives a good insight into what this last book is about. It’s highly recommended if you’re struggling with motivation and procrastination!

best books for ux research

📚 My Selection of the Best Books on UX Research, UX Design, Mobile, Accessibility & more

I get asked quite often for book recommendations on different design related topics. I finally found a little bit of time to go through my list of ebooks and paper books. Those are the books written in English I read and can truly recommend . (there’s a few more books in on the French version of this list). I wrote a small review for each of those.

Note that I still haven’t read half of the books I bought, so stay tuned, this list will be updated often. Also, yes this article contains affiliate links on amazon but there are options to buy from other sellers when possible, so, up to you.

C urrently reading: Disruptive Research , Better Onboarding , Nudge

** Last updated: July 2023 **

I ordered the list in different categories to help you go through it:

Understanding & selling User eXperience

Usability & ux research specific methods, ux design & psychology, information architecture & content strategy.

  • Design ethics and creativity

UI & Web Design practical guide

Design methods, workflows & collaboration, mobile, touch & responsive, accessibility, business, collaboration & strategy.

best books for ux research

Customers Know You Suck – Debbie Levitt

Full title is “Customers Know You Suck: Actionable CX Strategies to Better Understand, Attract, and Retain Customers”. This is a manual (with miro templates) to help you improve customer centricity and sell UX research to your stakeholders, but also conduct user research. Debbie also adresses a couple of myths agile and UX, and aspirologies (methods that look like they can help but hurt the profession). There are a lot of super interesting interviews from UX designers, researchers and strategists in the field. And, chapter 22 is an interview of me, talking about interprise UX, hahaha. Still, I read the rest too, highly recommend it.

Where to find it: Amazon , Debbie Levitt’s Site

Just Enough Research – Erika Hall

A nice introduction to different methods of user research , from the basics to process, competitive research, evaluative research, etc. She also added a chapter on surveys in the second edition. Like most A Book Apart books, a lot of information is packed in this one. You will want to keep it close to your desk for future reference.

Where to find it : A book Apart

The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide – Leah Buley

I started my career as the “only UX designer in the team” and this book was really helpful. The book is split in 2 parts: philosophy (building principles, attitude, perspective) and practice (methods, techniques, tips and tricks). The first part concentrates on helping you sell UX to the company . The second one presents different UX methods and tools to help you build user centric products . Both parts are equally useful depending on where you work and where you are in your career.

Where to find it : Rosenfeld Media – Amazon

User Experience Revolution – Paul Boag

This is a nice complement to Leah Buley’s book and will help you “sell” UX process within a company . This is a step by step battle plan to help you build a UX revolution and place users at the heart of your organization, from understanding it, selling the benefits, to customer experience evangelisation, getting managerial support, establishing best practices and more.

Where to find it : Boarworld.com – Amazon

UX for Beginners: A Crash Course in 100 Short Lessons – Joel Marsh

I love the duck on the cover and this is a nice introduction to the different aspects of UX design. It covers a LOT of topics so you won’t go deep into each one, but it’s a nice book for beginners to grasp the different concepts and decide what they want to dig into more later. It’s full of illustrations though so I would advise to get a paper version or to read it on a tablet but not on kindle.

Where to find it : Amazon

best books for ux research

“Don’t make me think” + “Rocket Surgery Made Easy” – Steve Krug

Steven Krug can be considered as the godfather of usability and user testing. Those 2 books are classics to read on usability and user testing . They are a little bit “dated”, but still provide a nice base for the discipline.

Where to find it : Don’t make me think: Author’s page –  Amazon | Rocket Surgery Made Easy: Author’s page – Amazon

Interviewing for research: a pocket guide to design research – Andrew Travers

Want to learn how to conduct user research and interviews ? This is a small free 60 pages quick field guide to help you get started: recruitment, preparation, conducting the interview, documentation and synthesis. Also the book is available for free on the author’s site, yeahy.

Where to find it : Free on author’s page

How to recruit participants for usability studies – Deborah Hinderer Sova and Jakob Nielsen

A free 234 pages guidelines on how to set up, recruit and manage users for your usability tests .

Where to find it : NN Group page

best books for ux research

Design for Cognitive Bias – David Dylan Thomas

We  like to think we know why we take decisions, that our memory is perfect. It’s not. 95% of cognition, choices happens below the threshold of conscious thought. David wrote this amazing guide on how to navigate our own brains . This book will help you understand different biases : users, stakeholders and your own. It’s packed with examples inside and outside the digital world on how those biases might affect people. But also how to harness those to bring good to products and the world.

Where to find it: A Book Apart

Psychology for designers – Joe Leech

This a a pocket book you can quickly read that will give you advice on how to use and find psychology theories and apply them to your designs .

Where to find it: psychologyfordesigners.com

Designing for Emotion – Aarron Walter

The reference book to start learning how to design for emotions and build a memorable experience by the design lead at MailChimp

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People – Susan M. Weinschenk

Psychology theory is sometimes scary but Susan does a great job at making those theories accessible and easy to understand. I really like the format of the book: 100 little cheat sheets organized in different categories with practical takeaways for each theory. This is one of those books you keep on your desk and refer back to when you need it.

100 More Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People  – Susan M. Weinschenk

Not it’s not a typo, the important word is “more”. Susan is back with even more theories to help you understand how people’s brains work , yeahy!

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less – Barry Schwartz

This is one of those “basics to read books” when it comes to psychology. It’s a great book to understand how humans work and how they take (or don’t take) decisions . Keep in mind it was written in 2004 though.

best books for ux research

Everyday information architecture – Lisa Maria Marquis

This book is a great introduction to information architecture (obviously). Information architecture focuses on structuring, organizing and labelling content on your site so that can find it and use it different ways. This is a really practical books with lots of examples from Lisa’s project. Lisa examples how to conduct a content audit, how to build and structure categories, labels and different tags and taxonomies. She explains how to analyse the site structure and how to build sitemaps. Finally she shows different structures of navigation and way-finding for you users. This book helped me a lot on my current project. I have 400 different pages with a lot of super heavy content. The book gave me a framework and structure to help me make sense of all of that content for a redesign and migration. I highly recommend it to every designer!

How to make sense of any mess – Abby Covert

I loved that book. It is a beginner’s guide to information architecture split into 7 chapters that will guide you through a journey to help you better understand how to structure, mostly anything (but especially websites). Each chapter contains examples, lessons, but also graphs and exercises. It’s a great book for beginners. And even if I’m not a beginner, I ended up smiling, nodding and underlining a lot of parts because Abby has a really amazing way to explain those complex concepts. 100% recommend it!

Where to find it: Abby’s Website – Free version online

Design ethics, diversity and creativity

best books for ux research

Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech – Sara Wachter-Boettcher

A must read to understand how techno-solutionism messed up the world, creating biases product and services that will discriminate “at best” some people, become a nightmare for some others. Sexist, racist, and biased design and development practices create toxic tech that harms users and society . And she gives practical advice on how to be aware and critical of what we use. And how we can demand more ethical and inclusive tech from the companies that create them.

Where to find it: Amazon

Extra Bold – A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-racist, Nonbinary Field Guide for Graphic Designers

This is a collaboration of different contents related to design on topics like feminism, inclusivity, anti-racism, non binarity, etc . written by a diverse team of authors to rethink design principles and practices. There’s interviews, essays, some comic books, survival guides and a lot of other amazing formats that make this book a piece of art as well. This is why  I got the paper version, I’m not sure if it is nice as an ebook.

Where to find it : Amazon // ExtraBold

Design for Real Life – Sara Wachter-Boettcher & Eric A. Meyer

A great book on how to design with compassion, integrity and make sure none is left out or even worse, made feel bad when using your products and services. Sara and Eric have some great examples of what happens when things go bad and how to avoid this.

Where to find it : A Book Apart

Ruined by Design – Mike Monteiro

An interesting exploration on how design choices, from technology interfaces to product designs, have contributed to environmental degradation, social issues, and ethical dilemmas . The book challenges us to recognize our political responsibilities. It also tries to provide some tools to help us make more informed, ethical decisions

Steal like an artist – Austin Kleon

A small book featuring 10 “tips” to help you become a creative person and get over the “blank page” fear .

Where to find it : Author’s page – Amazon

best books for ux research

Designing for the Web – Mark Boulton

This is a nice introduction to help you design websites. It covers some generic advice on workflow, the research and ideation phase and goes deeper into typography, color, layout with detailed examples of different websites. Remember that the book was written in 2009 thought so the examples look outdated, but the design theories and advice are still pretty accurate.

Where to find it : designingfortheweb.co.uk (read the book online or download it for free!)

Refactoring UI – Adam Wathan & Steve Schoger

This is not just an ebook, but a whole package with videos, online lessons, etc. The promise of Refactoring UI: explain design tactics to developers. And it works! Not only for developers! The authors cover hierarchy, layout, spacing, text, color, working with depth and images to the finishing touches to help you bring your UIs to the next level.

Where to find it : refactoringui.com

On Web Typography – Jason Santa Maria

This book focuses on one particular aspect of web and UI design: typography. The author explains how people read, how typography works and different methods and tips to evaluate and pair typefaces . A good introduction to help you avoid typography faux pas!

Combining typefaces – Tim Brown

This is one of those “pocket guides” that are now available for free since  Five Simple Steps closed. It’s a nice quick to read practical guide to help you get the right typography choices for your designs .

Where to find it : Blog Typekit (for free)

Atomic Design – Brad Frost

From atoms, to molecules, organismes, templates and pages, Brad offers and interesting method to build strong and versatile design systems that will scale and how to maintain them.

Where to find it : Author’s book page or Read it for free online

Design Systems: A practical guide to creating design languages for digital products – Alla Kholmatova

Alla researched a lot about how the design systems of different companies and products where built and bring you all this knowledge in this great book. It’s a great introduction to the process of building a design system . If you thought you could just copy/paste a Sketch file from a previous client, I (or Alla) hate to break it to you, but this is not how it works. The book is split in 2 parts : the foundation is about really understanding what a design system is and the “process” part will help you get your hands dirty.

Where to find it : Smashing Magazine

best books for ux research

Content Strategy for Mobile –  Karen McGrane

I might be biased because I love Karen, but this book is one of my number one references when it comes down to content strategy . She wrote this in 2012 and I still use some of the methods she wrote about today (2019) in workshops to help me build a strong content strategy and hierarchy, not only for mobile but across different screen sizes. Because “You don’t get to decide which platform or device your customers use to access your content: they do”.

Responsive Web Design – Ethan Marcotte

The “Bible” for responsive web design . It was written in 2010, things have changed since, but still quite a nice reference to read and help you get started. This book has some code examples to help you practise.

Mobile First – Luke Wroblewski

While Ethan’s book focuses on “desktop to mobile”, Luke’s book helps you understand how to build a mobile, starting from smaller screens . There’s no code examples but the book focuses more on strategy, the whys and hows.

Designing for Touch – Josh Clark

Understanding touch size , gestures and how touch devices work is an essential’s part of design today. This book focuses on t he usability of touch interfaces but also provides a few code examples to help you implement touch friendly interactions

Going Responsive – Karen McGrane

While Ethan, Luke and Josh’s previous books focus on “how”, this book focuses on the “why” and the strategic part of responsive web design . If you still need some arguments to convince people and a plan to approach a big responsive redesign, this book will help you! Keep in mind it was written in 2015 though.

Responsive Design Workflow – Stephen Hay

This is another book that changed the way I work. Stephen goes deep into the “how” to build responsive website and offers quite a few interesting ideas to help you build your own process. Ever heard of designing for breakpoints and breakpoint graphs?

Where to find it : responsivedesignworkflow.com – Amazon

best books for ux research

Accessibility for Everyone – Laura Kalbag

A great guide to help you get started in the field of accessibility : understanding disabilities, laws, guidelines, planning, testing and evaluating accessibility, etc. This book will demystify a few concepts for you before you can jump into the whole ARIA WCAG complexity.

Where to find it : Author’s page – A Book Apart

Color accessibility workflows – Geri Coady

This was a really great book on color accessibility to learn about colour-blindness, choosing appropriate colors, to learn how to test your designs, provide alternatives when it doesn’t work, etc.

best books for ux research

Design is a Job – Mike Monteiro

A must read book on everything that goes “around” running a design business: contracts, selling design, brief, meetings , etc. A MUST read, especially if you want to freelance.

Where to find it : A Book Apart 

You’re My Favorite Client  – Mike Monteiro

The second book of Mike Monteiro focuses on the topic of “how to make design decisions”. Mike demystifies the design process and helps you better communicate with clients, stakeholders, team members and make the whole collaboration process go smoother.

Resilient Management – Lara Hogan

I wrote a longer review here . This book will help you better communicate with coworkers and build stronger teams . It’s full of frameworks to help you and really good advice.

The “other” books that don’t fit on those design categories

Demystifying public speaking –  lara hogan.

I wrote a longer review here , basically the book you need if you start public speaking (and if you continue as well)

Where to find it : Author’s page – A Book Apart  – Read if for free online

Animation at Work – Rachel Nabors

This is not only a book about CSS animations, it’s also about understanding the human perception of animations , what purpose they serve on a website and how to communicate them with your teams.

Other places to find books

I am not the only one who shares her book’s list. So here are a few other places to find some books to read:

  • Design Books by Womxn & People of Color , a curated list of book written by womxn and people of color. Thanks a lot to @theyuanstudio the curator of this list.
  • Non-Design Books for Designers — Women Authors Edition curated by Kate Rutter
  • Non-Design Books for Designers – curated by Dan Saffer
  • Darren Hood’s Living, Breathing User Experience Book Recommendation List
  • To Learn a New UX Skill, Read an Old Book
  • Readinglist.design : 35 Books Every Designer Should Read, curated by people from the industry.

My favorite editors for design and technical books

I tend to love the format of most books from A Book Apart because they are small, practical, easy to read and well formatted on my Kindle. Smashing Library has a also a great selection of ebook, and the Smashing books are always a delight to read.

Other articles you might enjoy:

  • 4 Non Design/Tech Books That Help My Career
  • A User Research and UX Design Starter Kit
  • Enterprise UX: essential resources to design complex data tables
  • An Introduction to User Journey Map + free User Journey Map Templates
  • 15+ Expert Resources For Mobile UI Inspiration: Patterns, Components and Flows

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Published on 6 March 2021

in Lists of Tools, Books & Links

By Stéphanie Walter

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