Reading List — design, product, etc

This is a list of good books that I’ve read, my learnings and notes. This is work-in-progress and unlisted.

What is Design? (noun)

  • Design came into prominence after Industrial Revolution. Mass manufactured goods needed good understanding of material, function and aesthetics. It is not art. It is craft with a purpose.
  • Almost everything we see, touch, use is human made.
  • Objectified, Helvetica by Gary Hustwit
  • Ten principles of good design by Dieter Rams
  • Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman — introduces terms like Affordances, Signifiers, Mental Models, Natural Mapping, Gulf of Understand, Gulf of Execution, Constraints, Discoverability, Feedback,
  • Universal principles of design — 100+ principles for designing
  • Form follows function. Mostly.
  • Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter

What is a good Design Process?

When presented with a problem, do not jump into designing and bulding the first thing that comes to one’s mind

  1. Understand the problem and context — talk to users, stakeholders, observe users, do literature study, learn about the capabilities of technology etc
  2. Reframe the problem statement
  3. Explore multiple diverging ideas and filter them based on constraints
  4. Prototype/Build the most promising idea(s) in most efficient and least risky way
  5. Test them with people/market — who will ultimately decide if the product is useful, usable and desirable.
  6. Repeat steps 1–5

This has been adapted and interpreted by people for different scenarios:

  • Design Thinking by Stanford, Human Centered Design by, Double Diamond design process by Design council UK
  • Lean Startup when applied to new venture ideas. Each iteration is an experiment, where Hypothesis is created a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is used to validate or invalidate the hypothesis
  • The Design Sprint a ‘five-day process for answering critical business’ question by Google Ventures

Sketches and Prototypes

  • Sketching is a way to explore, self-critique and improve. Sketches are not Prototypes. Sketching User Experience: Getting the design right and right design by Bill Buxton
  • To draw straight lines, look at where the pencil should go, rather than seeing the pencil tip.
  • Prototypes are for ‘solving the right problem’ (eg. experience prototypes), ‘solving the problem right’ ( prototypes with varying amount of features, functionality, interactions, form and visuals)
  • MVP is the quickest way to test a hypothesis. It could be an emailer, a sales brochure, a prototype with static data, or a hacky app with working data. It is a thin slice across all product characteristics and not an incremental build up of a product.
  • Instead of MVP, create MLP , MAP , MOP (Minimum Outstanding Product term is up for grabs)

Creativity and Innovation

  • One has to create many bad designs to get one good design. Quantity is needed for quality.
  • Good artists copy. Great artists steal. ‘Good’ designers copy from Dribble. Great designers think from first principles and then steal what’s needed.
  • Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson. Good summary here.

User Experience Design

UI Design

Interaction Design

Visual Design


  • Job to be done as a better framework than User Personas. Job Stories instead of user stories
  • Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen
  • Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan
  • Measure What Matters by John Doerr
  • Talks by Product Managers
  • Following a process does not make up for poor decisions by people
  • Getting customers to pay for a product is a better way to validate product than asking if they find it useful.
  • Having a deep understanding of user and making product decisions, is* better than showing mocks and asking users.


Design Research

UX writing

Information / Data Visualisation

What’s after GUI?

Essential books

Technology, ML / AI

Education and Learning