Books Every Designer Needs to Read

Nowadays where so much of the content we consume is tweet-sized or scrolling through blogs, there is something to be said about making time in the day… for the unique experience of reading a book.

Ratings from Goodreads out of 5.0

Start with these staples

The Design of Everyday Things, 4.15
Donald Norman
An absolute classic on general non-digital product design.
product design, mental models, design heuristics

Don’t Make Me Think, 4.2
Steve Krug
An introduction to web design with a focus on usability and how to create invisible interfaces for great web experiences.
web design, usability, testing

The Elements of User Experience, 4.0
Jesse Garrett
Garrett outlines a mental framework to approach user experience from various hierarchies, starting at the atomic level and building up.
interaction design, information architecture, product strategy, design structure

Dive deeper

UX for Lean Startups, 4.1
Laura Klein
“Lean UX Is About Validating Hypotheses.” Focuses on the design process for validating, designing and building products quickly and efficiently. Not to be confused with Jeff Gothelf’s “Lean UX”.
design for startups, experimentation, user testing

Microinteractions, 4.0
Dan Saffer
Saffer offers a deep dive into the atomic unit of design, the microinteraction. Offers in-depth case studies with plenty to explore.
interaction design, behavioral design, mental models

Design is a Job, 4.35
Mike Monteiro
Monteiro started his own design firm and discusses how to be a design professional, because being a designer is not just the UX of your work, but the UX of you and your relationships.
selling design, design as a career, soft & hard design skills

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, 4.0
Susan Weinschenk
Deep dive of blend between the psychology of people and designing user experiences. Offers many rules of thumb, case studies, and takeaways for approaching design heuristics.
behavioral design, design heuristics, emotional design

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 4.4
Edward Tufte
Tufte is a legend in the design community for communicating data. This is, in my opinion, his best book (they all tend to have overlapping content), and the highest rated book on this list.
data visualization, history of design

Check out these books that aren’t specifically design

Essentialism, 3.9
Greg McKeown
Although ironically the book is a little lengthy, essentialism encapsulates a powerful and simple life philosophy.

The Lean Startup, 4.0
Eric Ries
Famous approach to the just-do-it philosophy on how to get started fast while reducing the risk of failure.

Predictably Irrational, 4.1
Dan Ariely
Short but intriguing book on behavioral economics with many applications to UX, strategy, pricing, branding, etc.

Thinking Fast and Slow, 4.0
Daniel Kahneman
A comprehensive tome to behavioral economics and psychology. Extremely well-written and organized.

Hooked, 4.0
Nir Eyal
In an age of information and product overload, retention is king. Eyal discusses a holistic approach of how to build that into the product, the vision, and the mission.

Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google?, 4.2
Ian Gilbert
Although a bit of an anomaly on the list, Gilbert discusses the impacts of our constant access to the Internet to education and personal development.

To-Read List

User Experience Team of One, 4.2
Leah Buley

Thinking with Type, 4.05
Ellen Lupton

Steal Like an Artist, 3.9
Austin Kleon

Content Strategy for Web, 4.0
Kristina Halvorson

The Inmates are Running the Asylum, 3.95
Alan Cooper

Seductive Interaction Design, 4.1
Stephen Anderson

This is just a beginning and I’m sure there are many more books to add. Let me know what you think!

Like what you read? Give Julia Zhao Xu a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.