Must-Read UX Books: The UX Designer’s Ultimate Reading List

60+ books on UX, product design, design thinking, software development, empathy, user research, sprints, creative potential, human behavior and psychology, concept development, collaboration, branding, marketing, inclusion, typography, color, and general professional development

Learning from others in the industry has been an integral part of growing and challenging myself professionally. While I get to learn from people by working with them, I have also gained a lot from reading the works of others and applying the knowledge I have learned in my roles in design and development.

I’ve put together a list of books on UX design and building great products. This list is perfect for junior UX designers, UX designers who are lifelong learners (as we all should be!), people interested in finding more about UX and product design, and people interested in building great products in general (even if you’re not a designer).

Because UX is such an interdisciplinary area, focusing on the T-shaped model in terms of skills can be valuable. Deep mastery of a specialized skill (the vertical stem of the “T”) helps you be succesful in your role. You become the go-to for that area and many organizations staff people according to a specific skill or area. However, having some experience and knowledge in other areas helps you gel with the team. With some understanding and appreciation for other disciplines, collaboration and communicate happens more seamlessly. You have empathy for your teammates and can see a problem from their perspective. That’s why I continuously learn and read about areas outside of just my focus area and you’ll see that my reading list reflects my appreciation for T-shaped skill sets.

If you’ve read any of these books before, or if you have other books to suggest, feel free to let me know. I would love to hear about what you thought and what you got out of them. This list is going to be ever-growing and updated regularly as I come across more books (I’ll mark the new ones added). Happy reading!

Design Thinking and UX

  1. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
  2. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown
  3. The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition by Don Norman
  4. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D.
  5. 100 MORE Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Voices That Matter) by Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D.
  6. The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley
  7. Applied Empathy: The New Language of Leadership by Michael Ventura
  8. Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work by Indi Young
  9. Talking to Humans: Success starts with understanding your customers by Giff Constable
  10. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz
  11. Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated: 125 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler

Concept Development

  1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
  2. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover
  3. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  4. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
  5. How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery by Kevin Ashton
  6. The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam
  7. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
  8. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Human Behavior and Psychology

  1. The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz
  2. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover
  3. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Creative Potential

  1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
  2. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
  3. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
  4. Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills by David Sherwin

Collaboration

  1. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  2. Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration by Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman
  3. Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock
  4. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
  5. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr
  6. The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam
  7. Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden

Software Development

  1. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin
  2. Eloquent JavaScript by Marjin Haverbeke
  3. Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration by Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman
  4. Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction by Steve McConnell
  5. Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, and Ralph Johnson
  6. Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual by John Sonmez
  7. Working Effectively with Legacy Code by Michael Feathers

Brand Identity

  1. The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design by Marty Neumeier
  2. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeler
  3. Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities by David Airey

Communication and Storytelling

  1. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff
  2. Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo

Marketing

  1. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
  2. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Inclusion

  1. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil
  2. Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang
  3. Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
  4. Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design by Kat Holmes (added by Serene Mireles)

Data Visualization and Storytelling

  1. Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten by Stephen Few
  2. Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic
  3. The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics by Dona M. Wong
  4. Understanding the World: The Atlas of Infographics by Sandra Rendgen
  5. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte
  6. Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte

Typography

  1. Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton
  2. The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

Color

  1. Color Design Workbook: A Real World Guide to Using Color in Graphic Design by Sean Adams and Terry Stone

Predictions

  1. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t by Nate Silver
  2. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner

Might remove this section above.

Career / Professional Development

  1. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  2. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  3. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  4. The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson and John David Mann
  5. Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One by Jenny Blake
  6. The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone
  7. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

If you’ve read any of these books before, or if you have other books to suggest, feel free to let me know. I would love to hear about what you thought and what you got out of them. This list is going to be ever-growing and updated regularly as I come across more books (I’ll mark the new ones added). Happy reading!