2016 Naughty & Nice UX Gift Guide

We could let 2016 go out the door without putting together another of our Naughty and Nice gift guides for all those UXers out there. For us this has been a mixed year filled with some pretty good and pretty awful UX books. Following what we proposed last year, we’re going to pair a book with a UX gift and divide these into gifts you can get for those you love… and hate.

Gifts for the Nice UXer

Pictures from my own Falling Water Lego Set and then when I went to visit in July.

Legos and Architecture

Last Christmas my husband got me the Lego set for Falling Water House and a book about it. While not strictly about UX, I don’t know a single UXer that doesn’t enjoy a good Lego Architecture set. Getting a book to go with it is just icing on the cake. Plus, since we live in Maryland, we had a really great place to go for our anniversary that year. I think this would be a win for pretty much anyone nerdy, but Falling Water House in particular appeals to many UX people who love design in general. Plus, it turns out that Frank Llyod Write was kind of a bad ass, but not until he was crazy old. Hearing his life story is a great reminder that learning your craft and practicing it to perfection allows you to create your own voice, which later in your life can help you create amazing things.

Putting the Pieces Together

There is nothing more frustrating than sitting there and waiting for your muse to strike. And, for us, that is particularly puzzling when you have to sit and wait for inspiration for a new logo design. We thought you could take advantage of MoMA’s deal on these beautiful puzzle cubes and pair them with a book on logo design. This year we reviewed How to Design Logos, Symbols and Icons by Gregory Thomas. There is nothing more inspiring than looking at the different potential shapes these puzzle cubes make while also trying to come up with a conceptual framework for a new logo. Or, sitting there reading How to Design Logos, Symbols and Icons while playing with this puzzle.

All in on Tufte

A few years ago my friend got me a Tufte poster and it hangs in my study where I’m writing this post. It is one of the most thoughtful gifts that anyone has ever gotten me. It turns out that Tufte sells all kinds of posters, including the amazing info-graphic shown here that details Napoleons march across Russia. To go with one of Tufte’s poster you could check out our review on The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Really, you could just get your UXer any of Tufte’s books and you’d be #winning.

Echo, what is a good gift for UX?

This year we wrote an amazing post on Voice UI. It seems like we can’t throw a rock without hitting some new and interesting piece of research on voice UIs and how they are impacting homes and businesses. Why not get one in your home? Amazon also has a great deal on their Echo Dot. And, I can’t stop crying every time I see Google’s add for the Home. I’m literally crying right now just looking up this ad. “Ok Google, dim the lights!” Ugs. It is too cute.

Business of UX

Last but not least, I can’t imagine how amazingly nerdy it would feel to pass out business cards in a little Pantone business card holder. How flippin cute are these? I want to just put all my cards in them. Pair this business card holder with The Design of Business, and your Nice UXer is set. Like we say in our review, business is about focusing on creativity and providing user-focused solutions. What better way to make an introduction and set the tone of a business conversation than letting everyone know just how serious about design you are?

Gifts for the Naughty UXer

Lean or just not Enough?

I swear if I have to hear one more person ask me for something that is an MVP, I’m going to… well, I’m going to design what the customer asks me for, dag nab it. It just isn’t my favorite saying. If it isn’t your favorite phrase either, why don’t you give your Naughty UXer some Millennium Sport Technology MVP multi-vitamin! It has adaptogens (I don’t even know where to start on this made up word), vitamins (yum!), and antioxidants (for all the extra air your breathing to not punch someone who is asking you for another MVP!). To go with these delicious treats, we recommend reading The Lean Startup. It is sure to make you feel like you spend too much time doing useful work!

The Gift that is really for You

While I think it is best of we stay apolitical, we would be remiss without saying that some of the most important organizations out there doing good work are probably going to be having funding problems over the next few years. I can think of nothing better than to make a donation in the name of someone you don’t like. We personally love the Anita Borg Institute, who does amazing work to try and get more women into Computer Science. Click here to donate. There are other organizations that we think are great: Society of Women Engineers, Maryland Food Bank, Planned Parenthood, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. And, we would be silly not say that some of the best non-partisan news reporting is going on at PBS and through NPR. We personally love everything Mother Jones and they have their own book gift guide this year and accept donations! Just imagine the look on that naughty UXers face when they receive a donation to a place you really believe in!

Criminally funny?

Earlier this year we wrote about mobile form design. I can think of nothing funnier than getting your naughty UXer a completely off topic iphone case to be paired with that book. I mean I know that every snooty UXer has an iPhone. It is a biological fact. They are physically incapable of having any other device at hand. Why not really send the message that you know nothing about each other and that you want to keep it that way with this amazing Criminal Minds iPhone case?


Before we end we’d like to put a link to this amazing UXMas. Every day has an article about a different UX topic: “Every day at 8.00am (Australian EDT) throughout December in the lead-up to Christmas, a delightful little treat is gifted to the UX community. It could be an article, a video, a sketch, or something else — just like a real advent calendar, you never know what you’re going to get.”

We wish you, dear reader, a happy holidays. I raise my spiked hot chocolate and salute to you. May they your new year be filled with well designed interfaces, happy developers, and fruitful collaboration.

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