The Top 40 UX Books of All Time – As recommended by UX Designers

We asked our favourite UX Designers as well as the UX Review mentors for their top UX books of all time. Not all of the books are specifically UX based – some are general design or psychology books but they have all inspired a UX Designer somewhere.

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1. UX team of one

Author: Leah Buley

Best for: People on their own

Recommended by: All of the Datacom Digital Experience team and David Montero, UX Lead at Blippar

Comments

This is the number one favourite UX book of all the Datacom DX team. We had one copy which got passed around from pillar to post so in the end we had to buy a second one. David agrees saying ‘it’s a very resourceful cookbook to find your way around in any step of the product design cycle’. He invited Leah to a Q&A session at the UX Amsterdam Bookclub and it went down a storm.

2. Don’t Make Me Think : A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Author: Steve Krug

Best for: UX 101 – people who want a complete introduction

Recommended by: Futurist Jason Cranford-Teague, Career Foundry Mentor Chava Canolli, Invision’s Jennifer Aldrich, Steven Entezari, Senior Research Associate in HCI and Cyber Security and SketchnoteHangout.com organiser Dr Makayla Lewis

Comments

Jennifer says ‘If someone just wants to flip through a quick, run read, Don’t Make Me Think is a great place to start’. Steven agrees saying ‘Krug breaks down the UX process into delicious and digestible chunks – my students are able to spot examples from the book in the world immediately.’

Chava particularly likes the before and after glimpse into Amazon’s navigation style as it really shows why navigation is important.

3. The Design of Everyday Things

Author: Don Norman

Best for:  The classic

Recommended by: UX Planet’s Nick Babich, Paul Olyshager, CanUX’s Cornelius Rachieru Jr., and Jennifer Aldrich

Comments

Nick says ‘This won’t be a surprise to many of you –  my favourite book is quite common choose among UX designers. Don Norman provides universal examples of good (and bad) design. The examples may not be specifically about graphical UI design, but the lessons learned are directly applicable. And I really love his vision of user experience’.

Jennifer says ‘The Design of Everyday Things completely changed the way I look at the world around me! :)’

4. Lean UX

Author: Jeff Gothelf

Best for: Learning about lean methodologies

Recommended by: Senior UX Specialist at BNZ Natalie Kershner, UX Mentor Tom Corser, NV Interactive’s Digital Strategist Mark Delaney

Price: £19.60
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Comments

Tom says ‘Lean UX is an excellent method of remaining lean and focusing on learnings’

Mark says ‘Lean UX helps drive these core UX tenets into actionable outcomes for real world problem solving & design thinking.’

Natalie says ‘We run a Lean UX methodology in BNZ Digital as it’s a really fast and efficient way to bring everybody on the UX journey and every person, irrelevant of role, develops a deep empathy for the customer.’

5. About Face

Authors: Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, Christopher Noessel

Best for: Dipping in and out

Recommended by: UI/UX Designer Jade Doel, Cornelius Rachieru Jr, NV Interactive’s Creative Lead Marcus Robertson

Comments

Jade says ‘I love that you can flip to any page, have a quick read and then put it away and feel that you’ve learnt something new. It’s great for daily or weekly references when you need a top up or be reminded on some UX fundamentals’

6. Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming

Author: Anthony Dunne, Fiona Raby

Best for: People interested in the social and cultural impact of design

Recommended by: Design Director at GE Aviation Digital Solutions, Phil Balagtas

Comments

Phil describes this as the seminal book on speculative design.  He says ‘this discusses and showcases projects that have emerged in the realm of speculative and critical design—a form of design that interrogates the social and cultural impact of design and the ethical challenges around emerging technology. This book will question design’s role and impact and how we can pave a path toward a more preferable future by avoiding potential negative outcomes of products and services’.

7. Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences (Voices That Matter)

Author: Stephen P. Anderson

Best for:  People who came into UX from a technical background

Recommended by: Tom Corser, Steven Entezari

Comments

Tom says ‘This is an excellent guide to the psychology behind great interactions’ and Steven adds  ‘Anderson opens the minds of UX’ers with a heavy tech background into the world of designing pleasurable experiences.’

8. Undercover User Experience Design (Voices That Matter)

Authors:  Cennydd Bowles, James Box

Best for: When you’re on a budget

Recommended by: Career Foundry Mentor Sophie Lephinoy, Cornelius Rachieru Jr.

Comments

Sophie says ‘A brief but extremely effective book which gives UX designers all the practical tools to research and design, even on a budget’

9. Applying Cognitive Psychology to User-Interface Design

Author: Margaret M. Gardiner (Author), Bruce Christie (Author)

Best for:  The golden oldie

Recommended by: Pete Pavan, UX Consultant at LexisNexis

Comments

Pete says ‘it’s the seminal book in UX design. The professor who taught me UX , Bruce, co-wrote it in 1987 and I loved it because it was so ahead of its time.  Bruce Christie was a shy, lovely man with zero patience or tolerance for weakness in academic rigour. I read the book to understand where he was coming from and to make sure I met his expectations – he’d previously failed a student for using the wrong type of bullet points in his coursework! Top guy though…he had an acerbic, cynical wit about the profession even in 1999.’

10. The UX Book

Author:  Pardha S. Pyla.

Best for: A complete UX thesaurus

Recommended by: Paul Olyshager

Comments

Paul says ‘since UX is such a broad topic, this is the only one that covers most of them. It can be used like a thesaurus; the only downside being it is rather expensive’.

4 thoughts on “The Top 40 UX Books of All Time – As recommended by UX Designers”

  1. Simon F says:

    Intriguing list. Almost enough to make me want to become a UX guru. Sadly, I’m not. But I do know that if Apple’s “Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines” was good enough to influence Neal Stephenson’s design of the Metaverse in his novel Snow Crash, then it’s good enough to make #41 in this list 🙂

    1. Caroline White says:

      Yes. a very worthy #41. Thanks Neal :-

  2. Pablo says:

    Which of these would you recommend developers to read to get an understanding of what their UX colleagues do and also improve their own work?

    1. Caroline White says:

      Hey Pablo. Great question. Seductive Interaction Design by Stephen Anderson is thought to be great for people coming from a technical background who want to know more about UX.

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