UX design is one of the hottest growth areas on the web. Evolving and getting better to design great user experiences is critical.

There are 100’s of books out there ready and willing to help UX designers and developers get to the next level.

UX design is not about one book or one resource. It is a huge and complex topic - it is about psychology, sociology and design. The field also requires tactical skills, such as user research, usability testing, create interactive wireframes or prototypes.

Below is a list of my favorite reads, ranging from the traditional user experience stories to those focused on user behavior, psychology, marketing, and design concepts.

These 15 books are must-reads for anyone on a journey to become a badass UX designer.

  • The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. The rules are simple: make things visible, exploit natural relationships that couple function and control, and make intelligent use of constraints. The goal: guide the user effortlessly to the right action on the right control at the right time.

    In this entertaining and insightful analysis, cognitive scientist Don Norman hails excellence of design as the most important key to regaining the competitive edge in influencing consumer behavior. Now fully expanded and updated, with a new introduction by the author, The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how—and why—some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.

    The Design of Everyday Things is even more relevant today than it was when first published.”—Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO, and author of Change by Design

    Don Norman The Design of Everyday Things

    Amazon

    Don Norman The Design of Everyday Things

    If you can choose just one book about design, UI, usability, and caring about users -- This is that book.

  • Since Don’t Make Me Think was first published in 2000, now Steve returns with fresh perspective to reexamine the principles that made Don’t Make Me Think a classic–with updated examples and a new chapter on mobile usability. And it’s still short, profusely illustrated…and best of all–fun to read.

    “After reading it over a couple of hours and putting its ideas to work for the past five years, I can say it has done more to improve my abilities as a Web designer than any other book.”
    –Jeffrey Zeldman, author of Designing with Web Standards

    Steve Krug Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited

    Amazon

    Steve Krug Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited

    Don’t Make Me Think so essential to Web designers and developers around the world. This is a longstanding classic in the UX Design field.

  • The answer to a sustainable bestseller is to shift the focus from making an awesome product to making an awesome user of that product. The answer lies is helping users become badass not just at using the product, but at whatever it is the product can help them do and be. And some of those answers are surprising, counterintuitive, but can be implemented by anyone at any stage in a product’s development. Even if you can’t improve your product, you can still improve your user’s experience by designing for what happens after they use it.

    "In BADASS: Making Users Awesome, Kathy Sierra -- one of our brightest business minds -- offers up a surprising insight into what makes certain offerings shine in a competitive marketplace. Believe it or not, many people don't care how awesome your product is. Instead, they care about how awesome they are when they use your product. If you can tap into that motivation, you've got gold. This books shows you how."
    -- Daniel H. Pink, author of To Sell is Human and DRIVE

    Kathy Sierra Badass: Making Users Awesome

    Amazon

    Kathy Sierra Badass: Making Users Awesome

    A smart, fast read on helping users become badass not just at using your product, but at whatever it is your product can help them do and be.

  • This completely updated volume presents the effective and practical tools you need to design great desktop applications, Web 2.0 sites, and mobile devices. You’ll learn the principles of good product behavior and gain an understanding of Cooper’s Goal-Directed Design method, which involves everything from conducting user research to defining your product using personas and scenarios. Ultimately, you’ll acquire the knowledge to design the best possible digital products and services.

    When the first edition of About Face was published in 1995, the idea of designing products based on human goals was a revolutionary concept. Thanks to the work of Alan Cooper and other pioneers, interaction design is now widely recognized as a unique and vital discipline, but our work is far from finished. This completely updated volume presents the effective and practical tools you need to design great desktop applications, Web 2.0 sites, and mobile devices.

    Alan Cooper About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design

    Amazon

    Cooper, Reimann, Cronin, Noessel About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design

    About Face 3 is a great intro to UX Design and will show you how to design the best possible digital products and services.

  • This book combines real science and research with practical examples to deliver a guide every designer needs. Find the answers to questions such as: What grabs and holds attention on a page or screen? What makes memories stick? How do you motivate people to continue on to (the next step? Are some fonts better than others? These are just a few of the questions that the book answers in its deep-dive exploration of what makes people tick.

    Susan has a Ph.D.in Psychology and over 30 years of experience as a behavioral scientist. She speaks, consults, teaches, and writes books about applying psychology to the workplace. Susan writes two popular blogs: the Brain Wise blog at Psychology Today, and her own blog at her website: theteamw.com/blog.

    Susan Weinschenk 100 Things Every Designer...

    Amazon

    Susan Weinschenk 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

    This book combines real science and research with practical examples to deliver a guide every designer needs.

  • The Elements of User Experience cuts through the complexity of user-centered design for the Web with clear explanations and vivid illustrations that focus on ideas rather than tools or techniques. Jesse James Garrett gives readers the big picture of Web user experience development, from strategy and requirements to information architecture and visual design. This accessible introduction helps any Web development team, large or small, to create a successful user experience.

    "Finally, a concise explanation of User Experience that synthesizes its many disparate parts." -- Louis Rosenfeld, co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

    "Garrett brings incisive clarity to the complex process of providing a high-quality experience to people who use your web site." -- Alan Cooper, Author of About Face and The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

    Jesse James Garrett The Elements of User Experience

    Amazon

    Jesse James Garrett The Elements of User Experience

    This book cuts through the complexity of user-centered design for the Web with clear explanations and vivid illustrations.

  • The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience aims to help readers learn how to create and refine interaction designs that ensure a quality user experience (UX). The book seeks to expand the concept of traditional usability to a broader notion of user experience; to provide a hands-on, practical guide to best practices and established principles in a UX lifecycle; and to describe a pragmatic process for managing the overall development effort.

    This comprehensive text on designing interaction to ensure a quality user experience combines breadth, depth, and practical applications, and takes a time-tested, process-and-guidelines approach that provides you with actionable methods and techniques while retaining a firm grounding in human computer interaction concepts and theory. The authors will guide you through the UX lifecycle process. Whether a student or practitioner, you will come away with knowledge and understanding of how to create and refine interaction designs to ensure a quality user experience.

    Rex Hartson and Pardha Pyla The UX Book

    Amazon

    Rex Hartson and Pardha Pyla The UX Book

    This book will be useful to anyone interested in learning more about creating interaction designs to ensure a quality user experience.

  • Learn how companies make us feel good about doing what they want. Approaching persuasive design from the dark side, this book melds psychology, marketing, and design concepts to show why we're susceptible to certain persuasive techniques. Packed with examples from every nook and cranny of the web, it provides easily digestible and applicable patterns for putting these design techniques to work.

    "Better read this book before your neighbor goes and pulls a fast one on you. If this appeal to fear isn't enough, then maybe greed will do the trick: any website will make lots of money by following the guidelines in this book, even if you don't go all the way to become truly evil." — Jakob Nielsen, author of Designing Web Usability and Mobile Usability

    "This book will give you insight into ways you have been tricked and, even better, give you the tools to persuade others either for evil or, if you really must, for good." — Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini, Principal, Nielsen Norman Group

    Chris Nodder Evil by Design

    Amazon

    Chris Nodder Evil by Design

    Approaching persuasive design from the dark side, this book melds psychology, marketing, and design concepts to show why we're susceptible to certain persuasive techniques.

  • User experience design is the discipline of creating a useful and usable Web site or application that’s easily navigated and meets the needs of the site owner and its users. There’s a lot more to successful UX design than knowing the latest Web technologies or design trends: It takes diplomacy, management skills, and business savvy. That’s where the updated edition of this important book comes in. With new information on design principles, mobile and gestural interactions, content strategy, remote research tools and more.

    Russ Unger is a user experience design and research professional in the Chicago area. He has worked with top-tier digital agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and startups. He has presented and led workshops at events like South by Southwest, Web 2.0, and UX Week, and is an occasional contributor to various online UX magazines.

    Carolyn Chandler is the experience design director for Manifest Digital, an interactive consultancy based in Chicago. She has taught design courses for DePaul University, and developed an interaction design course for the WaSP InterACT curriculum.

    Russ Unger A Project Guide to UX Design

    Amazon

    Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler A Project Guide to UX Design

    If you are a young designer entering or contemplating entering the UX field this is a canonical book.

  • What happens when you’ve built a great website or app, but no one seems to care? How do you get people to stick around long enough to see how your service might be of value? In Seductive Interaction Design, speaker and author Stephen P. Anderson takes a fresh approach to designing sites and interactions based on the stages of seduction. This beautifully designed book examines what motivates people to act.

    Stephen P. Anderson is an internationally recognized speaker and consultant based in Dallas, Texas. He created the Mental Notes card deck, a tool that's widely used by product teams to apply psychology to interaction design. Prior to venturing out on his own, Stephen spent more than a decade building and leading teams of information architects, interaction designers, and UI developers. He's designed web applications for technology startups as well as corporate clients like Nokia, Frito-Lay, Sabre Travel Network, and Chesapeake Energy.

    Stephen P. Anderson Seductive Interaction Design

    Amazon

    Stephen P. Anderson Seductive Interaction Design

    In Seductive Interaction Design, speaker and author Stephen P. Anderson takes a fresh approach to designing sites and interactions based on the stages of seduction.

  • The User Experience Team of One prescribes a range of approaches that have big impact and take less time and fewer resources than the standard lineup of UX deliverables. Whether you want to cross over into user experience or you're a seasoned practitioner trying to drag your organization forward, this book gives you tools and insight for doing more with less.

    This clearly written book shows you what works and what wastes time. It will help you become that well-tempered UX team of one who can be great while doing the impossible. --Alan Cooper, founder of design firm Cooper and author of The Inmates are Running the Asylum

    Leah Buley was instrumental in opening my eyes to a more effective approach to UX design. Her lightweight, practical, and collaborative approach not only molds a better user experience but also helps to engage and educate non-UX colleagues. --Paul Boag, host of the Boagworld Web Design Podcast

    Leah Buley The User Experience Team of One

    Amazon

    Leah Buley The User Experience Team of One

    This Design Survival Guide presents a very structured and stylized approach to web design with an entire focus on the user experience.

  • In this book, innovator Golden Krishna challenges our world of nagging, screen-based bondage, and shows how we can build a technologically advanced world without digital interfaces. In his insightful, raw, and often hilarious criticism, Golden reveals fascinating ways to think beyond screens using three principles that lead to more meaningful innovation. Whether you’re working in technology, or just wary of a gadget-filled future, you’ll be enlighted and entertained while discovering that the best interface is no interface.

    "If Silicon Valley doesn't read this book, we're all ****ed." - Doug LeMoine, Managing Director, Cooper

    “An irreverent, crazy tirade. So why should you read this book? Because irreverence is precisely what is needed today to get us out of the rut of bad, unintelligible, frustrating design. Because the book is funny, caustic, and insightful. So next time you are feeling low, just open the book to some random page and read for a few minutes. You will start smiling, laughing, and learning. A great cure for all that ails you.” -Don Norman, Design Lab, University of California

    Golden Krishna The Best Interface Is No Interface

    Amazon

    Golden Krishna The Best Interface Is No Interface

    In this amusing, smart, and brave case against our screen-based world, Golden Krishna reinforces his position as one of the world’s foremost thinkers of user experience design.

  • Design for Hackers takes apart design by "reverse-engineering" Impressionist painting, Renaissance sculpture, the Mac OS X Aqua interface, Twitter's web interface, and much more. You'll learn about color theory, typography, proportions, and design principles. This theoretical advice is mixed with concrete, actionable advice such as suggestions for color scheme tools, and a chart of "all of the fonts you'll ever need" By the end of the book, you'll be seeing design through new eyes.

    "If you want to learn to create great design yourself...there simply is no way to do so with lists of rules. Instead, I want to provide you with a new set of eyes through which you can see the world anew."
    -David Kadavy

    "David Kadavy is the Malcom Gladwell of web design"
    -Noah Kagan, Founder, AppSumo.com

    "clear yet engaging and comprehensive"
    -Vitaly Friedman, Smashing Magazine

    David Kadavy Design for Hackers

    Amazon

    David Kadavy Design for Hackers

    David Kadavy uses this "reverse-engineering" process in Design for Hackers to deconstruct classical design principles and techniques for web designers.

  • Smashing Magazine is the world′s most popular resource for web designers and developers and with this book the authors provide the ideal resource for mastering User Experience Design (UX). The authors provide an overview of UX and User Centred Design and examine in detail sixteen of the most common UX design and research tools and techniques for your web projects.

    Everything You Need to Plan, Research, and Design Great User Experiences

    UX design is one of the hottest growth areas on the web. The demand for good UX practitioners has never been greater. A great user experience is now recognized as a fundamental quality of successful digital products. So how do you design great user experiences if you don’t have a UX expert on hand to help you? What are the key tools and techniques every UX specialist should have at their disposal? Smashing UX Design is a practical reference manual for UXers, designers, developers, and product managers to refer to as the UX expert on their bookshelf.

    Jesmond Allen Smashing UX Design

    Amazon

    Jesmond Allen and James Chudley Smashing UX Design

    Smashing UX Design provides web designers and developers with all the tools, techniques, and practical, hands-on guidance they need to make their lives easier.

  • User experience (UX) strategy requires a careful blend of business strategy and UX design, but until now, there hasn’t been an easy-to-apply framework for executing it. This hands-on guide introduces lightweight strategy tools and techniques to help you and your team craft innovative multi-device products that people want to use. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, UX/UI designer, product manager, or part of an intrapreneurial team, this book teaches simple-to-advanced strategies that you can use in your work right away.

    For over 25 years Jaime Levy has been a pioneer in the creation of innovative digital products and services distributed on disk media, mobile devices, the Web and iTV. Currently she runs a User Experience Strategy and Design consultancy based in Los Angeles. Her practice caters to startups and enterprises that are open to practicing "lean" principles for transforming their business concepts into sustainable and scalable online solutions.

    Jaime Levy UX Strategy

    Amazon

    Jaime Levy UX Strategy

    This UX Strategy book stands out in the UX field as a much-needed and very practically-minded bridging of business strategy and UX design.

Your UX design education is never complete. So call off your search and get into the UX mindset with these 15 UX Design books mentioned here. Pick a book and put your newly found UX skills to work.

Have I missed your favourite book off my list? Remind me about it in the comments!

This post was inspired by a project on Codrops about a realistic looking 3D book showcase with some interactivity using CSS 3D transforms.

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