UX Bookshelf

In the right sidebar of my blog I promote my UX Bookshelf. I use Amazon Associates just to get the smallest kickback (I’ve never actually made any money with this, but I’d like to!). The other day I noticed that they have a new carousel widget (released in April) that allows you to display up to 10 Amazon products in 3D. I’ve replaced my old widget with this one. What do you think?

These 10 books are what I consider the must-haves for any user experience designer. There are certainly more than 10 amazing books on the topic, many of which I own, but the widget forced me to think about which ones are absolute essentials.

If you create digital products, you have a responsibility to make them easy to use. Honestly, it’s mostly common sense; it’s just not common practice. These books will teach you how to design products that are useful, usable and desirable. Do yourself a favor and read these if you haven’t already. You don’t want to end up in the “Pain” category of this blog, do you?

Top 10 (in no particular order)

  1. Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning by Dan Brown
  2. Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design by Bill Buxton
  3. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition by Steve Krug
  4. About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, and David Cronin
  5. Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World: Adaptive Path on Design (Adaptive Path) by Peter Merholz, Todd Wilkens, Brandon Schauer, and David Verba
  6. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
  7. Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices by Dan Saffer
  8. Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter
  9. Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior by Indi Young
  10. The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web by Jesse James Garrett

If I had more room I also would have included…

  1. Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design by Jenifer Tidwell
  2. Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Don Norman
  3. Designing Visual Interfaces: Communication Oriented Techniques by Kevin Mullet
  4. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites (the Polar Bear book) by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville
  5. Usability Engineering by Jakob Nielsen
  6. The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity by Alan Cooper
  7. Set Phasers on Stun: And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error by S. M. Casey

What’s on your list? What do you think I missed? Any of these you absolutely hate or find useless?

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  1. says

    Matthew, I find it so interesting that our shelves are almost completely different (except for Designing Visual Interfaces, Don’t Make Me Think, and Contextual Design — which I lent to someone years ago and never got back) when we do such similar work. I’ll definitely dig into some of the ones you have here. Do you have others at home? Is there a difference between the books you display and the ones you read?

  2. says

    No, those are all my UX-related books. And I’ve read most of them, so I keep them at work mostly as reference material.

    I’ve read a couple of the ones on your list. Never have been impressed with Cooper’s stuff.

  3. says

    I try to keep my work bookshelf simple since I only have so much room available…

    Usability Inspection Methods (Nielsen/Mack)
    Prioritizing Web Usability (Nielsen/Loranger)
    Contextual Design (Beyer/Holtzblatt)
    The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Tufte)
    Writing Software Documentation (Barker)
    Sketching User Experiences (Buxton)
    Design Basics Index (Krause)

    I supplement these books with volumes and CDs of past CHI conference proceedings and tutorials. If I was smart, I would have kept the thousands of pounds of art, design, and history textbooks from art school. I’m kicking myself now.

  4. Jen McGinn says

    One of my very favorites, #9 on Lou's list, is “Universal Principles of Design; 100 ways to enhance usability, influenece perception, increase appeal make better design decisions, and teach through design” by Lidwell, Holden, and Butler.


  1. […] In July I posted the 10 books on my UX bookshelf. […]

  2. […] “If you create digital products, you have a responsibility to make them easy to use.” – Whitney Hess […]

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