As the realm of user experience (UX) design progresses, it is crucial to be actively up-to-date with emerging trends, best practices, and techniques.
Whether a seasoned UX designer or an initiate, it is worth considering immersing oneself in insightful books empowering the continual expansion of knowledge and honing skills.
Offering personal and professional perceptions, I present to you a list of 15 Must-Read UX Design Books in 2023.
Each of these unrivalled books covering an array of topics such as user research, design thinking, interaction design, and others, presents a unique perspective and inspiration.
So, brew a hot cup of coffee and prepare for a magnific dive into the top UX designer books of the year.
- 7 Best UX Courses To Follow In 2023
- 7+ Best UX Writer Courses To Consider In 2023
- What Is User Experience (UX) Design? Everything You Need To Know
What is the must-read book for UX design?
As the UX design field is continuously evolving, it’s tricky to name one “must-read” book.
Nevertheless, I’ve hand-picked 15 must-read UX design books in 2023 that tackle diverse UX topics and receive high recommendations from industry experts.
If you’re eager to enrich your knowledge and sharpen your skills as a UX designer, you’re in the right place: check out our exclusive list of the best UX designer books of the year.
1. The Design of Everyday Things
Best UX designer book overall (Editor’s choice)
“The Design of Everyday Things” is a book on user-centred design by Don Norman, a cognitive scientist, and web usability engineer, is truly a classic!
This book was originally published back in 1988 but has been updated several times to keep pace with changing technology and design trends.
Don Norman expertly delves into how a design project influences daily life in a relatable way, from doors and light switches to computer interfaces and complex machinery.
He argues that intuitive and user-friendly designs are key to success, providing a framework that is essential for creating products that meet the needs and desires of users.
With its powerful insights and real-world examples, “The Design of Everyday Things” is a must-read for engineers, experienced designers, and anyone passionate about creating products that are both functional and delightful to use.
2. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
Best UX research and design book
Susan Weinschenk’s book delves into the intricacies of user manners and their impact on mindful design choices.
Drawing upon varied scientific fields such as neuroscience, psychology, and behavioural economics, Weinschenk offers down-to-earth insights into how people interpret, feel, and interact with the world around them.
Encompassing a broad scope of principles, including aspects such as motivation, decision-making, perception, and memory, the book brings forth practical examples of how to implement these universal principles when designing digital products like apps and websites.
This guide’s affable writing flair and pragmatic recommendations make it an invaluable read for designers and anybody keen on developing products that strike a chord with users.
3. The Elements of User Experience
Best for learning usability testing
This book by Jesse James Garrett is a one-of-a-kind book that presents an all-inclusive framework for creating user-centred digital products.
The author delves into five key stages of the design technique, namely strategy, scope, structure, skeleton, and surface, and provides invaluable insights on how to manufacture products that cater not only to user requirements but also to business needs.
Moreover, the author chips in with examples from actual projects, rendering the material relatable and pragmatic.
It is an unmissable read for anyone with a stake in the realistic conception and execution of digital products, from UX designers to product managers and developers.
4. Don’t Make Me Think
Best for an in-depth understanding of usability in web design
“Don’t Make Me Think” is a renowned book written by Steve Krug which highlights the importance of usability in web design.
With a conversational yet professional tone, Steve Krug charmingly combines humour with useful advice that resonates with readers.
He advocates for easy navigation on websites so that users can be served efficiently while avoiding any form of confusion, and suggests clear labels and visual guides to elevate user experience.
Additionally, he places much emphasis on the importance of user testing and shares amusing examples of how it can detect and solve usability issues.
This book has gained popularity over time and remains an unparalleled resource for web developers and designers – that’s why I have a copy on my desk.
5. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
Best for learning human behaviour
Nir Eyal’s book presents an exceptional opportunity for entrepreneurs and product designers to tap into the psychology underpinning the creation of habit-forming products.
Eyal’s remarkable insight drawn from behavioural psychology and neuroscience provides readers with a framework for creating products that keep tech products customers continuously coming back.
Reading the book takes you through the “Hook Model”, a four-stage process that delivers user experience in the trigger, action, variable reward, and investment.
“Hooked” combines real-world case studies from companies that have effectively implemented the Hook Model with practical tips to offer a deep understanding of the psychology behind user conduct.
If you want to gain unique and engaging expertise in creating first-class products, “Hooked” is an ultimate resource that you cannot afford to miss.
6. The User Experience Team of One
Best for learning UX design in real life
Leah Buley’s book is a comprehensive resource perfect for solo UX designers working in small organizations.
With a focus on various challenges faced by solo designers, the book provides practical guidance for everything from user research and designing effective user experiences, to communicating with stakeholders when working alone.
Buley emphasizes the importance of building a strong knowledge foundation in research and design principles, and shares tips for managing design projects effectively.
This brilliant book also includes engaging case studies and examples of successful solo UX designer projects, as well as advice on how to advocate for user-centred design practices within an organization.
If you’re a solo UX Designer (as I was for a long time) looking to deliver high-quality user experiences and establish yourself as a key player in your organization, then this book is a must-read!
7. Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design
Best for a common SENSE approach to web usability
Another book in my library: “Designing Interfaces” is a must-read book by acclaimed author Jenifer Tidwell, that provides an invaluable guide to creating successful user interfaces.
The book employs design patterns to tackle recurring user interface design problems, with over 100 patterns for various interfaces.
Tidwell delves into a plethora of topics, ranging from basic interface elements and layouts to navigating and displaying complex data.
The book also includes compelling examples and case studies of immaculate interface designs that will inspire product designers.
Moreover, this book offers practical tips and guidance for perfecting your designs and achieving good usability – this is a classic reference manual essential for designers seeking to refine the usability and efficacy of their interfaces.
8. Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience
Best for practical techniques
Lean UX delves into the application of principles to the world of user experience design.
Written by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, the book stresses the significance of continuous iteration and feedback in the design process and provides advice on how to integrate these principles into the UX design process and workflows.
The authors explore a host of vital topics, from conducting user research and prototyping to working collaboratively in cross-functional units.
The book is also supplemented with case studies and examples of successful lean UX designer projects, as well as tips on promoting user-centred design practices in the organization.
This awesome book is an invaluable guide for design professionals and product managers seeking to create result-oriented, user-centric products in today’s fast-moving, changing landscape.
9. Change by Design: how design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation
Best for interaction designers
Another critically-acclaimed book by the esteemed Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO.
Cogently structured and excellently presented, this book presents the role of design thinking in driving innovation and achieving transformative change within an organization.
The main premise of the book is that design thinking, a people-centric common sense approach to web platforms that stresses empathy, collaboration, and experimentation, can be employed to solve intricate challenges across a broad range of industries.
Tim Brown highlights a number of successful design-driven enterprises to illustrate his point and also provides hands-on guidance on using design thinking principles to substantiate innovation and change.
If you’re a project manager, leader, or innovator yearning to develop a culture of design thinking within your organization and transform the same, “Change by Design” is a unique and engaging resource that would benefit you greatly.
10. Writing Is Designing: Words and the User Experience
Best for UX writing
This interesting book by Michael J. Metts and Andy Welfle shifts the paradigm that writing is a critical aspect of a UX project.
Metts and Welfle argue that designers should approach writing style with the same level of intention and rigour as they approach other design elements to create effective user experiences.
This book provides practical guidance on how to write user-focused, action-oriented content that satisfies the objectives of users and the business.
It also covers topics such as content strategy, voice and tone, and accessibility as they relate to designing content for enhanced user experiences.
As a valuable resource, “Writing Is Designing” would benefit you to become a better UX designer, writer, and content strategist, especially if you’re seeking to create user-centred content that supports the overall user experience.
11. Designing Products People Love: how great designers create successful products
Best for universal principles of product management
Scott Hurff authored “Designing Products People Love” which delves into the design procedure of prosperous products.
The book argues that crafting exceptional products necessitates a thorough grasp of user needs, behaviours, and emotions.
Furthermore, it provides practical guidance on identifying such needs and preferences, creating user-focused designs, and prototyping them through iteration and testing.
The book additionally covers subjects like product strategy, user research methodologies, and collaborative team efforts.
In my honest opinion, “Designing Products People Love” is a valuable resource for designers and product managers seeking to create thriving products that connect with users and have a positive impact on business objectives.
12. Bottlenecks: Aligning UX Design with User Psychology
Best for the learning journey of the UX process
Bottlenecks by David C. Evans is another must-read book for UX designers who want to improve their understanding of how human psychology impacts the design procedure.
I personally love it, because it explores the concept of “bottlenecks,” which are points of friction or frustration that users encounter when interacting with a product or service.
By identifying and addressing bottlenecks, designers can create more effective and engaging user experiences.
The book covers a wide range of topics related to user psychology, including cognitive load, decision-making, attention, memory, and emotion.
It provides valuable advice and techniques for designing products and services that align with users’ mental models and cognitive processes.
Overall, “Bottlenecks” is an essential resource for UX designers who want to create more user-centred and effective designs, so add it to your library asap!
13. Microcopy: The Complete Guide
Best for UX writers
I read this book several times, and that’s why it’s on this list: Microcopy by Kinneret Yifrah is an unparalleled guide to crafting compelling microcopy for products and services.
Have you ever considered the small snippets of text that dot a user interface – button labels, form field instructions, and error messages? They can make or break a user’s experience.
This comprehensive guide covers it all, from the importance of microcopy in the overall user journey to best practices for writing crisp and concise copy that engages users.
It even includes guidance on evaluating the impact and effectiveness of microcopy.
Collaborating with other stakeholders can be challenging, but this book provides tips and advice on how to make the process seamless.
Whether you’re a UX writer, designer, or involved in creating products and services, this book is an invaluable resource full of actionable insights.
14. A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making
Best for practical examples
“A Project Guide to UX Design” by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler is a distinctive and engaging guidebook for UX designers, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned professional.
This comprehensive book offers an informative and personal step-by-step approach to the UX design technique.
From crafting user personas to designing wireframes and testing usability, the authors provide an exceptional guide filled with real-world examples and case studies to demonstrate how the various design principles can be applied.
The book covers essential topics, including project management, collaboration, and communication skills that are crucial for successful UX designer projects.
Whether you work solo or on a large design team, this book is another must-have that will help you create user-centered designs that meet users’ and clients’ needs.
15. About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design
Best for most UX designers
The list goes on with “About Face“, authored by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, and David Cronin, a must-read for those involved in interaction design.
It presents a comprehensive guide to the entire interaction design procedure — ranging from understanding user needs and personas to developing interfaces and usability testing.
The authors prioritize designing for user behavior while providing practical advice for effective interactions, hence increasing user engagement rates.
The book takes a deep dive into advanced topics such as social interaction design and creating for complex applications and spans across different devices such as smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers.
With its clear and personal approach, enriched with practical examples and case studies, “About Face” proves to be the perfect handbook for both beginners and professional designers alike.
16. Smashing UX Design: Foundations for Designing
Best for cognitive psychology
Smashing UX Design by Jesmond Allen and James Chudley stands out as a comprehensive guidebook to UX design, providing actionable insights for crafting effective and engaging user experiences.
Ranging from user research and information architecture to prototyping and testing, the authors cover every aspect of the UX professional process, backed by their wealth of examples and case studies.
Recognizing the significance of comprehending users’ needs and behavior, Allen and Chudley offer practical advice and best practices.
Advanced topics like designing for mobile devices, social media, and e-commerce are also strategically covered.
This is an amazing book, I can guarantee that! Whether you are a novice or an expert professional, “Smashing UX Design” will equip you with all the necessary UX design skills required.
How do I start studying UX?
So, you want to get into UX? That’s great! There are loads of ways to get started.
First things first, let’s talk about the fundamentals of UX design – user research, information architecture, interaction, and visual design.
You can get a basic understanding of these concepts by reading books, prowling the endless articles and blogs on UX design, or taking an online crash course.
Next, gain practical experience by working on projects.
You can work independently or as part of a team, but it’s important to create a portfolio demonstrating your skills and experience.
Furthermore, network with other UX professionals to gain insights and knowledge about the industry: don’t be shy, attend conferences, meetups, and workshops to connect with other designers and learn about the latest trends and best practices in the field.
The benefits of reading books on UX
If you’re looking to shore up your UX designer knowledge, books should definitely be on your radar.
From complete industry novices to veteran designers, there’s a wealth of helpful hints and expert insights to be found.
Trust me when I say these books are packed with everything from solid principles and methodology to the latest and greatest in user experience practice.
One key bonus is the chance to dive into the real world through case studies and examples, giving you a clear perspective on what principles and methods look like in action.
And, when it comes to the pearls of wisdom dished out by top UX pros, these reads are packed with practical advice to help make your designs soar.
With these books as an essential part of your toolkit, your UX skills – and career prospects – can only improve.
- 7 Best UX Courses To Follow In 2023
- 7+ Best UX Writer Courses To Consider In 2023
- What Is User Experience (UX) Design? Everything You Need To Know
UX design is an ever-changing field, and staying informed with the most recent trends and practices is imperative for achieving success.
So, to help keep you up-to-date, I hope this list of must-read UX books for 2023 will give you some inspiration.
As I said in this in-depth article, this handpicked selection of 15+ ux books delves into a range of UX topics, from the fundamentals to advanced techniques for crafting exceptional user experiences.
Start learning and elevating your UX design game today by grabbing one or more of these unique and insightful books!