Book reviews

Books in the list below are clustered by author and series, then roughly ordered by which should be read first by someone completely new to UX design.

Don't Make Me Think
Don’t Make Me Think
a concise book about the basic principles of usability
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people who know nothing about UX and want a quick overview
Full review
A Project Guide to UX Design
A Project Guide to UX Design
a guidebook of best-practices for the business side of UX
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in UX professionally
Full review
The Elements of User Experience
The Elements of User Experience
a theoretical foundation of the layers needed to create a user-friendly product
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking a grounding in how the elements of UX fit together
Full review
Universal Principles of Design
Universal Principles of Design
summaries of principles with concrete visual examples and references to seminal works
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in design
Full review
100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People
100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People
a colorful, concise book about how psychology applies to design
5 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone who knows how people think
and anyone who doesn’t know how people think
Full review
100 More Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People
100 More Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People
a hastily-compiled collection of design ideas, some based in research
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people who liked the 100 Things book
Full review
Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences
Seductive Interaction Design:
Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences

a concrete book tying psychological principles to emotional design
5 of 5 stars
I recommend for all interaction designers
Full review
Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience
Lean UX:
Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience

a practical guidebook to design collaboratively with a development team
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for designers seeking buy-in from developers
Full review
Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research
Validating Product Ideas
Through Lean User Research

a guidebook to key methods for answering questions about users
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone setting up a study of users
Full review
The Moderator's Survival Guide: Handling Common, Tricky, and Sticky Situations in User Research
The Moderator’s Survival Guide:
Handling Common, Tricky, and Sticky Situations in User Research

a handbook for managing situations in user research
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for both novice and expert user researchers
Full review
The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide
The User Experience Team of One:
A Research and Design Survival Guide

a playbook of lightweight, collaborative design methods
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people seeking to involve a wider team in UX work
Full review
Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules
Designing with the Mind in Mind:
Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules

an introductory book presenting cognitive psychology as a basis of interface design
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone wanting an introductory overview of interaction design
Full review
Designing Products People Love: How Great Designers Create Successful Products
Designing Products People Love:
How Great Designers Create Successful Products

an overview of product creation from research to launch
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking an overview of product design
Full review
Improving the User Experience Through Practical Data Analytics: Gain Meaningful Insight and Increase Your Bottom Line
Improving the User Experience Through Practical Data Analytics
an introductory statistics textbook contextualized for UX research
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for any user researcher interested in statistically validating their research
Full review
The Design of Everyday Things
The Design of Everyday Things
a ranting textbook of reasons you shouldn’t prioritize aesthetics over usability
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people who think design means “making things pretty”
Full review
Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things
Emotional Design:
Why we love (or hate) everyday things

a hackneyed consideration of emotion in design
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for people who haven’t read much other design literature
Full review
HTML5 for Web Designers
HTML5 for Web Designers
a brief, witty book about the evolution of HTML5 with suggestions
about adapting to use several of its main features
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for web designers new to HTML5, probably linguists too
Full review
CSS3 for Web Designers
CSS3 for Web Designers
a repetitive repetitive explication of how to use some basic features of CSS3
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for masochists and people completely new to CSS3
Full review
The Elements of Content Strategy
The Elements of Content Strategy
a short dry book about how to manage electronic content
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for people looking to learn more about what a content strategist does
Full review
Responsive Web Design
Responsive Web Design
a clever and thoughtful explanation of a responsive design and development philosophy
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in web design and development
Full review
Designing for Emotion
Designing for Emotion
a concise collection of case studies showing how scientific and psychological principles influence emotion in web design
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone who makes websites or designs things
Full review
Mobile First
Mobile First
a concrete factual book that states the obvious
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for designers who want to brainstorm about the mobile side of their current project
Full review
Design is a Job
Design is a Job
a sincere forthright book about the business of design
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone who works in a profession hired by contract
Full review
Content Strategy for Mobile
Content Strategy for Mobile
a short book about how to produce content regardless of context
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone involved with content strategy
Full review
Just Enough Research
Just Enough Research
a primer of the key types of design research
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone unfamiliar with design research
Full review
Sass for Web Designers
Sass for Web Designers
a lightweight book about installing and using Sass
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for people who haven’t already read the Sass or LESS website?
Full review
Search Patterns: Design for Discovery
Search Patterns:
Design for Discovery

bombast about how search can expand beyond the search box
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people interested in redefining search
Full review
Microinteractions: Designing with Details
Microinteractions:
Designing with Details

a little book about little designs
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people trying to add elegance to design details
Full review
Thinking with Type
Thinking with Type
a visual, demonstrative book about the history and principles of typography
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone with an interest in typography
Full review
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
a visual argument for packing as much information as possible into a limited space
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in information visualization
Full review
Beautiful Evidence
Beautiful Evidence
a book about presenting an argument visually
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people interested in conveying information artistically
Full review
Visual Explanations
Visual Explanations
a visual book about pictures of verbs
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for people who really like books by Edward Tufte
Full review
Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rule-breakers, and Changemakers
Gamestorming:
A Playbook for Innovators, Rule-breakers, and Changemakers

a list of many obvious and a few unusual methods of brainstorming
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone scheduling a meeting to brainstorm
Full review
UX Strategy
UX Strategy:
How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want

a book about the crossover between UX and business strategy
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for business people wanting to know more about UX
Full review
Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction
Make It So:
Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction

interaction designers musing about scifi interfaces
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for scifi buffs with an interest in design
Full review
Designing Web Usability
Designing Web Usability
an outdated book showing the field of usability in 1999 with several predictions for the future
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people interested in learning about usability from a historic standpoint.
Full review
Interactive Design: An Introduction to the Theory and Application of User-centered Design
Interactive Design:
An Introduction to the Theory and Application of User-centered Design

a superficial gloss of the basic components of user-centered design
1 of 5 stars
I recommend for someone who knows absolutely nothing about user-centered design and wants to continue to know very little.
Full review
Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual
Design Elements:
A Graphic Style Manual

a dry, abstract picture book
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for people wanting to explore the balance of static and dynamic visual design on their current project.
Full review
User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product
User Story Mapping:
Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product

a handbook of a process for product development
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for product developers seeking to collaborate to understand the scope of a feature
Full review
Meggs' History of Graphic Design, Fourth Edition
Meggs’ History of Graphic Design
a history of the lives and works of past designers
1 of 5 stars
I recommend for people wanting to know about past designers’ personal lives
Full review
Designing Interfaces, 2nd edition
Designing Interfaces, 2nd edition
a list of patterns, providing no evidence, saying nothing
1 of 5 stars
I recommend for no one
Full review
100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design
100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design
a perfunctory overview of graphic design history
1 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking coffee-table eye candy
Full review
Implementing Responsive Design: Building Sites for an Anywhere, Everywhere Web
Implementing Responsive Design:
Building Sites for an Anywhere, Everywhere Web

an eclectic, implementation-focused collection of information about responsive design
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for people learning front-end development??
Full review


Psychology

While not strictly-speaking about UX, psychology books can nevertheless help to understand the user’s behavior. You may find the following of interest.

Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions
Sources of Power:
How People Make Decisions

a presentation of models derived from research
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested the academic side of decision-making
Full review
How We Decide
How We Decide
a collection of biographies and psychology studies that explain decision making
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in how decisions are made
Full review
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Drive:
The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

an argument for the use of intrinsic motivation
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in methods of motivation
Full review
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Predictably Irrational:
The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

a recounting of the authors own studies on subconscious influences
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone who wants a first-hand account of cognitive psychology
Full review
Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)
Priceless:
The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)

a collection of studies and biographical snippets showing the arbitrariness of monetary values
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in prospect theory (economics with psychology)
Full review
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
Nudge:
Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

an examination of libertarian paternalism (guiding, not forcing, decisions)
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in choice architecture
Full review
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
The Tipping Point:
How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

an examination of the factors that cause something to go viral
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking to cause a large change
Full Review
This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking
This Will Make You Smarter:
New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking

a collection of short essays about modern Shorthand Abstractions
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone wanting to dip into new ways of thinking
Full Review
You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself
You Are Not So Smart:
Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself

a collection of ways in which we don’t think the way we think that we think
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people hoping to learn more about ways in which we are all irrational
Full review


Game Design

Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
Rules of Play:
Game Design Fundamentals

a dry, yet thorough, book establishing game design as a field of its own
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking a general introduction to game design
Full review
The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses
The Art of Game Design:
A Book of Lenses

a thorough yet largely obvious overview of game design
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking a derivative introduction to game design
Full review
A Theory of Fun for Game Design
A Theory of Fun for Game Design
a whimsical, illustrated manifesto for games
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone wondering how to create fun
Full review
Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
Reality Is Broken:
Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

an inspiring book about how games can be designed for social good
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in game design
Full review
The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game
The Multiplayer Classroom:
Designing Coursework as a Game

case studies about turning a classroom into a game
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for educators and educational designers
Full review
For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business
For the Win:
How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business

an self-contradictory airport book about gamification
1 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking a superficial gloss of gamification
Full review
The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education
The Gamification of Learning and Instruction:
Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education

a sloppily written but reasonably well researched book about gamification
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking an overview of research related to gamification
Full review

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