“There is no end to education.” — Jiddu Krishnamurthy
What I am constantly asked about in client meetings, or meet-ups with fellow designers is how I stay up to date and keep improving my design skills. I firmly believe that there is always room for improvement and a great way to stay inspired is by reading books. And there are tons of very well written books about UX Design, out there, waiting for you to grab them and discover new techniques, new perspectives and add value to your design process.
Picking only 5 great books was no mean feat, but I managed to shortlist these because of their evergreen nature. These books cover topics such as mapping real life experiences with online behaviour, UX in the things around us, methods and techniques for quicker and efficient design processes in the workplace and last but not the least, the biases and ethical blunders that are a by-product of developing these great technical products.
Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability – Steve Krug
If there is one UX book I keep going back to, it has to be this one. Crisp (can be read in a plane ride, like the author says) and laid out with multiple examples and anecdotes, this book is a joy to dive into! A go-to read when it comes to understanding and implementing usability principles, it talks about how users navigate the web, and what their reading pattern is like, online. The parallels drawn between online behaviour and real life behaviour make you realise that you have to design keeping multiple user-personas in mind.
Grab your copy online – Don’t Make Me Think
The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition by Don Norman
If there is a book that changed how people viewed ‘UX Design’, it is this. It teaches you that design is everywhere – from a zip to a revolving door to your favourite E-Commerce website! And that revelation makes you realise how a simple design solution can bring about a big change in the lives of its users. The famous example of the ‘Norman Door’ that every design school teaches us about, comes from this book. To those who are unaware, it is an example of bad design – where you pull a door instead of pushing it. Haven’t most of us experienced that? There are many more real life examples in the book, which will inspire you to be better as a designer – to really observe your surroundings and fellow humans.
Grab your copy online – The Design of Everyday Things
Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience – Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden
In this book, the authors have explained in detail about what the term ‘Lean UX’ means and how you can incorporate this approach in your work culture for faster and more efficient results in UX design related tasks. It is inspired theories of Lean and Agile development, which is is based on the approach of iterative cycles – experimenting with design ideas and concepts, validation using real users and iterating the design based on the feedback and learnings. Based on close collaboration with other product team members, it provides insights into building a highly efficient team that follows the motto – Design. Test. Iterate.
Grab your copy online –Lean UX
Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Brad Kowitz
This book talks about a 5 day step by step technique to solve problems and testing out new ideas. It is applicable to all work cultures – startups to large organizations. Penned by three partners at Google Ventures, the Sprint is a unique, five day process that has helped more than a hundred companies till date. The process is designed in a way that you move from concept to prototyping to the final decision within five days, helping you save hours of efforts and funds. This one is a must read for anyone in a fast-growing organization.
Grab your copy online – Sprint
Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
Today, even the most basic daily activities are performed online – shopping for groceries, paying bills, etc. While it has definitely helped make the lives of people a lot easier, it has also opened up the web and other tech platforms to biases, ethical blunders and blind spots. Examples of these biases include sign up forms not recognising a gender other than male or female, the title ‘Doctor’ being considered as male, racial biases on tracking apps used by law enforcement organisations, Social media platforms showing you ‘happy memories’ of loved ones who are no more, racial and gender biases in the workplace, etc. Sara Wachter-Boettcher grabs the bull by the horns and demystifies this dark reality of the tech industry. A great commentary that is bound to make you think about the design decisions you make while designing tech products, truly keeping humans at the centre.
Grab your copy online – Technically Wrong