The UX-mas reading list

The holidays. You know, those few days in late December when you’re forced to take a break from your laptop screen to play outdated board games and endure lengthy dinners with your extended family.

But amid the festivities, sometimes you just need a bit of time for yourself. So during those few precious hours while everybody else is sleeping peacefully in front of the television, why not sneak off and pick up a good old book?

For UX designers, product managers, and startup enthusiasts alike, these are the perfect moments to dip into those non-fiction reads that everyone at work talks about, but you’ve never found the time to start.

So, we asked our talented team of UX designers for the books that inspired them. Buy them as gifts, read them by the fire, or keep them on your desk long after the festivities have ended. Here’s the ultimate UX-mas reading list.

1. The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman

Ever wondered why you just can’t figure out how to turn the light on in your bathroom, or find the ‘power’ button on your vacuum? Well, this book is a real eye opener. Don Norman explains the importance of user-centered product design, helping you to design with science in mind.

2. UX Research, Brad Nunnally & David Farkas

This is one to keep on your desk. Not least because of it’s neatly designed cover, but because it’s a hands-on guide to design research that you can dip into as you need. The book is split into four main chapters, each with an exercise at the end to help you apply what you’ve learned.

3. Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug

As one of the best-loved books about usability, you’ll probably struggle to find anyone working in web design who hasn’t read it. And as the title suggests, Steve Krug keeps things witty, wry, and entertaining.

4. Smashing UX Design, Jesmond Allen and James Chudley

A true classic in which the authors share what they’ve learned over their 30 collective years working in UX design. The book even includes checklists to help you decide on the right UX tools and techniques for any given job. Guaranteed to be your go-to reference manual, this book is another one you’ll want to keep on your desk for years to come.

5. Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis, Jon Kolko

Jon Kolko’s book is a guide to harnessing the power of design to solve global problems. Kolko presents the idea of “design synthesis” in a way that’s useful to practicing designers. This read is a real game-changer, and sure to get you thinking about design on a larger scale.

6. Branded Interactions: Creating the Digital Experience, Marco Spies

An interesting read for anyone interested in creating digital brand design. Marco Spies’ book goes beyond the idea of corporate websites, investigating how to design apps and interactive billboards that are in line with your brand strategy. Full of visuals and real-world use cases, this is one to pick up whenever you’re in need of inspiration.

7. Just Enough Research, Erika Hall

Ask better questions. It’s one of those rather ambiguous phrases that you hear regularly tossed around the office. Luckily, co-founder of Mule Design Erika Hall breaks it down for us in her aptly titled guide to design research. This book will teach you how to pose effective questions, think critically about your findings, and get you designing with living, breathing people in mind.

8. About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design, Alan Cooper

Hands-on and practical, this book is a key player when it comes to interaction design. Already on it’s fourth edition, the book is continually updated to keep up with modern interfaces such as smartphones and tablets.

9. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, Nir Eyal

Is there a reason why certain products are so addictive? Nir Eyal provides practical information on how to create user habits that stick, and ensure that your customers just keep on coming back. Based on his own research, Eyal claims that he wrote the book that he wished he’d been able to read.

We interviewed Nir Eyal to get the inside scoop. Read his insights on tech habits and sushi rules here.

Need something to read while you wait for your new books to arrive? Get up to speed on the next evolution of UX—the human experience.