5 Great Design Books for Your UX Library

Starting a UX library in your studio? Here’s a list of some of my favorite UX books and a few key takeaways. Enjoy!

A Project Guide to UX Design

By Carolyn Chandler, Russ Unger

There are a ton of well-reviewed books and readers for the general UX practitioner available. However, this one still stands out on my shelf as a great primer to get your head around UX for most projects. The project guide illustrates how UX Design connects multiple design disciplines including business strategy, research, interaction design, and engineering.

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Now, Discover Your Strengths

By Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton

I first learned of this book listening to a video blog from UX designer, Sarah Doody. The book is a well researched albeit prescriptive method devised to make you aware of your innate professional talents and intuitions and learn how to best harness them in the workplace. Arguably, It's most sustainable to build your career around your natural superpowers and curiosities above pure ambition and will. Check out this book and accompanying assessment (worth it) and you might be enlightened.

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Lean UX

By Jeff Gothelf

An extension to the canonical book, The Lean Startup, Lean UX provides an ultra-concise, principled overview of UX Design’s role in agile projects. It also provides thoughtful, sustainable action steps for integrating the lean approach to organizations of various shapes and sizes.

Few of my favorite takeaways:

  • Progress = outcomes, not output.

  • Create the first version of the thing rather than spending half the day debating its merits in a conference room.

  • Emphasize learning first and scaling second.

  • Figure out what you’re trying to learn, and the fastest way you can learn it.

  • Created a shared understanding of design problems and solutions.

  • Collaborate: creating together increases the design IQ of the entire team.

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Everybody Writes

By Ann Handley

The more screens I design, the more I appreciate the value of written communication as a digital designer’s skillset. Understanding the people who use the product your designing should include comprehending how to communicate with them naturally, contextually and with relevance to their needs through the business lens. This book will help you write with intention and consistency for the web and in business communication in general. I picked up this book up on a whim and am so glad I did. 

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Universal Methods of Design

By Bella Martin, Bruce M. Hanington

100 design techniques to try when approaching a design challenge. Concise summary of each method and good perspective on usage.

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Tangible books may be a slowly dying technology as digital formats take over. Thankfully, all of these titles are available in digital format. Either way you prefer to read, I suggest taking notes in the margins of books or on sticky notes. And once you’ve completed any great book, try synthesizing your notes to help a friend or colleague understand a few of the most valuable highlights. Educating someone else is a great way to retain newly gathered information.

Happy Reading!