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Best Product Design Books (According to Our Survey)
UX Tips

Published on January 11, 2024

Best Product Design Books (According to Our Survey)

Get ready to explore the world of product design! We reached out to specialists in the field and gathered their top book recommendations. In this article, you'll find their handpicked list of the top 20 product design books for 2024. Your next inspiring read awaits!

Stay current in 2024 with our top 20 product design book picks, written and recommended by experts in the field. We believe they’ll be great additions to your reading list!

Table of contents

Recommended Books for Product Designers

Here are the books that have made a significant impact on the product design community. This selection offers a mix of educational, engaging, and thought-provoking content, perfectly suited for product designers looking to expand their knowledge and sharpen their skills.

  1. The User Experience Team of One 
  2. About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design 
  3. The Design of Everyday Things 
  4. Don’t Make Me Think 
  5. Designing Interfaces 
  6. The Elements of User Experience 
  7. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People 
  8. Hooked 
  9. Universal Principles of Design 
  10. Smashing UX Design

🐝 Note: Each book in our list has been given a normalized score out of 10, simplifying the process of comparison and selection for you. This scoring system is based on our survey of the UX community. You can learn more about the survey and its methodology here.

Top rated and most widely known Product design books

We’ve created a summary featuring the top five “most recommended books” according to our survey. In addition, a “best known books” section is included, showcasing titles that product designers widely recognized.

Top-rated-books-and-most-widely-known-books

Books by Expertise

This section organizes book recommendations based on the experience levels of our survey participants. For those new to the field or with years of experience, we have selected three books per experience level, as recommended by individuals with corresponding expertise. The aim is to assist you in developing your skills and advancing in your career.

Top-3-Books-by-Expertise

🐝 Tip: If you’re looking to continue your education in UX and have already read all the recommended books, why not attend conferences or workshops? They’re excellent for expanding your knowledge. Read our article, “Best UX Conferences in 2024,” to find and register for an upcoming event.

Recommended Book Selection

#1 The User Experience Team of One  

The User Experience Team of One

Source: Rosenfeld Media

Score: 10/10

Author: Leah Buley

Where can I buy this book? Rosenfeld Media

How many people in the survey knew this book? 37.04%

What is this book about?

In today’s fast-paced world of product and web development, projects are often short-staffed. When you’re the lone designer, success depends on knowing how to prioritize and make the most of your resources. “The User Experience Team of One” provides practical insights to help you excel and achieve more with less.

#2 About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design 

About Face The Essentials of Interaction Design 

Source: Amazon

Score: 9.40/10

Authors: Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, Christopher Noessel

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

How many people in the survey knew this book? 48.15%

What is this book about?

About Face is a foundational book in the field of interaction design, widely regarded for its influence on how professionals approach user interface and experience design, particularly for digital platforms. The book comprehensively covers essential topics such as designing for mobile apps, touch interfaces, screen size considerations, and the broader impact of design in the technology sector. It’s recognized for making interaction design accessible and relevant beyond research labs and into practical application. This text not only offers updated methods for contemporary interface and product design but also delves into the design for mobile platforms and consumer electronics.

#3 The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things

Source: Amazon

Score: 9.26/10

Author: Don Norman

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

How many people in the survey knew this book? 88.89%

What is this book about?

“The Design of Everyday Things” examines how objects interact with their users, focusing on the necessity of intuitive and accessible design. It investigates why certain products are satisfying to use, while others lead to frustration, linking these outcomes to design choices that either accommodate or overlook user needs and cognitive psychology. The book provides practical advice on crafting user-friendly designs by ensuring visibility of controls, creating intuitive connections between functions and controls, and smartly utilizing constraints.

#4 Don’t Make Me Think 

Don’t Make Me Think

Source: Amazon

Score: 8.89/10

Author: Steve Krug

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

How many people in the survey knew this book? 74.07%

What is this book about?

“Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug is a highly regarded guide in the world of web design and development, focusing on the principles of intuitive navigation and information design. Renowned for its witty, commonsense approach, the book offers practical, easy-to-understand insights into creating user-friendly websites. Updated to include mobile usability, it remains a must-read for professionals seeking to improve their web design skills with its engaging, illustrated, and concise content.

#5 Designing Interfaces 

Designing-Interfaces

Source: Amazon

Score: 8.33

Author: Jenifer Tidwell, Charles Brewer, Aynne Valencia

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

How many people in the survey knew this book? 29.63%

What is this book about?

This book is a guide to creating user-friendly interfaces, tackling the challenges of delivering engaging experiences across multiple platforms. It presents UI design patterns for mobile, web, and desktop applications, complete with full-color examples and actionable advice. Ideal for both experienced designers and newcomers, it focuses on user understanding, logical software structure, and the importance of visual design in usability. The book is a resource for practical design strategies in the evolving world of user interface development.

#6 The Elements of User Experience 

The Elements of User Experience 

Source: Amazon

Score: 8.08/10

Authors: Jesse James Garrett

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

How many people in the survey knew this book? 40.74%

What is this book about?

“Elements of User Experience” by Jesse James Garrett has been a key reference for web and interaction designers since its publication. It defines the core principles of design and, in its updated edition, expands to address mobile devices and applications. The book emphasizes the importance of balancing strategic objectives with user needs, offering a holistic view of creating a cohesive user experience. It simplifies complex concepts like usability, brand identity, and information architecture, making it a crucial guide for understanding the broader scope of user experience development.

#7 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People 

00 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People 

Source: Amazon

Score: 7.94/10

Author: Susan Weinschenk

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

How many people in the survey knew this book? 51.85%

What is this book about?

Susan M. Weinschenk’s book, guided by her expertise in behavioral science, is an essential tool for web, UX, and graphic designers. It offers practical insights into designing intuitive and engaging digital products, backed by real science and research. The book covers key topics such as capturing attention, memory formation, decision-making, and effective use of text and fonts, all aimed at aligning designs with how people think and behave. It’s a resource that turns scientific understanding into practical design strategies, celebrated for its well-researched and engaging content.

#8 Hooked

Hooked

Source: Amazon

Score: 7.94

Author: Nir Eyal

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

How many people in the survey knew this book? 51.85%

What is this book about?

“Hooked” by Nir Eyal examines the tactics successful companies use to create products that captivate users and become a part of their daily routines. The book introduces the Hook Model, a four-step process employed by these companies to foster customer habits and ensure repeated use of their products without heavy reliance on advertising. Aimed at product managers, designers, marketers, and startup founders, it combines Eyal’s research and industry experience into actionable insights for building products that instinctively draw users back time and again.

#9 Universal Principles of Design

Universal Principles of Design

Source: Amazon

Score: 5.05

Authors: William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

How many people in the survey knew this book? 40.74%

What is this book about?

Universal Principles of Design serves as an extensive guide to essential design principles, covering 125 key concepts from various disciplines. It’s a resource-rich with clear explanations and illustrative examples, making complex design laws and human biases accessible and applicable. This book is an invaluable tool for designers, engineers, architects, and students, offering a comprehensive understanding of design fundamentals like the 80/20 Rule, Baby-Face Bias, and Ockham’s Razor. Organized alphabetically and indexed by design challenges, it’s a go-to reference for both learning and applying design principles effectively.

#10 Smashing UX Design

Smashing UX Design

Source: Amazon

Score: 3.33

Authors: Jesmond J. Allen and James J. Chudley

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

How many people in the survey knew this book? 37.04%

What is this book about?

“Smashing UX Design,” authored by experts from Smashing Magazine, the world’s leading resource for web designers and developers, stands as the definitive guide to mastering User Experience Design (UX). This book offers a comprehensive overview of UX and User-Centered Design, delving into sixteen widely-used UX design and research tools and techniques tailored for web projects. It functions as a complete UX reference manual, perfect for thorough reading or quick consultations. Suitable for professionals of all levels, whether they specialize in UX or not, it’s like having an UX expert readily available on your bookshelf.

Did you know?👀

Have you seen the recent Smashing Magazine article about “Five-Second Testing” written by Eduard Kuric, the founder of UXtweak? It’s an informative read, offering scientific perspectives on this testing method.

Also, if you’re curious about the specifics of how this case study was carried out, you can find more information in science magazine Behaviour & Information Technology.

More worthwhile reads for product designers

Seeking additional insightful resources as a product designer? Explore five books recommended by fellow product designers, providing valuable insights and knowledge specific to the field.

1. Strategic Writing for UX

Strategic Writing for UX

Source: Amazon

Author: Torrey Podmajersky

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

What is this book about?

This book provides practical insights on writing for UX, focusing on choosing the right words to encourage specific user actions, such as making purchases or engaging with a game. Written by UX content strategist Torrey Podmajersky, it offers strategies for converting and engaging users, measuring content effectiveness, and fostering collaboration. The book guides readers in developing a recognizable brand voice, utilizing content-first design, and creating UX text that is clear, purposeful, and conversational. It integrates UX content with the software development lifecycle and aligns it with product principles, emphasizing the creation of effective UI text and UX voice strategies.


2. Writing is Designing

Writing is Designing

Source: Rosenfeld

Authors: Michael J. Metts & Andy Welfle

Where can I buy this book? Rosenfeld

What is this book about?

This book focuses on the importance of language in software design, highlighting how effective writing is as crucial as visual elements and coding in creating user-friendly apps and interfaces. It offers guidance on improving user clarity, testing language, and team collaboration. Emphasizing that writing is a key part of the design process, the book is essential for those involved in developing apps, voice interfaces, and chatbots, including content strategists, designers, product managers, and software engineers.


3. Because Internet

Because Internet

Source: Amazon

Author: Gretchen McCulloch

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

What is this book about?

This book is perfect for anyone interested in the quirks of online communication and the evolution of language in the digital era. The book explores how digital platforms influence language and the spread of new slang, examining phenomena like text message punctuation, memes, and emojis. McCulloch provides a unique perspective on the dynamic relationship between internet culture and linguistic expression.

4. 101 UX principles 

101 UX principles 

Source: Amazon

Author: Will Grant

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

What is this book about?

This book serves as a comprehensive guide to UX/UI design best practices, focusing on user-centric design principles. It offers essential UX laws, practical UI advice, and insights into color, typography, and accessibility. The book is ideal for both newcomers and experienced professionals, providing snippets of technical knowledge useful in the digital space. Its content ranges from optimizing interfaces for mobile to respectful form design and careful use of animation. It also includes new principles like effective chatbot design and A/B testing. Recommended for UX/UI designers, product managers, and anyone involved in digital product creation, this book is a culmination of over 20 years of industry experience, offering a valuable resource for enhancing digital user experiences.

 

5. Just enough research

Just Enough Research

Source: Amazon

Author: Erika Hall

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

What is this book about?

Design research isn’t a lengthy process — it’s about asking better questions and evaluating answers. In “Just Enough Research,” Erika Hall, co-founder of Mule Design, offers a concise guide to research methods. Learn to identify competitive advantages, recognize biases, and leverage findings. You’ll be conducting effective research quickly. Erika Hall, with a background in web design, co-founded Mule Design Studio in 2001, specializing in research, interaction design, and strategy. She’s a frequent speaker and writer on collaboration and user interface language, and she co-hosts the podcast “Running from the Law.”

6. Ruined by design 

Ruined by design 

Source: Amazon

Author: Mike Monteiro

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

What is this book about?

This book challenges the status quo, shedding light on how many aspects of our world operate as intended, though not always for the better. From environmental issues to social media pitfalls, it explores the consequences of design choices on society. Design is presented as a potent tool carrying the responsibility to shape a better world. The book urges designers to recognize the political nature of their work, emphasizing the need for ethical choices, diverse perspectives, and the courage to question harmful designs. It equips readers with methods to assess the outcomes of design decisions and empowers designers to make a positive impact on the world by embracing their responsibilities.

🐝 Tip: Do you want to enter the world of UX, but don’t know where to start? Read our article The Best UX design resources in which you will find the answer to this and other important questions.

7. Interviewing Users

Interviewing Users (2nd Edition)

Source: Rosenfeld Media

Author: Steve Portigal

Where can I buy this book? Rosenfeld Media

What is this book about?

Master user interviews with Steve Portigal’s updated classic, “Interviewing Users.” This book guides you through the process, from setting goals to effective techniques. Learn remote interviewing, handle biases, and ensure impactful research. Whether you’re a CEO, designer, marketer, or interviewer, this book is essential for understanding user needs and creating successful products.

Exploring User Research with Steve Portigal 🎙️

Did you know we recently had a chat with Steve Portigal on our UX Research Geeks podcast?

Plus, we’ve got a surprise for you:

In collaboration with Steve Portigal and Rosenfeld Media, we’re offering our listeners a 20% discount on Interviewing Users (2nd Edition). Use the code UXRGEEKS at checkout to claim your discount, valid until December 29, 2023. Don’t miss this opportunity to treat yourself this Christmas!


8. Information Architecture

Information Architecture

Source: Amazon

Authors: Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville & Jorge Arango

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

What is this book about?

In today’s digital landscape, Information Architecture (IA) is more important than ever. With so much information available, it’s crucial that people can easily find and understand what they need across various digital platforms. This fourth edition of the handbook provides practical concepts and methods for digital design that stand the test of time. It’s a valuable resource for UX designers, product managers, and developers, helping you create clear and user-friendly structures for effective digital products and services, from initial research to implementation.

9. Nudge 

Nudge

Source: Amazon

Authors: Cass R. Thaler, Richard H.; Sunstein

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

What is this book about?

Authored by Cass R. Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler, who received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics, “Nudge” reshapes our perception of decision-making. The book centers on the art of choice, examining how we make decisions and how we can improve them. Sunstein and Thaler underscore our vulnerability to biases that often lead us astray, emphasizing that no choice is presented without influence. Backed by numerous real-world examples and original research, they offer insights into gently steering individuals towards improved decisions while preserving their freedom to choose.

10. Continuous Discovery Habits

Continuous Discovery Habits

Source: Amazon

Author: Teresa Torres

Where can I buy this book? Amazon

What is this book about?

This book is a practical guide for those who want to create better products that customers love and that benefit their businesses. It offers a structured approach to continuously learning about your customers and making informed decisions. Written by an experienced coach, it provides valuable techniques for product teams of all kinds, from startups to large corporations.

Did you catch our latest podcast episode? 🎙️

We had a conversation with Teresa Torres, a well-known Product Management Coach, in the UXR Geeks podcast. Teresa discussed the Continuous Discovery Framework and its importance for product teams. She shared insights on customer-centric methods, the role of researchers in product development, and how to balance various customer insights.

About our “Best books for product designers” survey

What was the process behind our survey? We started by selecting books from various articles that recommended reading for product designers. This formed a shortlist that our respondents could assess. They had options to mark each book as ‘Not familiar’, ‘Would recommend’, ‘Indifferent’, or ‘Would not recommend’. Once the survey concluded, we analyzed these responses to draw our conclusions.

How our rating methodology works?

  1. In our approach to rating the books, we started by calculating the percentages of respondents who had either recommended it, expressed indifference to it, or not recommended it, disregarding the respondents who selected the “not familiar with” option.
  2. We then determined a net recommendation score for each book by subtracting the percentage of non-recommendations from the percentage of recommendations.
  3. This score effectively captures the overall sentiment toward each book, taking into account both positive and negative opinions.
  4. To make an easier comparison across the books, we normalized these net recommendation scores to a scale ranging from 0 to 10. The highest-ranked book was assigned a score of 10, and the scores for the other books were adjusted proportionally.
  5. This normalization process helps us present a clear, quantifiable, and easy-to-understand rating for each book, reflecting its relative standing among the survey respondents.

We believe this method provides a balanced view of the respondents’ preferences.

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Where do our survey respondents come from?

We’re thrilled to report that 327 individuals from more than 40 countries chose to participate in our survey! A detailed look shows 48.8% were from the North America, followed by 36% from Europe, then 9.3% from Asia, 3.5% from South America, 1.4% from Africa and 0.8% from Australia and Oceania. The participants were from countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, Argentina, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, among others. It’s fantastic to see such wide and diverse involvement! 😊

Where-do-our-respondents-come-from

How much experience do our respondents have?

The background of our product designers is quite informative, especially when considering their book recommendations. Our study indicates a varied range of experience: roughly half of the respondents have less than 2 years in UX, while another half have between 2 to 10 years. Additionally, about 7% of participants bring over 10 years of experience in product design, offering a unique blend of fresh insights and seasoned expertise in their book choices.

How-much-experience-do-our-respondents-have

🐝 Tip: Do you want to get in touch with people from the UX community but don’t know where to look? See our article Best 30 UX Communities and Groups to Join!

Jana Filusova
January 11, 2024
All author's articles

Jana Filusova, our Marketing Executive at UXtweak, brings a scientific approach, analytical skills, and a business background to her role. She is responsible for running our podcast "UX Researcher Geeks" and content creation. Jana's academic background is in Molecular Biology and Genetics, and she spent three years as a researcher at the Czech Academy of Sciences. After completing her Master's studies, she shifted from the world of science to the field of Business Management and began working for UXtweak.

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