When you visit a website that is useful, intuitive, and easy-on-the-eyes, you have a user experience designer to thank. UX designers are the individuals behind the scenes making sure that your experience on a website is a good one — that you aren’t turned off by lack of accessibility, poor design, or functionality hiccups.
It’s a big job, and many rookie UX designers feel intimidated by all of the responsibility. But it’s also a fun and creative job, and with the right training and tools you’ll feel confident taking on any design challenge that comes your way.
Reading books is one way to gain confidence and learn more about UX design, from design rules to best practices. There are plenty of books to choose from, but we’ll present the 5 essential texts here. Have other suggestions? Tweet us @GA.
By Jesmond Allen and James Chudley
Smashing UX Design is a fully-loaded UX reference manual that provides an overview of the job and examines the most common design and research tools and techniques. The authors have a combined 30 years of UX experience under their belts, and they share their insights and tips in well-structured (of course) guides, case studies, how-tos, and checklists.
“If we have done our job properly, it will end up like a well-loved recipe book—dog-eared and covered in tea or wine, biscuit crumbs, scribblings, and highlighter ink,” said author James Chudley in an interview with UX Matters. “It’s ended up as a bit of a UX manual, so hopefully it will become what we originally envisioned: the UX expert on your bookshelf.”
By Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D.
In order to be a good UX designer, you have to understand the end user. And to understand the end user, you have to understand people. This is where 100 Things comes in. The book — written by a behavioral psychologist who has been working in UX design since the 1980s — combines science and research to explain what makes people “tick,” specifically when it comes to design interaction. What makes someone linger on a page? What fonts are the best for the end user? How are users motivated to continue traveling through a site? 100 Things answers these and many other questions; it’s a must-read.
By Eric Reiss
If there was a problem, Eric Reiss will solve it in Usable Usability. Reiss is a world-renowned UX expert (and witty fellow, to boot) who in this book presents solutions to common usability problems. Usable Usability isn’t only a fix-it guide, though; it also clearly explains how to understand a user’s needs, how to exceed their expectations, and how to put your plans into action. Featuring design and layout examples plus guidelines and checklists, it’s a must-have tool for any UX designer.
By Steve Krug
The first edition of Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think sold more than 100,000 copies, and for good reason: the book is an essential for anyone trying to understand intuitive navigation and design in a clear and practical way (no heavy or unnecessary content). This third edition is updated with new examples and a chapter on mobile usability, but it still contains all of the sensible information and fun illustrations that made it a classic. It’s a short, easy read that you’ll return to again and again.
By Tom Tullis and Bill Albert
If you’re not a statistician, metrics can be confusing. But metrics are incredibly important for understanding the usability of your website or product. This book breaks down the best methods for collecting, analyzing, and presenting data so that you can measure and improve user experience. It’s a detailed read with lots of tools and examples, but the material is easy to digest. A great reference text for any UX bookshelf.
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