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Via @uxbooks on Twitter I often get asked to recommend books on various subjects. Recently I was asked which book I would recommend to a non-practitioner as an intro to UX. I opened the question up and thought I'd do the same on here to see what people thought.

EDIT: Please up vote the answers you agree with so we can promote the most popular suggestions for future reference.

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TO kick things off one of the responses I had was 'blueprints for the web' simple, short & introduces IA with some interaction design - bit.ly/O12Q3 –  paulseys Oct 12 '09 at 12:15
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To follow up I've taken the great feedback from this thread and turned it into a post on UXBooth for future reference. User Experience Books for Beginners uxbooth.com/blog/user-experience-books-for-beginners –  paulseys Aug 17 '10 at 13:50
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28 Answers 28

Don't make me think by Steve Krug

The best by far. A small quick read and not too technical at all. Amazon Link

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Seconded, Don't make me think is just brilliant. –  Maikel Nov 27 '09 at 14:54
    
I've made sure that every organization I've gone to has purchased multiple copies of this and had everyone involved in their websites read this. –  Charles Boyung Dec 7 '09 at 21:32
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  • The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman (amazon.com)
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This is a good book, but I don't necessarily find it great for non-usability people. –  Charles Boyung Dec 7 '09 at 21:32
    
Could you explain why? –  Elmook Dec 10 '09 at 17:57
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A Project Guide to UX Design by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler is a great practical and accessible guide to what is required of ux designers, and serves as a great introduction into the field.

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Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think" and "Designing the Obvious" by Robert Hoekman are two good books for that intro to UX.

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Kim Goodwin's Designing for the Digital Age (amazon) is the closest thing to a UX textbook I've seen. It presents a framework for structuring the UX design process, and then delves into the details of each step.

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About Face 3 by Alan Cooper is a very good start. It provides UX process vision, which is very important. Most other books just provide best practices and patterns.

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Another good one that I like is Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton.

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Again, I don't think this is a very good starter book. Excellent book overall, just not for beginners. –  Charles Boyung Dec 7 '09 at 21:33
    
This is NOT a good book for beginners. Too abstract to offer any value for non-practitioners. –  Yosef Waysman Jul 9 '13 at 7:19
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I would also recommend The Humane Interface by Jef Raskin.

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I would not recommend this book for non-practitioners. It contains some excellent theories about what makes a UI good or bad, but is aimed more at actual ui designers. –  Lisa Daske Aug 30 '10 at 10:58
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This was a question I originally asked on Twitter last week that @uxbooks helpfully picked up and shared more widely, so thought it might be worth sharing what others told me direct.

Most of the responses I received are already here - with the exception of About Face By Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann & David Cronin.

Worth mentioning that Steve Krug was certainly the most popular response. Seems like it's still the starting point for most.

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Don't make me think, Krugg

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37 Signals' Defensive Design for the Web (amazon)

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Just to put something new out there. Why Software Sucks.. And what you can do about it. is a great book for engineers to read... its meant to be lighthearted and poke fun at the engineers but I think it really gets it point across as to WHY UX is so important.

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I've already voted up Don Norman's Design of Everyday things, but his book Emotional Design is a great follow up with some contemporary examples. It's a quick read, but still quite insightful.

The Inmates are Running the Asylum is another essential for understanding why we need to consider the UX.

Interaction Design: Beyond Human Computer Interaction (Sharp, Rogers, Preece). While this is a textbook, it still serves as a useful reference for someone that wants a more in-depth read.

Interestingly enough, when posting the links for the above books, the 'Customers who bought this also bought...' shows most of the gems already mentioned here:

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+1 Good compilation including the inmates are running the asylum –  Oskar Duveborn Oct 6 '10 at 15:03
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I have to agree with Matt on "Elements of User Experience" if we're talking about software/web - otherwise Dan Saffer's books or Don Norman are relatively easy reads.

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@jaysonelliot just suggested that help understand why UX exists a good book would be "Designing for People" by Henry Dreyfuss

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I have to say apart from the obvious books that seem to get mentioned constantly I recommend reading Web Usability Handbook

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Web Design Workshop by Robin Williams is a good (but old) primer on design. Once you have that, then books on Cascading Style Sheets make a little more sense.

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I would suggest:

  • Blueprints for the web simple, (amazon .com .co.uk) - short & introduces IA with some interaction design
  • Elements of User Experience by JJG, (amazon .com .co.uk) - holistic overview of what makes up user experience.
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Designing the User Interface by Ben Shneiderman and Catherine Plaisant (amazon) isn't very popular but gives a nice overview of many different UX subjects. As far as I know this book is widely used by colleges and universities throughout the world.

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Don't Make Me Think was excellent!

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"Don't Make Me Think", Steve Krugg

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I'd recommend reading Don't Make Me Think first, followed by A Project Guide To UX Design. These two books should be more than enough as a start. :)

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Communicating Design (Dan Brown) is a book I found really useful when I was starting out (in addition to Don't Make me think & A Project Guide to UX Design already mentioned above).

Communicating Design does a great job of presenting the for who, what, where, when of different kinds, and layers, of ia/ux documentation (user needs, strategy, and design documentation) that someone starting out in UX needs to understand and be able to produce.

October 6/10 update:

It's not a book but it's such a useful, well rounded, summary overview of UX that I thought you still might find it a useful resource:

What Is User Experience Design? Overview, Tools And Resources

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The Simplicity Shift, By: Scott Jenson (amazon.com)

Geared toward managers, and helping them understand the process, and it's importance.

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Chauncey Wilson's new book "User Experience Re-Mastered: Your Guide to Getting the Right Design" (Amazon.com) could also be a good candidate. It is primarily a compilation of material from various Morgan Kaufmann books presented in a project framework.

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i'm not yet make a vote. so, i also suggest

Don't make me think

it's best.

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"Designing the Obvious" and "Designing the Moment" by Robert Hoekman are both excellent starters.

They are small books. Quick and easy reads for the beginner.

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Understanding why Pesky Users never use Your Software the way you Designed It to be Used.

By Joel Spolsky**

Some of it is online here ( though obviously as it's a book its more user friendly to actually read it as a book rather than on screen )

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000057.html

(** Actually its officially called: 'User Interface Design for Programmers', which is such a bad title for such a good book )

When I lend my copy to people I stick a big 'Read This' post-it into this page:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000062.html

When you design user interfaces, it's a good idea to keep two principles in mind: 1. Users don't have the manual, and if they did, they wouldn't read it. 2. In fact, users can't read anything, and if they could, they wouldn't want to.

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