What books would you recommend to someone who's been doing UX for several years (and read the intro books)?

The subject can be UX or anything that makes you a better user experience/interface designer.

For starters, some books that come to my mind:



19 Answers 19


If you want to read advanced books you should ditch any books that has UX, Interface Design, User Experience or XD in the tittle as they are almost always by definition not advanced books.

Instead I would recommend you to read books that are more peripheral to the UX subject. (Sorry I am only allowed to post on link)

That would be books about how to make movies, books about programming such as Code Complete

Books about the brain such as On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins

Books about typography/Grids such as Grid Systems by Josef Müller Brockman

Books about motion graphics

Books about game theory

Even books about information theory and statistics (Kauffman or Tufte)

That is really what UX is about. Understanding around the subject rather than on the subject IMHO.

  • I fully agree with this comment. Also, start looking into the research literature. You can get access to a lot of stuff for free via the web, or subscribe to an electronic library, e.g. the ACM's Special Interest Group on HCI (or CHI as they call it). Also on the book front don't miss out on psychology, and (as a subset) cognition. General books on design are also helpful.
    – Splog
    Jul 12, 2011 at 14:37

A couple of my faves come from architecture:

Mostly because they cast an interesting light on the stereotypes of how buildings are designed/built compared to how it actually happens in reality in many situations.

  • 1
    I would vote this up 10 times if I could. Jul 23, 2010 at 1:16

1) Cost-Justifying Usability (Bias & Mayhew):

Includes an overview of discount usability techniques and use of specialized tools for cost justification

2) Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and Others Die (Heath & Heath):

Covers 6 key qualities of ideas that stick, all of which can be applicable to ux web/product design:

  • Simplicity (stripping an idea to its core)
  • Unexpectedness (how do you capture people's attention and hold it?)
  • Concreteness (how do you help people understand your idea and remember it much later?)
  • Credibility (How do you get people to believe your idea?)
  • Emotional (How do you get people to care about your idea?)
  • Stories (How do you get people to act on your idea?)

3) Designing for the Social Web (Joshua Porter)

4) Subject to Change: Creating great products and services for an uncertain world (Merholz & Schauer)

5) Designing Social Interfaces: Principles, Patterns, and Practices for Improving the User Experience (by Christian Crumlish and Erin Malone)

  • I don't see how 3 and 4 are advanced books, Porter's book provides a nice framework for social websites, but it is quite basic. "Subject to Change" is really a high level strategic book, that I would recommended to business people to learn about the value of UX, so also not an advanced book for UX-people. Sep 7, 2011 at 9:30

jef raskin the humane interface - (2000) - thought provoking on a whole manner of interface and deisgn issues

Alan cooper - about face 3 - ok not mega advanced but an essential read and a clear step up from 'don't make me think', 'inmates are running the assylum', 'designing web usablity' and all the other basics

David Olgivy - Olgivy on advertising - a real oldie but a goodie - start to think a bit beyond widgets

robert hoekman jr - Designing the obvious - a nice read

Any of the edward tufte books - they are facinating and beautiful too - how to present information beautifully

...while we are on about data then the stephen few books (show me the numbers and dashboard design) are great too


I'm finding Dan Brown's Communicating Design to be an invaluable resource. I find myself referring to it again and again.

  • 1
    +1 for this. Communicating design is excellent. I just wish the companion site had all the stencils etc.
    – Matt Goddard
    Jan 5, 2010 at 17:26

I would recommend Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics by Tullis and Albert. Although it has an intro to usability at the start, it's mainly focussed on the practical aspects of analysing data.


I highly recommend Bill Scott's (created Yahoo! YUI and the Netflix interface) "Designing Web Interfaces"

  • A very good one for Devs to read, I might add. Jul 23, 2010 at 14:03

I like Papanek's Design for the Real World. It's about design in general. Though not focused on UX it's full of great thoughts which I think will be useful for every UX professional. Definitely worth reading.


I do like The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook a nice collection of good articles.


I'm not a 100% sure what's meant by advanced but if you mean getting deeper into the craft, for me it requires an inside (knowing the fundamentals at a deeper level) and outside (knowing more as it pertains to larger design theory) approach to get to anything near an advanced stage as as UX designer.

Some really great titles were published last year and one this year (#2) that I think addresses this topic and the inside/outside POV I'm referring to perfectly:

1) Prototyping, A Practitioner's Guide, Todd Zaki Warfel (inside-covers that tricky area where rubber has to meet road in the design process): http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/prototyping/

2) Universal Principles of Design (2nd edition), William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler (outside-an indispensable reference guide/resource on design principles---across all design disciplines---that can be used to solve specific problems or achieve specific outcomes): http://j.mp/8Q9LPQ

3) Web Anatomy Interaction Design Framesworks that Work, Robert Hoekman (inside-discusses the process of how to apply the concept of design patterns to entire user flows for specific processes... signup, catalog browse, etc.), : http://j.mp/6qzJat

4) Content Strategy for the Web, Kristina Halvorson (inside-great book on the dirty secret part of much of the web/software work we do--approaches content as more than just words but how it to make it work for users and how to successfully manage it): http://j.mp/8i3fIT

Hope this helps. Anyone else?


Anything by Edward Tufte is a must read. UXers often need to design against data, and his books detail this in wonderful ways.

If you're a web-designer, Luke Wroblewski has written an excellent book on Web Form Design that will help you critique and design better forms. Honestly, it's a good read.

Understanding Your Users is a bit of a weighty tome, and goes into detail about many topics. Given an element of UX is about understanding user requirements, I think this is pretty much an essential.


I just read Predictably Irrational and liked it very much. My Book Review.

  • just finished it too and it is a great read
    – Jon Dodd
    Dec 28, 2009 at 16:06

Just one jewel I advise to everyone:

The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (by Jesse Schell)

soooo packed full of good ideas...

  • Chapter 2: The Designer Creates an Experience
  • Chapter 3: The Experience Rises Out of a Game
  • Chapter 9: The Experience is in the Player’s Mind

there are more... always thought we can learn a big deal from game design


And also taking a peek into Taxonomies is very valuable as a resource for understanding how to structure information and the basic principle that have made MS in Library Science graduates hot picks for IA's in UX teams.

Even though for IA it is a basic book that gives an understanding of the underlying principle that guide many content structural decisions.

A good start: Building Enterprise Taxonomies (don't get scared by the cover, it is actually good)


I think it will be different:

... all about being human.


I agree with ThomPete in that you need to read around other closely related subjects that you find interesting. For example, I enjoy learning about new persuasive design methods so I read lots of psychology books, design, ergonomics, sociology (the study of how groups of people behave), NLP, etc. I also like to pick up the odd book on Flash, PhotoShop, Fireworks, business (after all business skills are very useful!), presenting skills, persuasion, etc, etc. Just find some subjects that you're interested in that are complimentary and apply what you learn to ux. It will make you a bit more different too :)


First off, I'm surprised not to see Donald Norman's The Design of Everyday Things (was: The Psychology of Everyday Things). It was really eye-opening for me, as I now reflect upon details that I never noticed before.

Also, Thomas Landauer has a lot of low-level observations, hints and best practices in The Trouble with Computers.

Apart from these, I agree with @ThomPete: be curious on peripheral subjects (I get inspired by reading the references of every book I read—you should start off from there).

  • 1
    The Design of Everyday Things tends to be considered as a bit of a beginners book (its on the other linked list) - though in fact 90% of its content isn't directly UX related. It also has a useful set of references in the back.
    – PhillipW
    Sep 7, 2011 at 9:27

Bits of this are quite interesting. It does get over the fact that most of the stuff that people believe about themselves (and of course report) is just a vague approximation to reality...

The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us

Christopher Chabris / Daniel Simons


These three by Malcolm Gladwell. Not really UX books, but still very good reads:

Great insights into extraordinary and everyday people and situations. Quite refreshing to read.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.