Book reviews

Books in the list below are clustered by author and series, then roughly ordered by which should be read first by someone completely new to UX design.

Don't Make Me Think

Don’t Make Me Think
a concise book about the basic principles of usability
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people who know nothing about UX and want a quick overview
Full review
A Project Guide to UX Design

A Project Guide to UX Design
a guidebook of best-practices for the business side of UX
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in UX professionally
Full review
The Elements of User Experience

The Elements of User Experience
a theoretical foundation of the layers needed to create a user-friendly product
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking a grounding in how the elements of UX fit together
Full review
Universal Principles of Design

Universal Principles of Design
summaries of principles with concrete visual examples and references to seminal works
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in design
Full review
100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People
a colorful, concise book about how psychology applies to design
5 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone who knows how people think
   and anyone who doesn’t know how people think   
Full review
Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences

Seductive Interaction Design:
Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences

a concrete book tying psychological principles to emotional design
5 of 5 stars
I recommend for all interaction designers
Full review
Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules

Designing with the Mind in Mind:
Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules

an introductory book presenting cognitive psychology as a basis of interface design
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone wanting an introductory overview of the topic
Full review
The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things
a ranting textbook of reasons you shouldn’t prioritize aesthetics over usability
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people who think design means “making things pretty”
Full review
HTML5 for Web Designers


HTML5 for Web Designers
a brief, witty book about the evolution of HTML5 with suggestions
   about adapting to use several of its main features   
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for web designers new to HTML5, probably linguists too
Full review
CSS3 for Web Designers


CSS3 for Web Designers
a repetitive repetitive explication of how to use some basic features of CSS3
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for masochists and people completely new to CSS3
Full review
The Elements of Content Strategy


The Elements of Content Strategy
a short dry book about how to manage electronic content
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for people looking to learn more about what a content strategist does
Full review
Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design
a clever and thoughtful explanation of a responsive design and development philosophy
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in web design and development
Full review
Designing for Emotion


Designing for Emotion
a concise collection of case studies showing how scientific and psychological principles influence emotion in web design
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone who makes websites or designs things
Full review
Mobile First

Mobile First

a concrete factual book that states the obvious
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for designers who want to brainstorm about the mobile side of their current project
Full review
Design is a Job


Design is a Job
a sincere forthright book about the business of design
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone who works in a profession hired by contract
Full review
Content Strategy for Mobile


Content Strategy for Mobile
a short book about how to produce content regardless of context
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone involved with content strategy
Full review
Thinking with Type

Thinking with Type
a visual, demonstrative book about the history and principles of typography
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone with an interest in typography
Full review
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
a visual argument for packing as much information as possible into a limited space
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in information visualization
Full review
Beautiful Evidence

Beautiful Evidence
a book about presenting an argument visually
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people interested in conveying information artistically
Full review
Visual Explanations

Visual Explanations
a visual book about pictures of verbs
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for people who really like books by Edward Tufte
Full review
Designing Web Usability

Designing Web Usability
an outdated book showing the field of usability in 1999 with several predictions for the future
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people interested in learning about usability from a historic standpoint.
Full review
Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual

Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual
a dry, abstract picture book
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for people wanting to explore the balance of static and dynamic visual design on their current project.
Full review
Meggs' History of Graphic Design, Fourth Edition

Meggs’ History of Graphic Design
a history of the lives and works of past designers
1 of 5 stars
I recommend for people wanting to know about past designers’ personal lives
Full review

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Psychology

While not strictly-speaking about UX, psychology books can nevertheless help to understand the user’s behavior. You may find the following of interest.

How We Decide

How We Decide
a collection of biographies and psychology studies that explain decision making
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in how decisions are made
Full review
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
an argument for the use of intrinsic motivation
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in methods of motivation
Full review
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
a recounting of the authors own studies on subconscious influences
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone who wants a first-hand account of cognitive psychology
Full review
Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)
a collection of studies and biographical snippets showing the arbitrariness of monetary values
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in prospect theory (economics with psychology)
Full review
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
an examination of libertarian paternalism (guiding, not forcing, decisions)
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in choice architecture
Full review
This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking

This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking
a collection of short essays about modern Shorthand Abstractions
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone wanting to dip into new ways of thinking
Full Review
You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself
a collection of ways in which we don’t think the way we think that we think
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for people hoping to learn more about ways in which we are all irrational
Full review

Game Design

Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals

Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
a dry, yet thorough, book establishing game design as a field of its own
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking a general introduction to game design
Full review
The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses
a thorough yet largely obvious overview of game design
2 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking a derivative introduction to game design
Full review
A Theory of Fun for Game Design

A Theory of Fun for Game Design
a whimsical, illustrated manifesto for games
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone wondering how to create fun
Full review
Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
an inspiring book about how games can be designed for social good
4 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone interested in game design
Full review
The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game

The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game
case studies about turning a classroom into a game
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for educators and educational designers
Full review
For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business

For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business
an self-contradictory airport book about gamification
1 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking a superficial gloss of gamification
Full review
The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education
a sloppily written but reasonably well researched book about gamification
3 of 5 stars
I recommend for anyone seeking an overview of research related to gamification
Full review




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