12 Important Books Recommended by the World’s Best UX Designers

By Vishakha Joshi

Hello, book lovers and design enthusiasts! Ever wondered what the most successful designers around the globe have on their bookshelves? Well, we were lucky enough to chat with some of the best UI/UX designers out there on our podcast UX Banter. While interacting, they spilled the beans on their top reads, which cover a variety of topics like UX design, research, psychology, and philosophy. 

We’ve put together a list of their recommendations just for you. Each of these reads provides an enriching perspective on better understanding the world around us, developing design concepts, or improving our interaction with users. Without further ado, let’s dive right in!

1. To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey With Steve Jobs to Make  Entertainment History

This is a thrilling tale about the revival of Pixar from near-bankruptcy to success. Lawrence Levy, Pixar’s former CFO, narrates the transformative journey that the company took to become a leading name in the animation industry. As a designer, this book can help you realize the importance of resilience, teamwork, and creative vision in shaping your projects and turning the odds in your favor.

Recommended by Felix Lee, Co-founder & CEO @ ADPList

2. The Undoing Project 

A mesmerizing story of two psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who turned our understanding of decision-making upside down. This book provides an insightful exploration of human judgment and decision-making processes. By understanding how we think and make choices, you can design more intuitive and user-friendly products.

Recommended by Fergus Roche, Design Director @ Valtech

3. Laws of UX: Using Psychology to Design Better Products & Services

In ‘Laws of UX’, Yablonski introduces key principles that drive effective User Experience (UX) design. This book serves as a user-friendly guide to creating aesthetically pleasing and functional designs. For aspiring UX designers, it’s a roadmap to understanding users’ perceptions and how they interact with digital interfaces.

Recommended by Tim Rosenberg, Senior Product Designer @ TEKsystems, Meta

4. Design for the Real World 

Papanek’s book is a manifesto of socially responsible design. He argues that design should not be purely aesthetic or profit-driven, but should also cater to people’s needs and societal challenges. This book can inspire you to create designs that solve real-world problems and bring positive changes.

Recommended by Florentin Hortopan, Associate Director of UX @ Critical Mass

5. The 48 Laws of Power 

Greene’s bestseller explores the subtle game of power played in everyday life. While it might not directly tie into design, it helps designers understand the psychology of their clients, stakeholders, and users. You’ll learn strategies for gaining influence, which can be useful when advocating for your design ideas.

Recommended by Fonz Morris, Lead Product Designer @ Netflix

6. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike 

The memoir of Nike’s founder, Phil Knight, ‘Shoe Dog’ is a candid tale of resilience, determination, and the pursuit of a dream. This book can teach you how to stay committed to your designs even in the face of rejection and failure.

Recommended by Andy Markov, CEO @ Within-Inc.

7. Thinking, Fast and Slow 

Kahneman, a Nobel laureate, delves deep into the two systems that drive our thoughts – fast, intuitive thinking, and slow, deliberate decision-making. By understanding these cognitive systems, designers can predict user behavior and tailor their designs for a more personalized user experience.

Recommended by Ana Bel Campos, UX Design Director @ Exygy

8. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less 

‘Essentialism’ is about achieving more by doing less. It’s a call to prioritize the truly important and eliminate the superfluous. As a designer, adopting this principle can lead to cleaner, more focused designs that resonate with users.

Recommended by Tiago Estrada, Director of Experience Design @ Nerdery

9. The Best Interface Is No Interface 

Krishna challenges the screen-obsessed world by advocating for a shift from screen-based interaction to seamless solutions. The book encourages designers to think outside the box and create solutions that simplify and enrich users’ lives.

Recommended by Carmen Branje, Director of Product Design @ Maple

10. Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain 

Barrett’s book offers a delightful insight into our brains and how they shape our experiences. For designers, understanding how the brain interprets information can help create designs that align with natural cognitive processing, ensuring a smoother user experience.

Recommended by Lacey Picazo, Founder & CEO @ ZoCo Design

11. The ONE Thing 

This book emphasizes the importance of focusing on the ‘one thing’ that matters most. As a designer, it encourages you to focus on the most critical element in your design, ensuring it receives the attention it deserves.

Recommended by Philip Wallage, Sr. Freelance UX Designer @ ASML

12. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 

While not explicitly about design, this humorous sci-fi classic encourages creative thinking and the questioning of conventional wisdom. It’s a reminder for designers to keep their imagination alive and think outside the traditional boundaries.

Recommended by Doug Appleton, Chief Creative Director @ Perception

Final thoughts

Even though reading these books may not instantly metamorphose you into an elite designer, they will undoubtedly deepen your comprehension of design, user experience, and more. So, pick up a book, settle down in a comfortable corner, and embark on a learning journey from the masters of the field! Enjoy your reading journey, everyone!
To learn more about UI UX design and related aspects, check out more blogs on Galaxy UX Studio – Blogs.

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