User Experience Design and Books

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10 Best Design Books for Design Students

Posted in User Experience Design, Books

Through this post, you can start your learning with design books. Design is the very basis of universal creation and existence. In the human context, the design is the representation of the human imagination in a visual form. In the internet world, the design is at the core of messaging and communication. By nature, the human brain is wired to pick up, assimilate and understand information more effectively and faster when presented in certain shapes, sizes, and colors.

A good design is an important aspect of any product – physical or digital. Besides the functionality of a product, design elements of a product appeal to the soft centers of the brain and has a tremendous impact on psychological, aesthetic senses too, and it can make-or-mar a product’s success in the market.

10 Best Design Books 

Designers come from different backgrounds, with some having studied arts and crafts at school and college, while others are self-taught. Regardless of their training, it is crucial that you as a designer understand the foundations of the Design field. In today’s design-driven world, designers take many avatars - graphic designers, UX designers, fashion designers, animation designers and so on.

To pursue one’s interest in design and to choose the right design career, here are 10 best design books that will strengthen your understanding of the fundamental principles of design and its applications.

1. Universal Principles of Design, Revised, and Updated

125 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design

Author: William Lidwell, Kristina Holden, Jill Butler
Amazon price: $24.81 to buy

This book is for designers, engineers, architects, and students who seek to broaden and improve their design expertise. It has everything you ought to know for a successful design. You will see that every major design concept is defined and illustrated to a reader’s delight.

The book is organized alphabetically so that principles can be easily and quickly referenced by name. The book has a list of FAQs commonly confronting designers such as - How can I help people learn from my design? How can I enhance the usability of a design? How can I make better design decisions?

The design aspect of this book is the culmination of many concepts and practices brought together from a variety of disciplines.

You can buy this book from here.

2. Layout Essentials

100 Design Principles for Using Grids (Design Essentials)

Author: 1st Edition by Beth Tondreau
Amazon Price: $14.69 to buy

This book demonstrates basic layout guidelines through 100 design principles such as choosing a typeface, striving for rhythm and balance with type, combining typefaces, using special characters and kerning and legibility.

Whether you are creating brochures, annual reports, posters, websites, or publications - layouts are very important. So if you want to create success in your job skillfully then you must pick up this book.

You can buy this book from here.

3. The Art of Looking Sideways August 20, 2001

Author: Alan Fletcher
Amazon Price: $25.98 to buy

Alan Fletcher does not set out to teach lessons but has brought the full wisdom and insights collected from all over the world in this book.

It is an inexhaustible mine of anecdotes, quotations, images, curious facts, and useless information, oddities, serious science, jokes and memories, all concerned with the interplay between the verbal and the visual, and the limitless resources of the human mind.

You will see an expressive use of type, space, color, and imagery in 72 chapters.

If you enjoy the interplay between word and image and relish the odd and unexpected, The Art of Looking Sideways is the ultimate guide for you.

You can buy this book from here.

4. The Design of Everyday Things

Revised and Expanded Edition

Author: Don Norman
Amazon Price: $10.43 to buy

You may be smart but you may fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. This is probably due to inefficient product design.

The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. This book is a powerful primer on how -- and why -- some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.

You can buy this book from here.

5. Graphic Design School

The Principles and Practice of Graphic Design Paperback – February 6, 2017

Author: David Dabner, Sandra Stewart, Abbie Vickress

Amazon Price: $46.92 to buy

The essential introduction to graphic design for the digital era

As media continues to evolve, graphic designers must possess a core set of competencies that translate across all applications. This book teaches the critical concepts and essential skills that build the framework for successful, innovative design

To hone your skills in design fundamentals to advanced techniques and problem-solving, this book is packed with practical advice and tutorials for a broad range of applications in any media.

You could also gain knowledge on User Experience and User Interface Design, latest tools, and resources for designing for the web, mobile apps, social media, and more.

You can buy this book from here.

6. The Elements of User Experience

User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond (2nd Edition) (Voices That Matter) 2nd Edition

Author: Jesse James Garrett
Amazon Price: $37.74 to buy

The author has refined his thinking about the Web, going beyond the desktop to include information that also applies to the sudden proliferation of mobile devices and applications.

This is a vital book for web and interaction designers the world over and has come to define the core principles of the practice.

With so many nuances involved such as Usability, Brand Identity, Information Architecture, and Interaction Design, creating impactful user experience can be overwhelmingly complex. The new edition of this book cuts through the complexity with clear explanations and vivid illustrations that focus on idea creation and depiction rather than tools or techniques. The author provides you the big picture of UX development, all the way from Strategy through the requirements to Information Architecture and Visual Design.

You can buy this book from here.

7. Logo Design Love

A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, 2nd Edition Paperback – August 30, 2014

Author: David Airey
Amazon Price: $19.92 to buy

In Logo Design Love, the author shows you a step by step approach to developing an iconic brand identity, using client use cases from renowned designers and design houses. The book elaborates on how designers create effective and powerful briefs, generate ideas, commercial aspects of billing for work, and the art of how to collaborate and cooperate with clients. David – the author, liberally shares his own experiences working on Brand identity cases which includes sketches and final outputs of his own successful design projects. The author also goes the extra mile to showcase works of many well-known designers such as Paula Scher – the designer of logos for leading brands such as Citi and Microsoft Windows, and Lindon Leader - creator and designer of FedEx brand, as well as work from leading design studios, including Moving Brands, Pentagram, MetaDesign, Sagmeister & Walsh, and many more.

In Logo Design Love, you'll learn:

  • Adoption of Best practices for extending a logo into a complete brand identity system
  • Differentiating Logos and how winning logos are better and more effective than others in the category
  • Nuances of creating your own iconic and epic designs
  • Why some designers are a class apart from the rest in the design fraternity
  • 31 practical design tips for creating winning logos that can make an immense appeal

You can buy this book from here.

8. Design Elements, Color Fundamentals

A Graphic Style Manual for Understanding How Color Affects Design
Author: Aaris Sherin
Amazon Price: $30.41 to buy

Colour is an integral element of any design solution. Design Elements, Color Fundamentals is a classic resource for designers who have a deep desire to create winning and memorable designs that effectively and meaningfully communicate the essence of their messages with the target audience. This is the second book in Rockport's Design Elements series, which focuses on the core elements and principles of design.

This book will hone your skills and help:

  • Learn how to effectively communicate with color and integrating with font types, images to meaningfully present ideas and messages.
  • See how colors and their selection methods can be used in real-world projects
  • Explore visual examples of high-quality illustrations that have some of the best color combinations, and learn how colors can be applied to any design project, in the omnichannel, multi-cultural and multi-geographical setting.
  • Understand the basic principles of color theory.
  • Discover tips and techniques for using color in design projects for clients and their communication needs.
  • Get a grip on the basic rules for working with colors, and when you can break the fundamental rules when it comes to using color schemes.

You can buy this book from here.

9. Thinking with Type

A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students

Author: Ellen Lupton
Amazon Price: $14.32 to buy

One of the books that are recommended to learn about typography is Thinking with Type. This is one book that will help you use typography in visual communication – in print and in digital media. This book includes forty-eight pages of new content, more importantly the latest information on style sheets for print and web media, use of ornaments and captions, lining and non-lining numerals, use of small capital fonts and enlarged capital fonts, as well as relevant information on licensing of fonts, blending typefaces, and hand letters.

The book contains visual examples and will show you how to be innovative within defined systems of typographic formats, the basic tenets and rules, and importantly when and how to break them. Thinking with Type is a type book for one and all: Designers, Copy Writers, Editors, Students, and anyone else who wants to work with typographic fonts and words.

You can buy this book from here.

10. Don't Make Me Think, Revisited

A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) (Voices That Matter) 3rd Edition

Author: Steve Krug
Amazon Price: $31.33 to buy

Since Don’t Make Me Think was first published in 2000 it is one of the best-loved and most recommended books on the subject. The author has added fresh perspectives which will make reading a fun-filled experience.
This is a “must-read” recommendation for anyone working on Web sites.

“After reading it over a couple of hours and putting its ideas to work for the past five years, I can say it has done more to improve my abilities as a Web designer than any other book,” says Jeffrey Zeldman, author of Designing with Web Standards.

You can buy this book from here.

Closing Thoughts

We hope these 10 hand-picked and well-reviewed books are a great source for Designers to hone and harness their Design Thinking capabilities and apply the acquired knowledge in their workplace. If you believe we missed out on an important one, do let us know via comments.

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Sindhuja Hari

Sindhuja Hari

Sindhuja Hari, a technology geek, content producer & writer brings over 20 years of experience. She builds and delivers best in class content for global audiences. Her favorite domains/ genres are IT, Manufacturing, Logistics & Supply Chain, and Travel & Leisure. View all posts by the Author

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Ted Brady
Ted Brady

How do you present a design concept?

Pete Patton
Pete Patton

Design thinking is a solution-based approach to find a solution to unknown problems. You can go through five stages to come to a final decision about any problem.
1. Empathize: you can get the empathic and deeper understanding of your problem with the consultation of experts. It allows you to get insights of your user and their needs.
2. Define: at this stage you will analyze the gathered information and define the actual problem in a more human-centered way.
3. Ideate: new solutions are identified or to find alternative view to the problem. This may include many brainstorm sessions to come to any conclusion.
4. Prototype: different cases are been tested to investigate the problem.
5. Test: designers will now test the complete product with best solution carried out at prototype stage.

Essie Fields
Essie Fields

What is an example of design thinking?

Rickey Griffin
Rickey Griffin

Design thinking has been highly practiced in each industry and they have gained a lot from merely including in their system for better returns. If we take the example of IBM, they use Enterprise Design thinking framework that allows collaborating, aligning the team and forming the base to solve user problems. It enhances customer experience and helps in delivering value to achieve business goals.


hi Sindhuja first of all I really appreciate your effort to doing this work am so grateful that you post it here. am learning design so it will really help me. as i was studying design for quit some so i can say it is very good collection of books. Thank you much. ♥LUWAMH.


Great! yes these books are useful to become a graphic designer.