Best 4 Books to Learn UX/UI Design for Beginners

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What are the best books to learn UX/UI design for beginners? Here are my 4 best book recommendations. These are the ones I used myself when I first started learning.

This article contains Amazon affiliate links, but all opinions are honest and my own.

The best way to get started learning UX/UI design is by reading books and articles, taking courses, and doing lots of projects. As well as receiving feedback from senior designers so that you can improve.

The list of best books to learn UX/UI Design

For me, books have been a great resource for learning UX/UI design. Especially in the beginning. I probably bought more than 15 books on digital design in total. A lot of them were helpful, but here are the best ones I read.

  1. About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper
  2. The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett
  3. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
  4. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

These four books, however, have somewhat different focuses. You can read more about each one below with examples of what types of information the books teaches.

1. About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper

Best Books to Learn UX/UI Design - About Face: The Essentials of interaction design

This book is a great “handbook” on UX/UI design. It doesn’t fit in one hand though, since it’s a huge course literature book.

But, the book is very easy to read and the information is easily absorbed. I loved reading this book and think it’s great.

It’s also more of a practical book than a theoretical one, which is more fun to learn from. Especially in the beginning. It focuses a lot on the design process and also teaches a lot of terminologies.

In the picture below you can see that the book contains graphical examples of the UX/UI design process, in this case, it’s personas. Personas are used to build empathy with the end-users and to design inclusivly.

About Face: The Essentials of Interaction design
Graphics in the book

The About Face book helped me a lot at the beginning. I used to have it on my desk during the first few months on my job as a UX/UI designer.

I used it for looking up how to do different parts of the design process. This was especially helpful when I was feeling insecure and was lost in what I was doing.

2. The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett

The elements of user experience - Best Books to Learn UX/UI Design

To provide as much value as possible as a designer, you can’t only focus on making pretty mockups. You also need to consider the bigger picture. The finished product needs to meet the goals of both the client and the user.

This book helps with being able to do that. It is also a more practical book (how-to design) than a theoretical one.

I would say that this book is more focused on the entire product design cycle. It doesn’t only talk about the UX/UI design process, but almost the entire product development process.

See the image below for an example of what the book contains.

The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett

It talks a lot about the different layers to design, and why a design process is important to cover all aspects.

For example, you can not only do visual design (blue layer) without even thinking about what the site needs to contain for features (green layer).

3. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Don't Make Me Think - Best books to learn UX/UI Design

“Don’t Make Me Think”, is probably one of the 3 most popular books for learning UX design. It’s super easy to read and contains many eye-opening guidelines.

See some examples below of UX insights and guidelines that you can find in the book.

Book Review - Don't Make Me Think | Blueprint
The Don'ts of "Don't Make Me Think" | #SEJBookClubDesigner 'Must-reads' #1: Don't Make Me Think - Steve Krug - SitePoint

4. The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman

Best Books to Learn UX/UI Design - The Design of Everyday Things

The legendary UX book by Don Norman. It doesn’t have a lot of practical user interface screenshots or rules. But what it does it that it explains what user experience means in its essence. Both in physical and digital products.

One of his famous examples in the book is about the push-or-pull doors that trick people every single day. Haven’t you also accidentally pushed a door, that was supposed to be pulled? And vice versa?

Hopefully, these books will help you as well with getting started.

Tips on how to learn UX/UI Design

What software/program should you start learning?

To create mockups and prototypes you need to also know how to use programs and applications that are optimized for UX/UI design.

I would recommend Figma or Sketch for beginners. Primarily Figma since it’s free and has all the features you need.

If you want to read more about what software there are for UX/UI design, you can read the article below:

Read the full article: 6 Best UX/UI Design Programs and Applications in 2020 >

Which skills should you start learning?

It’s important to focus on learning all the basic principles of design when starting out, so that you have a strong foundation.

This includes both the basics of graphic design, as well as understanding the design process.

Here’s a check-list of things you should learn first:

  1. Color theory
  2. Layout and whitespace
  3. How to draw attention to a specific interface element (with color, layout, copy, visual hierarchy)
  4. Usability principles (Google “Don Norman usability principles”)
  5. Basics of typography
  6. Basics of prototyping
  7. Information architecture
  8. As well as how to use software to create mockups and designs

Articles about learning UX/UI design

If you’re interested in reading more articles about UX & UI design you can check out my related posts:

Latest UX/UI design trends

One part of being a great designer is also knowing what current graphical trends there are right now. You don’t want to be creating things that look outdated and unprofessional.

Thank you for reading! I hope this was helpful.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Carlos Herrera

    I could not agree more. A UX designer becomes better only once he has gone through countless designs, books, and a thorough trial and error process. Definitely sharing this with the newer designers in my team.

    1. Wendy Zhou

      Happy to hear that, and thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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