4 Best Books to Learn UX/UI Design for Beginners

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UX/UI Design is one of the most sought-after skills in tech today, and the jobs are plentiful for those who are great at it. Some of the best ways to begin learning design are by taking courses, doing lots of projects, and receiving feedback, as well as reading articles and books about it. To help you out here are my recommendations of the best books to learn UX/UI design.

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

Related: 6 Best UX/UI Design Softwares for 2021

best books to learn UX/UI Design

For me, books have been a great resource for learning UX/UI design, especially as a beginner. Personally, I probably read through more than 15 books on the topic of digital design during my first 2 years of learning. Many of them were helpful, but here are the ones that made the biggest impact:

  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 all have somewhat different focuses. Some are more practical, others are more theoretical, but to become a good designer you need both parts.

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

The “About Face” book is a great practical and hands-on guide on the process of working with UX/UI design. Apart from the process, it also explains a lot of basic terminology and technical words that you need to learn in order to communicate with other designers.

I would say that this book is a great one to have by your side while doing your first real projects, so that you can read up about different methods while performing them for the first time. I, myself, had it by my desk when I did my first few paid design projects.

Physically, it’s a really thick book, used in many university courses around the world to teach interaction design, but it’s still easily digestible. The book also contains a lot of helpful graphical examples and infographics such as how personas and user journeys can look in a real project.

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

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, for example how the finished product needs to meet the goals of both the client and the user.

“The Elements of User Experience” by Jesse James Garrett helps with exactly that, teaching real-world thinking on how to combine business and user goals. Similar to the “About Face” book, this is also a more practical one.

Compared to other design books, Garret has focused this book on the entire product design cycle. The act of creating personas, mockups, and prototypes is only a part of the entire product design cycle, the UX/UI design part. But to create great products, one might also need to perform market and user research, stakeholder meetings, collaborate with developers, and so on.

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 world’s most popular books about user experience design, specifically towards the web. It deals much more with the theoretical parts behind common UX guidelines, such as how humans normally behave when interacting with interfaces. Such theoretical explanations for design choices are very important to understand early on, to avoid becoming a designer who does not know what they are doing.

It’s a thin book and a very worthy read.

Book Review - Don't Make Me Think | Blueprint

4. The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman

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

“The Design of Everyday Things” is almost a legendary book about user experience. This one is the most theoretical and “mindset”-related book on my list. This book doesn’t have many practical user interface screenshots or rules, but what it does is that it explains what user experience means in its essence. For that reason, the teachings of this book can be applied to both physical and digital products.

One of the most famous examples from the book is about push-or-pull doors that so many people get confused by every day, around the world. For example: have you ever tried to push open a door, that was supposed to be pulled? And vice versa? Such mistakes or confusion about how to interact with a design can be solved by UX design, which is what this book teaches.

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

More 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. Read: 6 Best UX/UI Design Softwares for 2021

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 an understanding of 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

More 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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