Our Top 10 Design Books Recommendations

Are you trying to learn design fundamentals but don’t know where to start? Check out our top 10 design books recommendations which will surely add fresh perspectives and broaden your design horizons!

A book with the number 10

If you’re looking for ways to learn about the fundamentals of design or if you simply want a fresh perspective, then it’s safe to recommend getting some new design books. Of course – many books cover various areas of design, and it might be overwhelming to decide which books to get. That’s why we compiled our list of top 10 design books that expanded our knowledge, inspired us, and broadened our horizons.

1. The Design Of Everyday Things – Don Norman

“The Design Of Everyday Things” is a book written by Don Norman, a co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group. As the author says, this is a “starter kit for good design,” which can be purposeful even if you’re not a designer. That’s why this book serves us as a go-to when familiarizing others with design. The author claims that we all sometimes have a little designer inside ourselves – we design our lives, rooms, processes, and the way we handle things.

The purpose of this book is to help you recognize good and poor designs in the things that surround you. It determines how bad designs in the latest technology give rise to many problems of modern life.

Also, it shines a light on processes thoughtful designers implement and deliver to make our lives easier. We added this book to our top 10 design book list because it offered good and bad design examples and introduced simple rules that are easy to utilize for improving the usability of everyday objects.

2. Build Better Products – Laura Klein

“Build Better Products”, written by Laura Klein, explains that building a new product and creating a great product everyone will want to buy and love to use are two separate things.

“Newbies” in building products will learn fundamental principles of building a digital product and all the relevant details necessary to have in mind. Experienced designers will uncover new methodologies or learn new fun & practical ways to explain design fundamentals to their clients. This book also contains exercises you can perform alone or within a team, to define and measure progress and learn how to prioritize tasks. You’ll also learn how to understand your customers within both startups and big companies. 

We believe this book will offer a deeper insight into product discovery, development, and optimization and motivate you to complete (at least some of the) exercises and grow as a designer.

A woman in a library holding a book

Reading design books is a great way of learning design fundamentals.

3. Don’t Make Me Think – Steve Krug

“Don’t Make Me Think! – A Common Sense Approach To Web Usability” is a book written by Steve Krug, a usability consultant with a history of working with Apple, AOL, Netscape, and many others. His expertise in web design helped him create a book that explains how to control website design principles with just the right amount of humor.
This book has many tips and insights to help you adjust a website or an app to achieve a productive user experience. 

The first tip is quite obvious: if you’re wondering about the most important thing you should do to ensure your website is easy to use, it’s not to make your visitors think! It might sound like a child’s play, but there is an ocean of websites that are still missing out on visitors (and conversions, for that matter) because of missing out on this simple rule. 

We’re more than sure that this book will bestow you with a brand-new perspective on how to look at things (and not just online). 

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4. Change By Design – Tim Brown

“Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation”, written by Tim Brown, CEO of a well-known innovation and designer company IDEO, introduces the process of design thinking. 

Design thinking is an approach where designers use their capabilities to satisfy people′s needs instead of delivering solutions that are merely technically feasible and fitted within a viable business strategy. It is a human−centered approach to problem-solving that encourages designers (and organizations) to become more innovative and creative. In short, design thinking transforms need into demand. 

We recommend this book because it will give you a deeper insight into design thinking, prototyping, mental matrixes, user experience design, storytelling, and it will inspire you in numerous ways.

5. Jobs To Be Done – Tony Ulwick

“Jobs To Be Done” is a book written by Anthony – Tony Ulwick, an innovation strategy consultant and the founder of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory. This book will probably give answers to all of your innovation-related questions. It will teach you how to predict the pain points of your projects and resolve them before their failure. 

“Jobs To Be Done” embodies the author’s desire to get designers and other project contributors to focus on “what job is the customer trying to do?” rather than on “what does the solution do?”. For example, if you create, design, or sell stove-top kettles, you can say you make products whose job is to boil water. However, that is not the “job to be done” by your customers: their job is to make hot coffee or tea.
“Jobs To Be Done” will also serve you with an insight into strategies that will make the job done better or worse.

We love this book because it has everything – the theory, backed with examples and, most importantly, results.

6. Hooked – Nir Eyal

“Hooked” by Nir Eyal answers why some products capture our attention so quickly and permanently while others don’t, and boy, this book sure captured our attention quickly! It explains the habits that make us engaged with specific things and patterns technologies use to keep us, well, hooked.

Nir Eyal wrote this book encouraged by his vast experience and research, wishing he had a book like that throughout his startup-founding journey. In his book, Nir Eyal introduces
the Hook Model – a four-step method that entices customer behavior when implanted into products. With the help of the so-called “hook cycles,” these products can bring users back repeatedly, even without aggressive advertisement. 

“Hooked” is another great book on our top 10 design books list because it helps to understand how products influence users’ behavior. It is a fantastic how-to guide for everyone within product management, design, marketing, and startup niches.

A girl is reading a book
Large library with some people

7. Validating Product Ideas – Tomer Sharon

“Validating Product Ideas” by Tomer Sharon offers “step-by-step guidance on how to tackle the research to build the best possible product.”

This book is an excellent resource for everyone in product design and development professions and newcomers in design because it teaches why user feedback is crucial and how to get it. Tomer Sharon gets straight to the point with precise guidelines for user research. 

This book will familiarize you with how to do a usability study, AB testing, in-depth interviews, tree testing, fake doors, and other handy methods. One of the best things about this book is its seamless application to your everyday practices, sometimes even before actually finishing reading the book. If you’re looking for the answers to questions similar to “Who are Users? What do they need? How do they currently solve a problem?”, get this book and watch yourself finding them with ease.

8. Laws of UX – Yon Jablonski

“Laws Of UX” by Yon Jablonski is a book on UX you simply must get your hands on.
In the “Laws of UX”, Jablonski relies on psychology to explain how to design better products and services. 

This book is a short-read go-to resource for anyone who wants to improve their design skills, learn how psychology and design interact, and discover why people react to good design.
It introduces, explains, and gives examples to UX Laws such as Jakob’s Law, Fitts’s Law, Hick’s Law, Law of Aesthetics, Doherty’s Threshold, and more. 
While this is a book for digital designers, you’ll get information that will significantly improve your knowledge and approach, even if your profession is differently connected to shaping
the user experience.  

This book is a worthwhile option for everyone who wants to expand their UX and UX Laws knowledge and understand the importance of a good design for business.

9. Lean UX: Designing Great Products With Agile Teams – Jeff Gothelf, Josh Seiden.

“Lean UX: Designing Great Products With Agile Teams” is written by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden.

Jeff Gothelf is an organizational designer with 20 years of experience in digital products and services. Josh Seiden has been creating great technology products for more than 25 years. Their experiences bring them high authority in topics related to design, product strategy, and leadership. They created the “Lean UX” book as an approach to interactive design suitable for modern agile teams. 

“Lean UX” focuses on the design of the actual experience rather than on delivery. 
This information-dense book will shine new light on implementing short, iterative cycles to the design and achieving the best results for both business and the user. It also offers specific examples from the authors’ previous experience.

This book is short, enjoyable, and even though some parts might strike you as “common sense,” you’ll learn to recognize how most modern organizations still don’t use it.

A book is flying surrounded by more books

10. UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want – Jaime Levy

“UX Strategy” is a hands-on guide that introduces straightforward strategy tools and techniques to help you and your team design innovative products people will want to use.

This book is great for entrepreneurs, UX and UI designers, and product managers.
It offers strategies of different levels that you’ll be able to apply to your work right away. 

It contains business cases, historical context, real-life examples, and interviews with prime strategists that offer diverse perspectives on the subject. “UX Strategy” will teach you how to define and validate your target users by introducing personas and teaching you customer discovery techniques. You’ll learn how to conduct competitive research and how to strategize UX funnels that will result in increased customer engagement.

The second edition of this book was released in March 2021. It includes straightforward product strategy tools and techniques that could help you and your team deliver original digital solutions that people will want to use.

Final thoughts

These are our top 10 design books recommendations! We hope this article will motivate you to read some, if not all, of these books. We’re sure they’ll help you to become extra-inspired and confident throughout your design journey. 

If you’ve already read some of these, feel free to share your opinions with us, or in case you have another example of a must-read design book, let us know.

Happy reading!

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