The best user interface UI design books – Review

This is my selection of the best UI books that I have read so far. I’ve selected a good mix as some of these books have a design technical focus and others some basic human psychology information related to digital products which is extremely relevant for any professional working on this sort of projects. Even though some of these books, like “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug, are a bit old all the information is still relevant and it gives a solid foundational knowledge about the basics of any user interface product.

List of the best user interface UI design books:

1. Don’t make me think – Steve Krug

Book cover 2nd edition

Steve Krug’s book helps readers to make interfaces ‘usable’ or simply, easy to use by understanding a common sense approach to web usability. All the elements or components of any interface (website, mobile app, etc) should make sense to people so they are able to complete a task or interact with it in an efficient way when clicking or tapping buttons, links, navigation bar, dashboards, and a long etc.

“A thing is usable if a person of average -or even below average- ability and experience (i.e most people), can figure out how to use the thing for its intended propose without being more trouble than it’s worth”

Steve Krug

This book is a perfect introduction to User Experience (UX). One of the classics of all time in user interface design, a must-read, and an essential book to keep on your book shelf for your everyday workflow.

2. Rocket Surgery Made Easy – Steve Krug

Book cover

The second masterpiece of Steve Krug is “Rocket Surgery Made Easy”. This book is about usability testing, a how-to-do guide to finding and fixing interfaces problems and advice about how to incorporate this good practice in any business in a regular basis.

Usability testing as a discipline might sound a bit fancy or confusing for most people, even more for those that don’t have any background related to the UX field. Throughout this book you will realise how simple can be to apply this “as a sport” at work and improve dramatically web sites, applications or any digital product, sometimes with just a few simple tweaks.

“A morning a month, that’s all we ask”

Steve Krug

Rocket Surgery made easy makes it realistic for teams to test early and often, catching problems while it’s still easy to fix them or identifying issues in existing products. Steve also provides a great resource page including material to download that can be used to apply all the knowledge after reading this book.

3. The design of everyday things – Don Norman

Book cover recent edition

Don Norman is the founder besides Jakob Nielsen of NN Group, probably the most known UX research firm around the world. They’re definitely pioneers in the field and have come up with ideas and terminology that have been adopted worldwide, like the concept “UX” itself.

Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this ingenious — even liberating — book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization. The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. The rules are simple: make things visible, exploit natural relationships that couple function and control, and make intelligent use of constraints. The goal: guide the user effortlessly to the right action on the right control at the right time.

The book’s main message is that good design should be simple, intuitive, and easy to use. It should be based on an understanding of human psychology and behavior, and should take into account the needs and goals of the user. The book also emphasizes the importance of testing and evaluating designs with real users in order to identify and address usability problems.

4. Laws of UX – Yablonski

Book cover

A designer’s guide to using psychology to design better digital products and services.

An understanding of psychology—specifically the psychology behind how users behave and interact with digital interfaces—is perhaps the single most valuable nondesign skill a designer can have. The most elegant design can fail if it forces users to conform to the design rather than working within the “blueprint” of how humans perceive and process the world around them. This practical guide explains how you can apply key principles in psychology to build products and experiences that are more intuitive and human-centered. It provides a close look at familiar apps and experiences to provide clear examples of how UX designers can build experiences that adapt to how users perceive and process digital interfaces.

This books is a collection of principles and patterns that help guide the design of user interfaces. The book is based on the idea that there are certain fundamental laws that govern user experience design, just as there are laws that govern physics and other natural phenomena. These laws are derived from cognitive psychology, human-computer interaction, and other fields, and they can be used to guide design decisions and improve the usability and user satisfaction of digital products.

The book covers a range of topics such as web and mobile design, user-centered design, and user research, and it includes case studies and examples to illustrate the principles. The author also provides real-world examples of how these laws can be applied to improve the user experience of digital products.

The book aims to provide a practical and actionable framework for understanding and applying user experience design principles, it’s a great tool for designers, developers, and product managers looking to improve their skills and knowledge in the field of user experience design.

5. Designing Interfaces – Jenifer Tidwell, Charles Brewer, Aynne Valencia

Book cover

Designing good application interfaces isn’t easy now that companies need to create compelling, seamless user experiences across an exploding number of channels, screens, and contexts. In this updated third edition, you’ll learn how to navigate through the maze of design options. By capturing UI best practices as design patterns, this best-selling book provides solutions to common design problems.

You’ll learn patterns for mobile apps, web applications, and desktop software. Each pattern contains full-color examples and practical design advice you can apply immediately. Experienced designers can use this guide as an idea sourcebook, and novices will find a road map to the world of interface and interaction design.

6. Hooked – Nir Eyal

Book cover – photo by Paula Ghete

How do successful companies create products people can’t put down? Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?

This book provides an in-depth look at the science of habit-forming products and how to use it to design and build products that are engaging and habit-forming. The book is based on the idea that creating user habits is key to building successful products, and it provides a framework for understanding how to design products that are habit-forming.

The book covers a range of topics such as user engagement, product design, and user psychology, and it includes case studies and examples to illustrate the principles. The book is divided into four parts: The Hook Model, the Hooked Cycle, the Hooked Strategy and the Hooked Tactics.

The Hook Model is a framework that explains how successful products create habits, the Hooked Cycle is a four-step process that explains how habits are formed, the Hooked Strategy explains how to build habit-forming products and the Hooked Tactics explains how to implement the Hooked Cycle and Hooked Strategy.

I considered “Hooked” a must-read for anyone interested in product design, psychology, and user engagement. It’s not only for product designers but for anyone looking to understand how to build products that people will love. The book is full of practical examples, case studies and insights that can be applied to any industry.

Reading books about user interface design can improve your understanding of the principles and best practices of UI design, learn from industry experts, stay up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques, improve your problem-solving skills, and provide inspiration and motivation.

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