Best 40 UX/UI books free & paid versions
The best inspiration for UX designers is reading and embracing the diversity of ideas. We will make an analogy with food for hungry ones. The articles related to User Experience could feed you quickly and provide you with desirable information in some 4-10 minutes. This is a fresh and yummy street food. Hot, trendy, hurriedly cooked and cheap. Actually, most articles are free but it doesn’t mean they don’t have a value, right? Especially, if they have accurate references. But if you really need good food – go to the restaurant, order your meal and wait until it is cooked for you. Books require more time and effort from you. Some of them are really expensive and extremely long. But the great thing is that you can get an invaluable experience and an exclusive knowledge from the best user interface design books you read. We have prepared a list of 40 best UX UI design books that will be useful for marketers, designers, mentors, product managers, entrepreneurs, UX copywriters and guys like you. It’s a great chance for UX/UI design firms to replenish their office libraries.
Cut the long story short – go read more!
Best Free User Interface Design Books
Free books are your garden of temptation. But keep in mind the free cheese in a mousetrap. Most free resources look ok until they start to endlessly ask you to upgrade or buy a subscription. Meanwhile, there are dozens of free UI UX books that will build a solid foundation for your professional growth.
1. UX Design for Startups. Marcin Treder.
This e-book was published in 2013 by UXPin. It highlights efficient design techniques such as analogy, wireframing, mockups, user research, particularly “Guerrilla Research” and User testing. At the beginning of this book, you can find explanations for dummies what is UX and holy saints lean canvas. There are even some professional hacks, economic and behavioral metrics. If you are a beginner in designing interfaces and you are going to work with startups – this book will be your Tao – a place of wisdom and patience.
2. Designing Mobile Interfaces: Patterns For Interaction Design. O’Reilly.
Available as a printed book or a free e-book, this amazing UI UX design book with a colorful parrot on the cover will be a lifeboat in an ocean of any touchscreen devices. This is one of the essential UI books that can transform your way of thinking and building screens for tactile interactions. It is divided into sections and subchapters, which allows you to quickly find what you need for your project.
3. Designing for the Web. Mark Boulton.
This is a very soft introduction to the subject, the most useful of design books. The author explains basic things like typography, typefaces, classifications, typographic hierarchy. The book is especially helpful for code monkeys or buddies who want to deepen their understanding of design.
4. UX Storytellers. Connecting the Dots. Edited by: Jan Jursa, Stephen Köver, and Jutta Grünewald.
There is a chapter named: Sex, Drugs, and UX. This is enough to start reading but if you are still hesitating, we should mention that this book comprises unique life stories of 42 User Experience professionals from all over the globe. ‘UX Storytellers’ shows human-computer interactions with a huge accent on human behaviors. In the era of dribblers and licked up to shine pixels we forgot about a human that is actually using and interacting with interfaces. You can check the full review of a book in the article of Aaron Marcus.
5. The Guide To Wireframing. For Designers, PMs, Engineers, and Anyone Who Touches Product. Chris Bank.
If you want to become a professional in the world of designing interfaces, this is definitely one of the best UI design books. It will help you to get acquainted with the most common page marking technology, the essence of wireframes and the tools for wireframing.
The book was used by programmers to see and plan the look of the interface in order to delineate the hierarchy of elements on the page. Today, the wireframing is used by professional designers to plan the best user experience for the end users.
6. Pixel Perfect Precision Handbook by ustwo.
This is a bunch of examples from ‘to do’/’not to do’ lists. Indeed, the authors of this nice-looking UI design book did a great job. The book gives a clear understanding of designing principles and allows any beginner to see what a good design is. You will enjoy screenshots and descriptions.
7. How to Launch Your UX Career And Get Paid. Guiseppe Getto, Jerry Cao by UXPin.
What is it like to be a UX professional and how to get skilled enough to build a career in UX – this is a pocketbook for beginners. The biggest value of this edition is that the authors explain the intersection of disciplines in user-centered design.
8. The Fable of the User-Centred Designer by David Travis.
A small novel for a few hours of reading that tells a story about a young guy that aims to become a skilled specialist in User-centered design. It feels like an adventure but gives a lot of wisdom and advice from experienced masters of design. Many different stories are told and the main character finds a lot of answers on his way. Sounds interesting, right? Don’t waste your time and get one of the best UI books.
9. Mental Models in Human-Computer Interactions. John M. Carroll and Judith Reitman Olson.
Among multiple UI UX design books, this one has a different approach to understanding the principles of UX UI design. How does our thinking work? How do we decide how to make a choice? In order to build a good interaction between a device and a person we need to know more about the human’s brain and mental models which are preprogramming the way we think. You will meet a lot of creatures from Pandora’s box that are influencing our everyday life.
10. The Ultimate Guide to Prototyping by UXPin.
All about how to make a clickable useful representation of future features of the product, brilliant explanations of users and their tasks, participatory design and involving users.
UX UI Books for Beginners
Now, let’s check books to learn graphic design. Starting a career as a designer you should be ready to read, observe and absorb a lot. Not only the professional literature boosts your skills. A designer is mainly a person that can communicate and create a live connection between users and technical side of a product. Do not neglect fiction as it can train your imagination and raise conversational skills. But here they are, the essentials that could make you blush if somebody asked “Have you read this one?” So if you have not read them yet, here are some best UI UX design books to read in 2020.
11. A Designer’s Art by Paul Rand.
It gives answers to the ‘why’ and ‘how’? What works and why it works. How to create a working design that will inspire people, a design that matters. This is one of the perfect UX books for beginners.
12. The Design of everyday things. Don Norman.
Such a simple thing as the opening of doors already has its own history and culture. Culture means repeating some actions and creating a habit. Sometimes people become hostages of their habits and this may slow down the introduction of new technologies. How things are designed and how to design simple interactions – this is a topic of this excellent UI book. Reading will be very enjoyable because this is not about technologies but about using simple things.
13. Prioritizing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen and Hoa Loranger.
This is another guide by the best-selling author of UI UX design books. The book gives overview of the page design and layout, navigation and search capabilities, content design etc. It will greatly help beginners in designing interfaces quickly and efficiently, taking advantage of the practical advice and experience of pioneers in the field.
14. About Face. Alan Cooper.
This is probably the largest one in our list of the UI UX design books, with more than 600 pages of Goal-Centered Design principles. It shapes the evolution and landscape of the interaction design and includes relevant examples and useful recommendations on mobile apps and consumer electronics design.
15. Emotional Design. Don Norman.
You can put this book at the corner of your table and read it whenever you need inspiration. It’s easy to burn out but this book will be your fresh water in a desert of deadlines. Plus, it’s one of the shortest UI design books.
16. The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How To Restore The San by Alan Cooper.
Have you ever imagined that one of the best UI UX books can make you laugh? Funny, full of #000000 humor, easy to read and greatly composed book. What does it look like when a technician tries to explain the essence of a product to users? It seems like nobody can understand what he is talking about, but everybody waits for a button with simple text on it.
17. The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems by Jef Raskin.
We often say “user” or “persona” but rarely designers are using the word “human”. In this book, the author gives a compass for navigation in the forest of human’s needs. How to create a system that will be a partner of a human.
18. First Principles of Interaction Design. Bruce Tognazzini.
A dry statement of the commandments of the designer, whose retention guarantees paradise. In fact, it’s kind of an Oxford advanced learners’ Dictionary in the UX world, a pile of statements of the professional vocabulary. Good to read from time to time, necessarily to learn if you strive to become a professional.
19. Information Visualization (3rd Edition) by Colin Ware.
Visualization of data and any kind of information related to the science of semiotics. Colin Ware created a scintillating guide that will give you an understanding of the nature of signs and symbols.
20. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk.
Ph.D. Susan Weinschenk made life easier for many designers as her book explains perception levels of people, peripheral vision, errors that people do, cognitive dissonances in our consciousness, what color combinations are hard for eyes and many other secrets. One of the best UX UI books, this is the psychology of design that will give you a great foundation for further research in UX. Do we really need this experience?
UI/UX Books for Product Managers and Entrepreneurs
Every manager and entrepreneur interacts with User Experience, sometimes even without realizing it. The point is that UX and UI are all about the connection between technology and the user, which cannot exist without structure, architecture, navigation, and communication. To be a better manager or entrepreneur you ought to use well-designed and practical rules of order. Here’s the list of UI UX design books that will help you better understand UI/UX principles.
21. Don’t Make Me Think. Steve Krug.
If you want to create products or services that will help your users solve a particular problem, first thing you should do – omit creating another problem. People desire to use products that would simply increase their productivity and save time. Read this book to avoid unnecessary calls to help center.
22. Smashing UX Design: Foundations For Designing Online User Experiences by Jesmond Allen and James Chudley.
This is the very introduction to UX that will make you love this art and will help you understand and use its principles in your everyday life.
23. Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing and Presenting Usability Metrics by Thomas Tullis and William Albert.
This is about quality and site/app performance indices. You should keep your product up-to-date and improve its usability before users start to update their standards. This book will provide you with the analysis techniques and the methods of measurement to make sure that your product meets the requirements of the modern world.
24. Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests by Jeffrey Rubin.
In order to boost the production and to scale up the profits, you need to reach a certain level of quality and underpin this position on the market. Jeffrey Rubin created a step-by-step approach to usability testing in nowadays environment.
25. Validating Product Ideas: Through Lean User Research by Tomer Sharon.
Will be advantageous not only for beginners and startups but also for skilled and experienced designers, as it encompasses quick formulas to validate an idea based on a practical criteria.
26. Sprint: How To Solve Big Problems And Test New Ideas Just In Five Days. Jake Knapp.
How to work with the cross-functional teams and use principles for quick testing and design iterating – learn with techniques developed by Google Ventures.
27. Living with Complexity by Donald Norman.
We live in a mess, we work in a mess, so we should bridle the mess. Every designer intends to minimize the risk of misunderstanding and should be ambitious to transform complex technologies into easy-to-use products. Must read for managers who want to increase the productivity of their companies. You can check a full review of this manual in the article by Robert Blinn.
28. Designing For Interaction: Creating Innovative Applications And Devices. Dan Saffer.
How to create products that work as well as they look – more informal approach to interaction design through jokes and funny cases from real life. With this book UI design will be a piece of cake.
29. Inspired. Marty Cagan.
If you are looking for the new opportunities in your field or if you want to start a new project – this book will calm your hunger and help to find a direction for creative impact.
30. Little Bets: How Big Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims.
People on Amazon say that this book is worth its weight in gold. Experienced entrepreneurs and product managers recommend ‘Little Bets’ because of the useful practical tips that can be easily implemented in your workflow without the need to spend a lot of money.
And the most creamy part of the pie: Best Books for UX Designers
31. ReWork. Jason Fried.
Everyone who has a creative profession or owns a business should read this tiny but invaluable book. It makes you think of rework as of the best way of creation. We often have to re-design, change or complement the idea and it makes us feel sad and sluggish. But ‘ReWork’ changes your attitude and helps to be more productive.
32. The Guide To UX Design Process & Documentation.
Stay confident about stakeholders wishes, edits and micro details that can be forgotten in the groin of the development cycle. Documentation will save your time and mental health. How not to drop most influential deliverables of your research and connect all the dots in perfect documentation of a project – arm yourself with this book and achieve your Zen.
33. Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton.
We all occasionally make sketches of important details of the interface. Moreover, many products were designed thanks to sketches made literally on napkins. This is how to make sketches more qualitative and valuable.
34. Informational Architecture. For Web And Beyond.
This is the Bible of the order. IA and NA for better searching, finding, buying and using products. Every designer knows this lovely white polar bear on the cover of this book because this is a must.
35. Signs and Symbols by Adrian Frutiger.
You will fall in love with semiotics and signs, shapes and lines will never be the same for you after reading this masterpiece. The elements of the sign, the nature of a line, visible and invisible in symbols and synthesis of a few signs – you will recommend this book to everyone, not even necessarily related to design. And if you need to create visual images or branding, then you definitely need to get acquainted with this guide.
36. Grid Systems In Graphic Design. Josef Müller-Brockmann.
All about grid and design philosophy, a bit of history, typographic measuring systems, constructions and all that makes designers get a cold sweat. Yeah!
37. Interactive Data Visualization for the Web. Scott Murray.
How to choose shapes to reflect the exact idea of data? Scott Murray talks about charts, context, structure, elements, and attributes.
38. The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide. Leah Buley.
If you need to practice your intuition, Leah Buley already developed a strategy for skill up. Her experience from a diversity of products in mobile and educational services will teach you collaborative approaches for UX design.
39. Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work. Indi Young.
When you try to understand your user or stakeholder – you should hone your conversational skills and learn how to perceive information, how to empathize and collaborate.
40. Designing Together: The Collaboration And Conflict Management Handbook For Creative Professionals (Voices That Matter) Dan M. Brown.
Finally, we want to finish our list with a book that can really change your approach to collaboration. Many successful products we usually correlate with one person, a CEO or a founder of the company. But the truth is that the great products are designed in collaboration with lots of people. This book tells how to assemble the best ideas and how not to kill your teammates.
This list will never end
All these best UI UX books can provide you with highly needed information to your disposition, but the list never ends. You will find more and more references at the end of almost all UI UX design books and your desire to learn more will turn you into an addict. Read slowly and get joy, every book has its own place and time. Happy harvests.