A friend asked me for a list of books that are required reading for a User Experience developer. Specifically, this friend is a graphic designer and might want to branch out to UX in general. Feel free to add to my list here.
Universal Principles of Design is a great book to get a common vocabulary about design. It helps to explain to business people why something works (or doesn’t). On this score, Don’t Make Me Think is a classic that will give you good grounding in core principles. These two books, I actually like to give to executives because they are so easy to read and create common ground.
Presentation Zen. Being a UX designer is as much about presenting ideas as it is about coming up with ideas. This is a critical skill of the UX Designer.
Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company. I loved this book. It showed in easy to understand terms why great design makes great businesses and how rotten design will kill your company. Design is about decisions.
About Face 3 by Alan Cooper. This book is pretty technical, but I figured they can’t all be visionary books. Some of them should talk about UI. It’s a good idea to also read his book The Inmates are Running the Asylum, although I don’t agree with all of it. Cooper’s ego is very present in the books, but the bottom line is that the techniques he describes are rock solid. I read Designing Interfaces by Jennifer Tidwell, but I liked About Face more.
Agile Project Management with Scrum. It’s an odd choice for UX designers, but here is why I suggest it: Iterative development is good for UX. The book is about project management and management of expectations. The Agile Manifesto can be summed up by “Embrace Change“. Change is GOOD for UX. You have to iterate. If you are in an organization where you have to design every detail once and you dont get to iterate then I promise you, you will not end up with your best work.
Of course, books only get you so far. There are blogs, conferences, mailing lists and other channels, not to mention raw experience and mentoring. However, reading these books is a great way to get inspired and start developing your influences.