đź“š My Selection of the Best Books on UX Research, UX Design, Mobile, Accessibility & more

I get asked quite often for book recommendations on different design related topics. I finally found a little bit of time to go through my list of ebooks and paper books. Those are the books written in English I read and can truly recommend. (there’s a few more books in on the French version of this list). I wrote a small review for each of those.

Note that I still haven’t read half of the books I bought, so stay tuned, this list will be updated often. Also, yes this article contains affiliate links on amazon but there are options to buy from other sellers when possible, so, up to you.

Currently reading: Disruptive Research, Better Onboarding, Nudge

** Last updated: July 2023 **


I ordered the list in different categories to help you go through it:

Understanding & selling User eXperience

Customers Know You Suck – Debbie Levitt

Full title is “Customers Know You Suck: Actionable CX Strategies to Better Understand, Attract, and Retain Customers”. This is a manual (with miro templates) to help you improve customer centricity and sell UX research to your stakeholders, but also conduct user research. Debbie also adresses a couple of myths agile and UX, and aspirologies (methods that look like they can help but hurt the profession). There are a lot of super interesting interviews from UX designers, researchers and strategists in the field. And, chapter 22 is an interview of me, talking about interprise UX, hahaha. Still, I read the rest too, highly recommend it.

Where to find it: Amazon, Debbie Levitt’s Site

Just Enough Research – Erika Hall

A nice introduction to different methods of user research, from the basics to process, competitive research, evaluative research, etc. She also added a chapter on surveys in the second edition. Like most A Book Apart books, a lot of information is packed in this one. You will want to keep it close to your desk for future reference.

Where to find it: A book Apart

The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide – Leah Buley

I started my career as the “only UX designer in the team” and this book was really helpful. The book is split in 2 parts: philosophy (building principles, attitude, perspective) and practice (methods, techniques, tips and tricks). The first part concentrates on helping you sell UX to the company. The second one presents different UX methods and tools to help you build user centric products. Both parts are equally useful depending on where you work and where you are in your career.

Where to find it: Rosenfeld MediaAmazon

User Experience Revolution – Paul Boag

This is a nice complement to Leah Buley’s book and will help you “sell” UX process within a company. This is a step by step battle plan to help you build a UX revolution and place users at the heart of your organization, from understanding it, selling the benefits, to customer experience evangelisation, getting managerial support, establishing best practices and more.

Where to find it: Boarworld.comAmazon

UX for Beginners: A Crash Course in 100 Short Lessons – Joel Marsh

I love the duck on the cover and this is a nice introduction to the different aspects of UX design. It covers a LOT of topics so you won’t go deep into each one, but it’s a nice book for beginners to grasp the different concepts and decide what they want to dig into more later. It’s full of illustrations though so I would advise to get a paper version or to read it on a tablet but not on kindle.

Where to find it: Amazon

Usability & UX Research specific methods

“Don’t make me think” + “Rocket Surgery Made Easy” – Steve Krug

Steven Krug can be considered as the godfather of usability and user testing. Those 2 books are classics to read on usability and user testing. They are a little bit “dated”, but still provide a nice base for the discipline.

Where to find it: Don’t make me think: Author’s page –  Amazon | Rocket Surgery Made Easy: Author’s pageAmazon

Interviewing for research: a pocket guide to design research – Andrew Travers

Want to learn how to conduct user research and interviews? This is a small free 60 pages quick field guide to help you get started: recruitment, preparation, conducting the interview, documentation and synthesis. Also the book is available for free on the author’s site, yeahy.

Where to find it: Free on author’s page

How to recruit participants for usability studies – Deborah Hinderer Sova and Jakob Nielsen

A free 234 pages guidelines on how to set up, recruit and manage users for your usability tests.

Where to find it: NN Group page

UX Design & Psychology

Design for Cognitive Bias – David Dylan Thomas

We  like to think we know why we take decisions, that our memory is perfect. It’s not. 95% of cognition, choices happens below the threshold of conscious thought. David wrote this amazing guide on how to navigate our own brains. This book will help you understand different biases: users, stakeholders and your own. It’s packed with examples inside and outside the digital world on how those biases might affect people. But also how to harness those to bring good to products and the world.

Where to find it: A Book Apart

Psychology for designers – Joe Leech

This a a pocket book you can quickly read that will give you advice on how to use and find psychology theories and apply them to your designs.

Where to find it: psychologyfordesigners.com

Designing for Emotion – Aarron Walter

The reference book to start learning how to design for emotions and build a memorable experience by the design lead at MailChimp

Where to find it: A Book Apart

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People – Susan M. Weinschenk

Psychology theory is sometimes scary but Susan does a great job at making those theories accessible and easy to understand. I really like the format of the book: 100 little cheat sheets organized in different categories with practical takeaways for each theory. This is one of those books you keep on your desk and refer back to when you need it.

Where to find it: Amazon

100 More Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People  – Susan M. Weinschenk

Not it’s not a typo, the important word is “more”. Susan is back with even more theories to help you understand how people’s brains work, yeahy!

Where to find it: Amazon

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less – Barry Schwartz

This is one of those “basics to read books” when it comes to psychology. It’s a great book to understand how humans work and how they take (or don’t take) decisions. Keep in mind it was written in 2004 though.

Where to find it: Amazon

Information Architecture & Content Strategy

Everyday information architecture – Lisa Maria Marquis

This book is a great introduction to information architecture (obviously). Information architecture focuses on structuring, organizing and labelling content on your site so that can find it and use it different ways. This is a really practical books with lots of examples from Lisa’s project. Lisa examples how to conduct a content audit, how to build and structure categories, labels and different tags and taxonomies. She explains how to analyse the site structure and how to build sitemaps. Finally she shows different structures of navigation and way-finding for you users. This book helped me a lot on my current project. I have 400 different pages with a lot of super heavy content. The book gave me a framework and structure to help me make sense of all of that content for a redesign and migration. I highly recommend it to every designer!

Where to find it: A Book Apart

How to make sense of any mess – Abby Covert

I loved that book. It is a beginner’s guide to information architecture split into 7 chapters that will guide you through a journey to help you better understand how to structure, mostly anything (but especially websites). Each chapter contains examples, lessons, but also graphs and exercises. It’s a great book for beginners. And even if I’m not a beginner, I ended up smiling, nodding and underlining a lot of parts because Abby has a really amazing way to explain those complex concepts. 100% recommend it!

Where to find it: Abby’s WebsiteFree version online

Design ethics, diversity and creativity

Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech – Sara Wachter-Boettcher

A must read to understand how techno-solutionism messed up the world, creating biases product and services that will discriminate “at best” some people, become a nightmare for some others. Sexist, racist, and biased design and development practices create toxic tech that harms users and society. And she gives practical advice on how to be aware and critical of what we use. And how we can demand more ethical and inclusive tech from the companies that create them.

Where to find it: Amazon

Extra Bold – A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-racist, Nonbinary Field Guide for Graphic Designers

This is a collaboration of different contents related to design on topics like feminism, inclusivity, anti-racism, non binarity, etc. written by a diverse team of authors to rethink design principles and practices. There’s interviews, essays, some comic books, survival guides and a lot of other amazing formats that make this book a piece of art as well. This is why  I got the paper version, I’m not sure if it is nice as an ebook.

Where to find it: Amazon // ExtraBold

Design for Real Life – Sara Wachter-Boettcher & Eric A. Meyer

A great book on how to design with compassion, integrity and make sure none is left out or even worse, made feel bad when using your products and services. Sara and Eric have some great examples of what happens when things go bad and how to avoid this.

Where to find it: A Book Apart

Ruined by Design – Mike Monteiro

An interesting exploration on how design choices, from technology interfaces to product designs, have contributed to environmental degradation, social issues, and ethical dilemmas. The book challenges us to recognize our political responsibilities. It also tries to provide some tools to help us make more informed, ethical decisions

Where to find it: Amazon

Steal like an artist – Austin Kleon

A small book featuring 10 “tips” to help you become a creative person and get over the “blank page” fear.

Where to find it: Author’s pageAmazon

UI & Web Design practical guide

Designing for the Web – Mark Boulton

This is a nice introduction to help you design websites. It covers some generic advice on workflow, the research and ideation phase and goes deeper into typography, color, layout with detailed examples of different websites. Remember that the book was written in 2009 thought so the examples look outdated, but the design theories and advice are still pretty accurate.

Where to find it: designingfortheweb.co.uk (read the book online or download it for free!)

Refactoring UI – Adam Wathan & Steve Schoger

This is not just an ebook, but a whole package with videos, online lessons, etc. The promise of Refactoring UI: explain design tactics to developers. And it works! Not only for developers! The authors cover hierarchy, layout, spacing, text, color, working with depth and images to the finishing touches to help you bring your UIs to the next level.

Where to find it: refactoringui.com

On Web Typography – Jason Santa Maria

This book focuses on one particular aspect of web and UI design: typography. The author explains how people read, how typography works and different methods and tips to evaluate and pair typefaces. A good introduction to help you avoid typography faux pas!

Where to find it: A Book Apart

Combining typefaces – Tim Brown

This is one of those “pocket guides” that are now available for free since  Five Simple Steps closed. It’s a nice quick to read practical guide to help you get the right typography choices for your designs.

Where to find it: Blog Typekit (for free)

Design methods, workflows & collaboration

Atomic Design – Brad Frost

From atoms, to molecules, organismes, templates and pages, Brad offers and interesting method to build strong and versatile design systems that will scale and how to maintain them.

Where to find it: Author’s book page or Read it for free online

Design Systems: A practical guide to creating design languages for digital products – Alla Kholmatova

Alla researched a lot about how the design systems of different companies and products where built and bring you all this knowledge in this great book. It’s a great introduction to the process of building a design system. If you thought you could just copy/paste a Sketch file from a previous client, I (or Alla) hate to break it to you, but this is not how it works. The book is split in 2 parts : the foundation is about really understanding what a design system is and the “process” part will help you get your hands dirty.

Where to find it: Smashing Magazine

Mobile, touch & responsive

Content Strategy for Mobile –  Karen McGrane

I might be biased because I love Karen, but this book is one of my number one references when it comes down to content strategy. She wrote this in 2012 and I still use some of the methods she wrote about today (2019) in workshops to help me build a strong content strategy and hierarchy, not only for mobile but across different screen sizes. Because “You don’t get to decide which platform or device your customers use to access your content: they do”.

Where to find it: A Book Apart

Responsive Web Design – Ethan Marcotte

The “Bible” for responsive web design. It was written in 2010, things have changed since, but still quite a nice reference to read and help you get started. This book has some code examples to help you practise.

Where to find it: A Book Apart

Mobile First – Luke Wroblewski

While Ethan’s book focuses on “desktop to mobile”, Luke’s book helps you understand how to build a mobile, starting from smaller screens. There’s no code examples but the book focuses more on strategy, the whys and hows.

Where to find it: A Book Apart

Designing for Touch – Josh Clark

Understanding touch size, gestures and how touch devices work is an essential’s part of design today. This book focuses on the usability of touch interfaces but also provides a few code examples to help you implement touch friendly interactions

Where to find it: A Book Apart

Going Responsive – Karen McGrane

While Ethan, Luke and Josh’s previous books focus on “how”, this book focuses on the “why” and the strategic part of responsive web design. If you still need some arguments to convince people and a plan to approach a big responsive redesign, this book will help you! Keep in mind it was written in 2015 though.

Where to find it: A Book Apart

Responsive Design Workflow – Stephen Hay

This is another book that changed the way I work. Stephen goes deep into the “how” to build responsive website and offers quite a few interesting ideas to help you build your own process. Ever heard of designing for breakpoints and breakpoint graphs?

Where to find it: responsivedesignworkflow.comAmazon


Accessibility for Everyone – Laura Kalbag

A great guide to help you get started in the field of accessibility: understanding disabilities, laws, guidelines, planning, testing and evaluating accessibility, etc. This book will demystify a few concepts for you before you can jump into the whole ARIA WCAG complexity.

Where to find it: Author’s pageA Book Apart

Color accessibility workflows – Geri Coady

This was a really great book on color accessibility to learn about colour-blindness, choosing appropriate colors, to learn how to test your designs, provide alternatives when it doesn’t work, etc.

Where to find it: A Book Apart

Business, collaboration & strategy

Design is a Job – Mike Monteiro

A must read book on everything that goes “around” running a design business: contracts, selling design, brief, meetings, etc. A MUST read, especially if you want to freelance.

Where to find it: A Book Apart 

You’re My Favorite Client  – Mike Monteiro

The second book of Mike Monteiro focuses on the topic of “how to make design decisions”. Mike demystifies the design process and helps you better communicate with clients, stakeholders, team members and make the whole collaboration process go smoother.

Where to find it: A Book Apart 

Resilient Management – Lara Hogan

I wrote a longer review here. This book will help you better communicate with coworkers and build stronger teams. It’s full of frameworks to help you and really good advice.

Where to find it: A Book Apart 

The “other” books that don’t fit on those design categories

Demystifying Public Speaking –  Lara Hogan

I wrote a longer review here, basically the book you need if you start public speaking (and if you continue as well)

Where to find it: Author’s pageA Book Apart Read if for free online

Animation at Work – Rachel Nabors

This is not only a book about CSS animations, it’s also about understanding the human perception of animations, what purpose they serve on a website and how to communicate them with your teams.

Where to find it: A Book Apart 

Other places to find books

I am not the only one who shares her book’s list. So here are a few other places to find some books to read:

My favorite editors for design and technical books

I tend to love the format of most books from A Book Apart because they are small, practical, easy to read and well formatted on my Kindle. Smashing Library has a also a great selection of ebook, and the Smashing books are always a delight to read.