Reading List

The books I have read over the course of the last year have contributed to a huge shift in my thinking and broadened both my skills and design thinking capabilities. I’ve put together a list with a short description of each book which will hopefully prove useful for anyone interested in design.

Don Norman - The Design of Everyday Things

If you want to become a usability snob, then read this book. It will broaden your awareness of design in the real world and allow you to appreciate that every object has been subject to some form of design. Although, as Norman points out on many occasions; many of the objects we interact with daily have been poorly designed.

You will never use many everyday products again without experiencing some level of frustration, but your ability to appreciate and create highly usable and well designed products will improve greatly.

Don Norman - Emotional Design

While the previous book is very much focused on bad design and how to avoid it. Emotional Design explores the relationship between well designed products and our emotions. What makes us fall in love with a product? Every designer should be aware of the concepts in this book such as the aesthetic-usability effect..

Malcolm Gladwell - The Tipping Point

What makes ideas spread? If you want to gain an understanding of epidemics then this is a great book to read. By understanding connectors, mavens and salesmen you can learn the principles of word of mouth marketing and how to apply these to your own products.

Seth Godin - The Purple Cow

A great book to accompany The Tipping Point; to create products that people want to talk about, you must create great products that stand out. The Purple Cow demonstrates some great examples of how to stand out from the crowd and describes important theories such as Everett Rodgers diffusion of innovations which is hugely important to anyone trying market their product.

Malcolm Gladwell - Outliers

Outliers provides the stories on how some of the worlds most successful people made it, including Silicon Valley heavyweights such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. You’ll also learn; that to become an expert in your field, it’s going to require you put in 10,000 hours of hard graft.

Seth Godin - Linchpin

Asides from discovering how to become indispensable at what you do, Linchpin will enable you to understand the various thoughts that hold you back from getting things done and how to overcome them. This book will teach you how to ship.

Aarron Walter - Designing for Emotion

If your interested in emotional design and creating designs that really connect with people, then this book is a great introduction – it’s much shorter and lighter reading than Don Norman’s Emotional Design. However it is solely focused on web design but there are some great, fun examples from many modern and successful products. If your interested in the area of emotion and psychology, I also recommend reading Don Norman’s book as well.

Cennydd Bowles and James Box - Undercover User Experience Design

Learn about UX design processes and how to apply these in situations where your boss or client is uninterested in the idea of user experience. A great book for anyone involved in web design. There is some great, in depth advice on properly defining the problem -something which can often be overlooked when entering the design phase prematurely.

John Maeda - The Laws Of Simplicity

Mr Maeda has defined ten laws for keeping things simple that can be applied to design, business or life in general. A very useful book; these principles will provide valuable considerations when your designing any product.

Brian X Chen - Always On

With the explosion of smart devices and the ability to be constantly connected to the internet, Always On looks at some of the revolutionary benefits of this new culture, but it will also get you thinking about some of the negative effects resulting from our dependency on technology.

Chris Anderson - Free

Many products now benefit from innovative new business models such as freemium, this book will give you a solid understanding on how on freemium works and the power of giving something away for free to profit in other areas. A useful book for anyone working on web app business models.

Scott McCloud - Understanding Comics

The title may be a little off putting and although this book is about the language of comics, the principles can be applied to all forms of visual communication, especially graphic and web design. This is a very unique book that will give you a new perspective on design and should be on every designers bookshelf.

Dan Zambonni - Web App Success

If your building a web app, then this book is a must read. There is some very solid advice on every aspect of creating an app, including some excellent information on defining and understanding your target market, pricing as well interface design and development.

37 Signals - Getting Real

If your working on a web app, you must read this book. Everything you know about project management, design and development processes and common practices will be completely turned on it’s head in favour of more agile approaches that focus on getting things done. You can read Getting Real online for free - so there’s no excuse. Also, read their other book – Rework.

Mike Monteiro - Design is a Job

If your operating as a freelancer or running a design business, you will find this book very useful, especially for anyone starting out. Learn how to charge for jobs, communicate with clients effectively and how to be a professional. There has been a need within the industry for a book like this for a while now; it’s very well written with an element of humour as well.

Susan Weinchenk - Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

If your interested in the relationship between design and psychology, then this is a fantastic read. What drives people to make purchases online? Some fascinating information on social validation, storytelling and various other principles you can use to influence people online.

Vincent NG - The Art of Conversation

A great book for developing your communication skills; learn about verbal communication, body language, psychology and storytelling that will serve you well if you want to improve your presentation, networking or copywriting skills. Learning to make people feel that it’s all about them is a very powerful tool for social influence and selling products.

Alex Osterwalders & Yves Pigneur - Business Model Generation

Not a design book but I found this very useful for creating business models for the different projects I’m working on. This is not a boring business book, it’s very much about innovative business models. It’s interesting, easy to read and will give you a solid understanding of how a business model works and it’s various components. If your involved in a startup, then this book is for you.