15 UX Design Books to Help Create User-Centric Products

15 UX Design Books to Help Create User-Centric Products cover

Looking for UX design books that offer practical wisdom and show you how to get better?

Whether you’re a complete novice out for beginner lessons or a veteran in search of expert-level knowledge, you’ll find the right books for you.

We covered:

  • A general overview of the books.
  • How each book improves your UX design skills.
  • Author information and where to get the books


Beginner-friendly books to learn the UX design process and boost your creative confidence:

UX books for experienced designers:

UX books to cultivate a deep understanding of user psychology:

UX design books that share practical advice for UX writing:

Userpilot can help you deliver better product experiences at every stage of the user journey. Book a demo now to discuss your UX needs with our team.

Beginner-friendly books to learn the UX design process and boost creative confidence

Are you starting your UX design journey or simply curious about what the field is about? The books in this section give you the details you need for a good head start.

1. UX for Beginners: A Crash Course in 100 Short Lessons by Joel Marsh

Don’t be fooled by the bite-sized lessons—this book packs a punch. Based on Joel Marsh’s popular UX Crash Course blog, covers the fundamentals of UX design in 100 concise, easy-to-digest chapters.

Expect practical tips, real-life examples (including rubber ducks and naked ninjas!), and the author’s signature witty humor to keep you engaged. The book covers a wide range of topics, from user research and interaction design to information architecture and usability testing, making it perfect for absolute beginners with no design background.

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Key Learnings

  • Fundamental UX design principles in a clear, concise manner.
  • Practical advice and tips for applying UX design in real-world projects.
  • Understanding user behavior and how to design for optimal user experience.
  • The importance of user testing and iterative design.

About the author

Joel Marsh is a user experience design veteran with over 20 years of experience. He’s passionate about demystifying UX and making it accessible to everyone. He runs the popular blog The Hipper Element and frequently speaks at conferences worldwide.

2. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

“Don’t Make Me Think” is considered a classic in the world of web usability and an all-time favorite for most UX designers. The book’s title reflects its core philosophy: that a well-designed product should be intuitive and easy to use, requiring minimal cognitive effort (‘thinking’) from the user.

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Key learnings

  • Understand user psychology and navigation patterns.
  • See how to make UI design that minimizes thinking and effort
  • Identify common usability mistakes and how to avoid them for successful UX designs.
  • Learn how to develop effective website navigation and information architecture.
  • Understand how to communicate usability findings to developers and stakeholders.

About the author

Steve Krug is an independent web usability consultant and author of several UX design books. He’s known for his practical approach and engaging writing style, making complex UX concepts accessible to a wide audience.

3. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

“The Design of Everyday Things” is a seminal work that explores the relationship between objects and their users.

Norman discusses the psychology of everyday actions, revealing how good design can make users’ lives more efficient and enjoyable.

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Key Learnings

  • Understand the difference between slips and mistakes in UX design
  • Learn about the seven principles of good design (discoverability, feedback, conceptual model, affordance, signifiers, mappings, and constraints).
  • Find keys to designing complex products without risking user confusion.
  • Understand the role of cognitive psychology in user experience design.

About the author

Don Norman is a cognitive scientist, designer, and professor emeritus at the University of California, San Diego. He’s considered one of the founding fathers of user-centered design and continues to influence the field through his writing and research.

4. Product Rantz by Emilia Korczynska

This refreshing and honest book takes a provocative and critical look at the world of product design.

Emilia Korczynska challenges conventional wisdom and exposes the dark side of the industry, from unrealistic deadlines and toxic work environments to the pressure to prioritize user engagement over user needs.

Her personal stories and insightful commentary provide a unique perspective for aspiring user experience designers.

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Key Learnings

  • Insights into the common pitfalls in product design and management.
  • Strategies for effective communication within product teams.
  • Approaches for aligning UX design with business objectives.
  • User-centric design thinking and its application in product development

About the author

Emilia Korczynska is currently the head of marketing at Userpilot. She’s known for her outspoken opinions and passion for creating user-centered products that make a difference.

5. The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley

“The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide” is a practical guide the UX designers who find themselves working solo or in a small team.

Leah Buley provides a toolkit of methodologies, strategies, and tactics that are particularly useful when resources are limited.

The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley
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Key Learnings

  • Techniques for effectively conducting UX research and design with limited resources.
  • Strategies for advocating for UX within an organization.
  • Practical tips for juggling multiple roles and responsibilities in a small team or as a solo UX designer.
  • Methods for iterative design and rapid prototyping.

About the author

Leah Buley is an experienced consumer insights and user research professional who has worked in various roles across the UX spectrum.

She is known for her work in promoting user-centered design in organizations and has a background that combines design, research, and strategy. Buley’s experience in both large corporations and as a solo UX practitioner gives her a unique perspective on the challenges faced by UX teams.

6. Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug

You can think of this book as a follow-up to “Don’t Make Me Think” by the same author (we reviewed it earlier).

“Rocket Surgery Made Easy” empowers non-experts to conduct guerrilla usability testing and identify design flaws in their products.

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Key Learnings

  • A step-by-step guide to conducting effective usability tests with limited resources.
  • Tips for identifying common usability problems and how to fix them.
  • Techniques for involving your team in the testing process to enhance buy-in and understanding.
  • Simplifying the process of usability testing to make it accessible to everyone.

About the author

Steve Krug is an independent web usability consultant and author of several UX design books. He’s known for his practical approach and engaging writing style, making complex UX concepts accessible to a wide audience.

UX books for advanced UX designers

Got some experience under your belt and looking for books to help you and your team get better? You can’t go wrong with any of these three books:

7. Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf, Josh Seiden

“Lean UX” is a groundbreaking book that applies the principles of Lean and Agile methodologies to the field of user experience. It’s designed for advanced UX practitioners looking to integrate UX design into a more iterative, team-based, and user-centric approach.

The book emphasizes the importance of collaboration among cross-functional teams and the need for continuous user feedback.

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Key Learnings

  • Steps for applying lean principles and Agile methodologies to UX design.
  • Techniques for building MVPs and iterative design processes.
  • Strategies for effective collaboration in cross-functional teams.
  • Methods for integrating continuous user feedback into your user experience design process.

About the authors

Jeff Gothelf is a recognized leader in the Agile UX field and a speaker on the topics of Agile, UX, and Lean methodologies.

Josh Seiden is a designer, strategy consultant, and Agile practitioner. Both authors have extensive experience in the application of Lean and Agile processes to UX design, making their insights particularly relevant for advanced practitioners.

8. Build Better Products: A Modern Approach to Building Successful User-Centered Products by Laura Klein

This is a comprehensive guide for UX professionals looking to refine their approach to building user-centered products. It goes beyond basic design principles and delves into the strategic aspects of product development.

Klein emphasizes the importance of understanding user needs, market trends, and business goals. The book covers topics such as effective user research, hypothesis-driven design, and how to create products that not only meet user needs but also align with business objectives.

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Key Learnings

  • Strategies for aligning product design with business goals.
  • Advanced techniques in user research and data-driven design.
  • Methods for hypothesis-driven development and testing.
  • Insights into balancing user needs with market demands.

About the author

Laura Klein is a product management and UX expert with a focus on Lean startup techniques and user-centered design.

She has extensive experience in both designing and managing products, offering a blend of practical and strategic insights that are particularly valuable for advanced UX practitioners.

9. Refactoring UI by Adam Wathan and Steve Schoger

“Refactoring UI” by Adam Wathan and Steve Schoger is a unique and practical guide aimed at helping designers and developers improve the aesthetics and usability of their interfaces.

The book provides actionable advice and techniques for refactoring UIs, focusing on making interfaces more intuitive and visually appealing.

Unlike conventional UX design books, this one is filled with before-and-after examples that illustrate how small changes can significantly improve a design.

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Key Learnings

  • Practical tips for enhancing the visual appeal of interfaces.
  • Techniques for improving the usability and intuitiveness of designs.
  • Insights into color theory, typography, and layout in UI design.
  • Strategies for balancing aesthetic considerations with functional design.

About the authors

Adam Wathan is a developer, designer, and entrepreneur known for his expertise in creating user-friendly interfaces. Steve Schoger is a graphic designer with a focus on digital products.

Their combined expertise in both design and development provides a well-rounded perspective on how to approach UI refactoring effectively.

UX books to understand user psychology

As a UX designer, it’s easy to get into your head and build products based on what you think users should love.

While your hard skills will enable you to create something worthy, having a deep understanding of human psychology helps you roll out designs that truly stand out.

The ideas in the books below can make the difference between products users tolerate and ones they can’t wait to get their hands on:

10. Thinking, Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman is a seminal work in understanding human decision-making and behavioral economics.

Though not exclusively a UX book, it’s highly relevant for UX designers seeking to understand the psychological underpinnings of user behavior. The book divides thought processes into two systems: the fast, intuitive, and emotional System 1, and the slower, more deliberative, and logical System 2.

Using engaging stories and real-world examples, Kahneman unveils the biases and heuristics that influence human decisions, judgments, and behavior.

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Key Learnings

  • Insight into the dual systems of thought that drive human decisions.
  • Understanding of various cognitive biases and how they affect user behavior.
  • Implications of human psychology in designing interfaces and experiences.
  • Strategies for designing products that align with natural human thinking patterns.

About the author

Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences, renowned for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making. He is considered one of the most influential psychologists alive, bringing deep insights into the cognitive processes that govern human behavior—the kind of stuff you’ll find in UX design books.

11. The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

In this thought-provoking book, psychologist Barry Schwartz argues that having too many choices can be paralyzing and ultimately detrimental to our happiness and well-being.

He explores how an abundance of options creates anxiety, decision fatigue, and dissatisfaction, leading to lower life satisfaction and eroded self-esteem.

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Key Learnings

  • Exploration of how the abundance of choices impacts consumer well-being.
  • Strategies for simplifying choices in product design to improve user experience.
  • Insights into decision-making processes and how to facilitate better user decisions.
  • The psychological impact of choice overload and how to mitigate it.

About the author

Barry Schwartz is a psychologist and an author known for his research on the intersection of psychology and economics. His work focuses on the effects of modern society’s abundance of choice on human welfare, providing valuable insights for UX designers in simplifying user decisions.

12. Just Enough Research by Erika Hall

“Just Enough Research” is a concise and practical guide to user research in the design process. The book is tailored for UX designers and product teams who need to balance the need for research with time and resource constraints.

Hall emphasizes the importance of doing ‘just enough’ research to inform design decisions without getting bogged down in analysis paralysis. The book covers a variety of research methods, from qualitative interviews to quantitative surveys, and how to apply these findings effectively in UX design.

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Key Learnings

  • Effective and efficient methods for user research.
  • Balancing depth and breadth in research to inform design decisions.
  • Techniques for synthesizing research findings into actionable insights.
  • Strategies for integrating research into the iterative design process.

About the author

Erika Hall is a co-founder of Mule Design Studio and has been working in the field of digital design since the late 1990s. Her expertise lies in the intersection of design, technology, and communication, with a particular focus on the role of research in the design process. Her pragmatic research approach is especially useful for advanced UX practitioners.

UX design books that share practical advice for UX writing

Proper UX writing is a crucial ingredient in designing interfaces that are user-friendly and help users get tasks done with ease. The three books below will show you how to write well:

13. Microcopy: The Complete Guide by Kinneret Yifrah

This book delves deep into the world of microcopy—the small, contextual pieces of text in user interfaces that guide and interact with users.

The ideas shared in this piece will help UX designers and writers who want to refine their skills in crafting effective and engaging interface text. Yifrah provides practical advice on how to write a clear, concise, and compelling microcopy that enhances the user experience.

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Key Learnings

  • Strategies for using microcopy to guide users and reduce confusion.
  • Insights into the role of tone and voice in microcopy.
  • Best practices for testing and refining microcopy.
  • Practical examples and case studies from companies like Google, Airbnb, and Slack, illustrate how good microcopy can make a difference.

About the author

Kinneret Yifrah is a microcopy expert specializing in user experience writing for digital products. She has extensive experience in creating engaging and user-friendly text for a wide range of interfaces.

14. Strategic Writing for UX by Torrey Podmajersky

This is a comprehensive guide that covers the intersection of UX design and content strategy. The book offers insights into how to craft user-centric copy that helps users interact with products more effectively.

Podmajersky provides practical tips on writing for different types of user experiences, from websites and apps to software and social media. She emphasizes the importance of aligning copy with broader business and design goals to create cohesive and intuitive user experiences.

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Key Learnings

  • Principles of writing user-centered UX copy.
  • Strategies for aligning UX writing with business and design objectives.
  • Techniques for writing for different types of user interfaces.
  • Approaches for measuring and improving the effectiveness of UX copy.

About the author

Torrey Podmajersky has worked in various roles, including UX writer, content strategist, and interaction designer. Her experience across these fields gives her a unique perspective on how writing and design intersect to create user-friendly experiences.

15. Writing Is Designing: Words and the User Experience by Michael J. Metts & Andy Welfle

This is a forward-thinking book that elevates the role of writing in the UX design process. The authors argue that writing is an integral part of designing a user experience, not just a final touch, so they offer insights into how to use words effectively to create more accessible, inclusive, and engaging digital products.

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Key Learnings

  • The integral role of writing in the UX design process.
  • Techniques for making digital products more accessible and inclusive through writing.
  • Strategies for collaborating effectively with design teams.
  • Approaches to integrating user research into UX writing.

About the authors

Michael J. Metts and Andy Welfle are both experienced UX professionals with a focus on writing. Metts’ background in journalism and Welfle’s experience in content strategy combine to provide a comprehensive look at how effective writing can enhance user experience.


So what book should you start with? It all depends on your experience level and current needs.

At the risk of being biased, we recommend starting with Product Rantz written by our marketing head, Emilia Korczynska. While it’s more beginner-friendly, the book contains ideas that anyone will find useful. You can also sign up for the Product Rantz newsletter to get a weekly dose of PLG and UX education.

Did you know? Userpilot can help you deliver better product experiences at every stage of the user journey. Book a demo now to discuss your UX needs with our team.

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