Read these 3 books to instantly boost your design game by 10,433%

Not gonna lie — that number is pulled straight out of a donkey. But it’s done so to illustrate a fact: after reading these 3 books, you’re sure as hell going to feel like ascending to a whole new level of design thinking. So treat that outrageous percentage as a hyperbole, OK?

A warning: skimming is not reading. If you want to get the most out of any book, you have to really dig into it. Pick it apart. Take notes. Highlight stuff. Most importantly: implement. Advice won’t do you any good if you don’t use it.

Now… on to the listicle.

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Chances are, you’ve heard about this one. It’s also possible you’ve skipped it because “I design for the Web, why would I need to know about the design of a doorknob?”.

You’d be surprised.

While the examples in this book might be a bit dated (it was first published in 1988, after all), Don Norman was able to brilliantly capture and present the underlying principles of good design, which are timeless. That’s the main lesson you will take away from this book: how to make designs usable, relevant, and—once again—timeless.

TDOET will make you think twice before ever again taking good design for granted, which is a curse in and of itself, because good design should be invisible.

design of everyday things book

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Don’t make me think by Steve Krug

Listen. Never… NEVER EVER has one book been circulated and recommended to peers in the design industry as much as this one.

I’m cautious to even mention it because of the impression that, unless you’ve been pushing pixels under a rock, you’ve probably read at least one or two quotes from this book. No? Well, you might have, but just didn’t realise it.

Steve Krug’s book, similarly to TDOET, emphasises on the concept that good design just IS. More often than not, it remains unnoticeable to the untrained eye. The difference between the two is that “Don’t make me think” delves more deeply into the digital realm instead of the physical one, which should take you closer to everyday UI and UX problems.


Don’t make me think by Steve Krug

Microinteractions by Dan Saffer

“The devil is in the details”. So is great user experience. If you design for the Web and/or make apps, I’m willing to bet you’ve designed micro-interactions. Maybe you just didn’t know it.

To put it in Layman’s terms, they’re tiny action-response mechanisms in the design that gives users feedback and informs on the status of the system. Think notifications, swipe animations, and loading SVGs. 

Still sounds confusing? Well, it kind of is… if you’re trying to cram the whole concept into a single sentence (or even a paragraph). Dan Saffer, on the other hand, expands on the topic enough to justify a whole book, so definitely put that on your to-read list.

Or, if you’re lazy and want a condensed version, we have an article written by our very own UX aficionado – Milda. Grab a coffee and expand your knowledge on micro-interactions significantly in 5-10 minutes.


Microinteractions by Dan Saffer

Thoughts on “learning” design

While definitely eye-opening, these 3 books are not the be-all-end-all of your design education. Think of it as a path to your actual path of design learning, which is a book still waiting to be written (hint: by you). 

Like most creative fields, the design is a study of things that are, and at the same time — are not. While this might sound confusing, it simply means that you’re mastering something that has some underlying foundations and good practices, but the majority of which is yet to be uncovered by hours of crafting, experimenting, and failing.

In other words… that’s creativity for ya.