Several years ago on Twitter, I stumbled across a hashtag that aligned to a project I was working on with “friendly” user interfaces. #UX was the tag, and “user experience” was its meaning. For weeks, I followed the discussions and posts with this hashtag (I’ve been a Tweetdeck fiend using such searches since my earliest days on Twitter). Certain names were recurring in blogs and tweets: Don Norman, Jess James Garrett, Bill Moggridge, Steve Krug. I’m an insatiable readers, so after the blogs, I bought and borrowed tons of books. Now that the dust has settled, I still remember and reference these three books regarding user experience regularly, so I strongly recommend them to anyone looking into the space.
The Design of Everyday Things
by Don Norman
Have you ever pushed on a door handle that had a pull? Do you get frustrated by the crazy water activation devices (formerly known as faucets) in restaurant bathrooms? Can you navigate your car with the dashboard GPS panel? We are surrounded by user interfaces, and sometimes designers or engineers lose us in translation. They break a rule to be cute or make something too complicated, and the result is lost time, tested patience, and mistakes. Don Norman, the godfather of UX, has written several books illustrating “good vs. evil” on this topic, and the book “The Design of Everyday Things” is easily the most popular and valuable.
by Bill Moggridge
Bill Moggridge is another elder statesman of UX, having worked at places like Apple and IDEO. If you are curious about the history of innovative UX, the book “Designing Interactions” is the bible. Moggridge was there for Mouse 1.0. He was there for early Apple computer interfaces and the maturation of UX into a must-know discipline for successful technology products.
Don’t Make Me Think
by Steve Krug
How do you know if your user interface will work well? You have to test. Steve Krug has written a couple of key books on UX and testing (Rocket Surgery Made Easy), which will give you your litmus tests for your work. The key here is usability without spending a million hours and a billion dollars. How do you get to great without spending a fortune? Read “Don’t Make Me Think” and “Rocket Surgery Made Easy“!
The Growth of Importance of User Experience
User interfaces continue to evolve as user experience continues to become more important to the success of products. If you’re new to the concepts, start here, and even if you’ve been working in the industry for a long time, they’re worth a brush-up. If you encounter a horrible screen on your microwave oven, misplaced buttons on an elevator control panel, or a confusing search interface on a website, you’ll remember these books on UX and laugh to yourself, knowing why it all happened. More importantly, you won’t be building those products!