We’ve already covered our summer reading picks for some great blogs to keep you entertained this summer, but sometimes you don’t want to bring your phone or tablet to the beach with you. Here are our picks for some good old-fashioned paper books (remember those?).
Stick any of these in your beach bag for some truly offline, unplugged reading.
1) Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Steve Krug’s popular book on UX design is a classic for a reason. Krug’s surprisingly simple design ethos – that websites should provide users with the easiest, most direct experience possible – translates into useful advice for improving your site’s usability. And his human-centric approach to explaining the relationship between people and their computers makes for great reading.
Bonus: the updated edition also covers mobile design.
2) The Design of Everyday Things
Don Norman’s design bible isn’t directly related to web design, but the book is still required reading for web designers and developers. It might be more than 25 years old, but the book’s insights about how design impacts human behaviour and psychology still feel fresh and relevant.
If you want to understand the difference between design that works and design that flops, pick this one up.
View on Amazon: The Design of Everyday Things
3) Smashing UX Design: Foundations for Designing Online User Experiences
This is one of the best UX reference books on the market. Brought to you by UX veterans Jesmond Allen and James Chudley, it provides a great overview of UX and user-centred design principles, and guides readers through common design and research techniques.
The book is accessible and incredibly useful, and it’s packed full of case studies, guides, and how-tos. If you want to take a deep dive into UX design, this is the ideal resource.
4) Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
This is great summer reading for designers looking for a creative recharge. Billing itself as a “manifesto for the digital age”, the book is a guide to getting inspired, and finding, harnessing and using your creativity.
The book’s premise – that you don’t have to be a genius to be creative – is a refreshing take on creativity that makes it feel accessible and achievable.
5) Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation
In this New York Times bestseller, Steven Johnson tries to answer the age-old question – how do we come up with great ideas?
Jumping off from the premise that good inventions start from good ideas, Johnson looks at the key patterns that tend to spark great innovations in everything from the printing press to the battery, to the Google search.
View on Amazon: Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation
6) 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
A designer’s guide to understanding people, this book covers the human side of the design process. Author Susan Weinschenk’s premise is simple, but easy to forget: designers do design in order to nudge their audience into action – whether that action is subscribing to a newsletter, clicking a link, or buying a product.
The book offers up advice for how designers can harness the way people think, feel, and see in order to do that job better.
View on Amazon: 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
7) Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click
If you want to know why people decide to buy a product online, click ‘subscribe’ or navigate away from your site (hint: it’s all influenced by your unconscious, automatic triggers and emotions), this book will satisfy your curiosity about the way our brains interact with technology and web design.
View on Amazon: Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click
8) Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better
A great guide for anyone who wants an in-depth guide to what usability really is, why it’s important, and how you can use it.
Written by UX expert Eric Reiss, the book’s real strength is that it covers nearly every UX problem (and solution) in the book, and it gives good advice on how to put usability principles into action.
View on Amazon: Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better
9) Measuring the User Experience
Metric-phobes, this one’s for you. This book is not exactly light and fluffy beach reading, but it’s useful nonetheless.
Authors Tom Tullis and Bill Albert will guide you through everything you need to know about using metrics to measure and improve the usability of your website.
View on Amazon: Measuring the User Experience
10) Everything I Know
This book comes from Paul Jarvis, a designer, writer and strategist-extraordinaire. It’s a guide for creatives looking to carve out a fulfilling path and achieve their loftiest goals.
The book might sound like it veers into self-help territory (the blurb includes phrases like “embrace vulnerability”, and “conquer your fear”) but don’t be fooled – Jarvis is a seriously talented writer whose insights are fresh, inspiring, and blunt (in a good way).
View on Amazon: Everything I Know
11) Mobile Design Book
This is a great guide for designers who are diving into mobile development for apps or websites. The book covers mobile and responsive design principles to help you get a grasp on what makes mobile apps successful (and what makes them fail).
It’s a super-quick read, but it’s packed full of good information.
View on Amazon: Mobile Design Book
12) Service Design: From Insight to Implementation
Last but not least, this guide to service design is worth picking up. The book focuses on bringing design-consciousness to all kinds of services, and it encourages readers to question how service designs and systems that have “just happened” organically can be improved by thoughtful and deliberate design.
It’s a great reminder of why UX is important, and what we can do with it.
View on Amazon: Service Design: From Insight to Implementation
Those are all the books we’ll be stuffing in our beach bags this summer (you can check out what we’ll be reading online here). But we’re always looking for more great reads – if we’ve missed out on any essentials, let us know in the comments.