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Sharpen your Design Thinking with these 7 Great books

Updated September 2, 2023

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Design thinking is a human-centered approach to problem-solving. It involves understanding the needs of the people you are designing for, brainstorming solutions, and testing those solutions. Design thinking can be used to solve a wide variety of problems, from creating new products to improving existing ones.

Getting better at design thinking comes from learning from others. There are many books, articles, and online resources available that can teach you about design thinking.

Design is all around us, from the products we use to the spaces we inhabit. It can make our lives easier, more enjoyable, and more meaningful. If you’re interested in learning more about UX design, here are seven must-read books:

design thinking

1. Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web and Mobile Usability

Dont Make Me Think is a classic in the field of usability, and it is full of practical advice on how to create better website designs

It is full of practical advice on how to create clear, easy-to-navigate websites and apps.

Highlights of the book:

  • The importance of visibility. This means clarifying what is happening and what they can do to the user. Krug uses the example of a website with a search bar without instructions. This is a usability problem because it makes it difficult for the user to know how to use things.
  • The importance of feedback. This means providing clear and timely feedback to the user about their actions. For example, if a user clicks a button, the website should change immediately. Hover effects also show interactive elements over static ones.
  • The book also covers other important usability principles, such as affordanceconstraints, and error prevention.

“The secret to good design is to make things invisible.”

~ Steve Krug

This quote sums up the importance of usability. When a design is good, it is so easy to use that people don’t even have to think about it. They can focus on what they are trying to do.

Who should read this

  • Anyone who wants to create user-friendly digital products
  • Anyone interested in learning more about usability
design thinking

2. Laws of UX: Using Psychology to Design Better Products & Services

Discover the Laws of UX, where psychology meets design! From cognitive psychology to behavioral economics, this book delves into the profound influence design wields over human behavior.

This book is about using psychology to design better products and services. It covers various topics, including cognitive psychology, persuasion, and behavioral economics.

Highlights of the book:

  • It is important to understand people’s cognitive biases. These are mental shortcuts that people use to make decisions. For example, people are more likely to remember information that is presented in a visually appealing way.
  • Using persuasion techniques to influence people’s behavior. These techniques can make people more likely to buy a product, donate to a cause, or take a particular action.
  • The book also covers other critical psychological principles that can be used to design better products and services.

“The brain is lazy. It will always take the path of least resistance.”

~ William Lidwell, Julie Morville, and Aaron Hoover

This quote sums up the importance of usability. When a design is good, it is so easy to use that people don’t even have to think about it. They can focus on what they are trying to do.

Who should read this

  • Anyone who designs or develops products and services
  • Anyone interested in learning more about the psychology of design
  • Anyone who wants to use psychology to influence people’s behavior
design thinking

3. Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges and Leaderboards

Unlock the power of gamification! Actionable Gamification delves into how gamification can motivate and engage people. Gamification transforms tasks into engaging experiences and prompts users to take action in a fun way.

This book is about using gamification to motivate and engage people. It covers various topics, including game mechanics, motivation theory, and user experience design.

Highlights of the book:

  • Use game mechanics to create a sense of progress and achievement. These are two of the most potent motivators that people have.
  • Make it easy for people to win. If people feel they can win, they are more likely to be motivated by a game.
  • The book also covers other essential gamification principles, such as socializingcompetition, and scarcity.

“Gamification is the art of using game mechanics to solve problems.”

~ Yu-Kai Chou

This highlights the potential of gamification to be used to solve various problems. Gamification can be used to motivate people to learn, to be more productive, and to make healthier choices.

Who should read this

  • Anyone who wants to use gamification to motivate and engage people
  • Anyone interested in learning more about game mechanics and motivation theory
  • Anyone who wants to solve problems using gamification
design thinking

4. The Design Of Everyday Things

Uncover the psychology behind The Design of Everyday Things. Good design should be intuitive and user-friendly. Discover how to create products that effortlessly guide users towards their goals. Perfect for anyone interested in designing user-centric everyday objects.

This book is about the psychology of design. It covers various topics, including usability, user experience, and cognitive psychology.

Highlights of the book:

  • Make products and services intuitive. This means that people should be able to figure out how to use them without reading a manual or asking for help.
  • Consider the user’s mental model. This is the user’s understanding of how the product or service works. If the designer’s mental model does not match the user’s, the product or service will be challenging.
  • The book also covers other important internet design principles, such as visibilityfeedback, and error prevention.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

~ Donald Norman

This highlights the importance of considering the user’s experience when designing a product or service. The design should not just be aesthetically pleasing; it should also be functional and easy to use.

Who should read this

  • Anyone who designs or develops products and services
  • Anyone interested in learning more about the psychology of design
  • Anyone who wants to create intuitive and user-friendly products and services
design thinking

5. Design Is Storytelling

Explore what Design in Storytelling has to do with great design. This book reveals how design can have captivating narratives. Design can create persuasive, memorable, and engaging stories.

This book is about the power of storytelling in design. It covers various topics, including visual storytelling, narrative design, and user experience.

Highlights of the book:

  • Design is storytelling. This means that every design decision is a choice about how to tell a story. How we design a product, service, or environment can influence how people feel, think, and behave.
  • Good stories are engaging, persuasive, and memorable. This means they should capture the audience’s attention, make them feel something, and stay with them long after they’ve finished reading or seeing them.
  • The book also covers other important aspects of storytelling in design, such as character developmentconflict, and resolution.

“Design is the act of telling a story.”

~ Aarron Walter

It’s essential to consider the narrative elements of design. When we design something, we are essentially creating a story. The way we tell that story will have a significant impact on how people interact with it.

Who should read this

  • Anyone who designs or uses products and services
  • Is anyone interested in learning more about the power of storytelling in design?
  • Anyone who wants to create more engaging, persuasive, and memorable designs.
design thinking

6. How Design Makes Us Think: And Feel and Do Things

Learn about the impact of design and How Design Makes Us Think, Feel, and Do Things. From usability to cognitive psychology, tap into the psychology behind design that shapes human behavior in various ways.

This book is about the psychology of design and how it affects our thoughts, feelings, and actions through branding. It covers various topics, including usability, user experience, and cognitive psychology.

Highlights of the book:

  • Design can influence our behavior by affecting our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. For example, the design of a website can impact our likelihood of buying something from it.
  • Design can be used to create positive experiences. This is because design can evoke emotions and make us comfortable. For example, the design of a hospital can make us feel more or less anxious.
  • The book also covers other important aspects of design psychology, such as cognitive biasesaffordance, and error prevention.

“Design is the intentional creation of experiences.”

~ Susan Weinschenk

Design has the power to create positive or negative experiences for people. When designing something, we should be intentional about the experience we want to create.

Who should read this

  • Anyone interested in learning more about the psychology of design
  • Anyone who wants to create designs that influence people’s behavior in positive ways
design thinking

7. Strategic Writing for UX: Drive Engagement, Conversion, and Retention with Every Word

Strategic Writing for UX is your gateway to mastering UX writing. This comprehensive guide delves into copywriting to craft compelling user experiences. Discover the essence of UX writing, where words are more than mere text; they’re tools for understanding users’ needs and propelling them toward their objectives.

This book is about using UX writing to create effective and engaging user experiences. It covers various topics, including copywritinginformation architecture, and content strategy.

Highlights of the book

  • UX writing is about more than just writing words. It’s also about understanding the user’s needs and goals and using language to help them achieve them.
  • UX writing should be strategic. It should be carefully planned and executed to achieve specific results, such as increasing engagement, driving conversions, or improving retention.
  • The book also covers other important aspects of UX writing, such as clarityconcision, and persuasion.

“Words are powerful. They can be used to inform, persuade, and engage. But when used strategically, they can also be used to drive engagement, conversion, and retention.”

~ Torrey Podmajersky

There is power in design thinking to influence user behavior. When used effectively, UX writing can help people achieve their goals and make them more likely to use a product or service.

Who should read this

  • Anyone who designs or develops products and services
  • Anyone responsible for creating user-facing content
  • Anyone who wants to learn more about UX writing

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the many excellent books available on design thinking. If you want to learn more about this topic, design thinking is a powerful tool for solving problems and creating better products and services. You can learn how to apply this approach to your work by reading these books.

Whether you’re interested in creating user-friendly digital products or simply enhancing your understanding of usability and psychology in design, these seven must-read books offer valuable insights and practical guidance. They demonstrate how design can make our lives easier and more enjoyable through effective design.

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