Top 10 User Interface Books You Might Want to Put on Your Shelf

What do you usually do facing a confusing issue during the interface design process? What can you consider a trustworthy source of such professional information? All of us ask our colleagues and friends’ advice from time to time, but when we need really accurate reliable information we turn to the time-tested methods. We are talking about specialized books, of course.

Being web developers, all of you have your own favorite authors. But technologies change fast as well as your level of expertise. Do you think it’s time to check your bookshelf and fill it up with new books meeting the latest requirements of today's virtual reality? Sure we are not going to argue the irreproachable authority of 'The Design of Everyday Things' by Donald Norman or 'Don't Make Me Think' by Steve Krug as those books have become classical for web developers. We just want to enrich your collection and bring a fresh progressive stream into your UI designs. Welcome the top 10 relatively new books for interface designers, which are really worth your time and efforts as they will let you look at your projects from another not hackneyed perspective.

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A Project Guide to UX Design by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler (Mar 19, 2012)

books for interface designers Russ Unger is a user experience design and research professional, residing in the Chicago area. He has an extensive work experience with digital agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and startups. The events like South by Southwest, Web 2.0, and UX Week were presented and led by him. From time to time he contributes to various online UX magazines. Besides, Russ is on the Advisory Board for the Department of Web Design and Development at Harrington College of Design.

Carolyn Chandler holds office of the experience design director for Manifest Digital (an interactive consultancy in Chicago). She has taught design courses for DePaul University, and developed an interaction design course for the WaSP InterACT curriculum. She has been leading UX teams for over 12 years.

This updated edition of the book focuses on the diplomacy, management skills, and business savvy aspects of successful UX design. Here you will find new information on design principles, mobile and gestural interactions, content strategy, remote research tools and so on. You’ll learn to: recognize the various roles in UX design, identify stakeholders, enlist their support; obtain consensus from your team on project objectives; understand approaches such as Waterfall, Agile, and Lean UX; define the scope of your project and avoid mission creep; conduct user research in person or remotely, and document your findings; understand and communicate user behavior with personas; design and prototype your application or site; plan for development, product rollout, and ongoing quality assurance.

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Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell (Jan 6, 2011)

books for interface designers Jenifer Tidwell with her 20 years of designing and building user interfaces experience knows what she is writing about like nobody else. She is an expert in designing both desktop and Web applications, and currently designs and develops websites for small businesses. Not long ago, she worked on redesigning the interface for Google Books. Earlier, Jenifer was instrumental in a redesign of the charting and visualization UI of MATLAB at The MathWorks.

This book can be called a bestseller without any exaggeration. It is a trusted source of good application interfaces design options. The book features best UI practices and reusable ideas as design patterns, and provides solutions to common design problems.

This updated edition contains patterns for mobile apps and social media, web applications and desktop software. Each pattern includes full-color examples and practical design advice. The book is suitable both for experts and novices as it can become a driving forth for ideas as well as substantial guide into the world of interface and interaction design. “Designing Interfaces” will teach you to design engaging and usable interfaces with more confidence and less guesswork; learn design concepts that are often misunderstood, such as affordances, visual hierarchy, navigational distance, and the use of color; get recommendations for specific UI patterns, including alternatives and warnings on when not to use them; mix and recombine UI ideas as you see fit; polish the look and feel of your interfaces with graphic design principles and patterns.

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Brave NUI World: Designing Natural User Interfaces for Touch and Gesture by Daniel Wigdor and Dennis Wixon (Apr 27, 2011)

books for interface designers Here is the first practical book for product and interaction developers and designing touch and gesture interfaces. “Brave NUI World” has been written by developers of industry-first, multi-touch, multi-user products. It gives you essential tools and information to integrate touch and gesture practices into your daily work by means of presenting scenarios, problem solving, metaphors, and techniques allowing you avoid the mistakes.

The book provides easy-to-apply design guidance for the unique challenge of creating touch and gesture-based user interfaces, considers diverse user needs and context, real world successes and failures, and a look into the future of NUI, presents thirty scenarios, giving practitioners a multitude of considerations for making informed design decisions and helping to ensure that missteps are never made again.

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Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences by Stephen P. Anderson (Jun 25, 2011)

books for interface designers Stephen P. Anderson is an internationally recognized speaker and consultant from Dallas, Texas. He is a creator of the Mental Notes card deck (a widely used tool for by product teams to apply psychology to interaction design). He also wrote the book "Seductive Interaction Design," explaining the topic of psychology and design in detail. Before starting his own projects, Stephen has been building and leading teams of information architects, interaction designers and UI developers for more than 10 years. He has designed Web applications for technology startups and corporate clients like Nokia, Frito-Lay, Sabre Travel Network, and Chesapeake Energy. Stephen conducts workshops and training on managing creative teams, making use of visual thinking, and designing better customer experiences.

In “Seductive Interaction Design”, the author offers a fresh approach to designing sites and interactions based on the stages of seduction. This creatively designed book reveals the points that motivate people to act. Here are the highlighted topics:

  • Aesthetics, beauty and behavior: Why do striking visuals grab our attention? And how do emotions affect judgment and behavior?
  • Playful seduction: How do you create playful engagements during the moment? Why are serendipity, arousal, rewards, and other delights critical to a good experience?
  • The subtle art of seduction: How do you put people at ease through clear and suggestive language? What are some subtle ways to influence behavior and get people to move from intent to action?
  • The game of seduction: How do you continue motivating people long after the first encounter? Are there lessons to be gained from learning theories or game design?

The book bristles with psychology principles, dozens of examples showing how these techniques have been successfully applied. Each section includes interviews with influential web and interaction designers.

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Designing Mobile Interfaces by Steven Hoober and Eric Berkman (Nov 30, 2011)

books for interface designers Steven Hoober has been in the industry of designing interactive systems for over fifteen years. For the past decade he has been involved in mobile design on all levels from startups to large operators.

Eric Berkman works as Interaction Designer and Experience Architect at Digital Eskimo (a leading user-centered design agency). His design career has included developing mobile UI experiences for global telecommunications companies, branding and packaging design for Coca-Cola, Miller Brewing Company and Bristol-Meyers Squibb, and interactive museum exhibitions. His expertise and interests concentrate on a user-centric, participatory design approach to create meaningful individual, social, and cultural interactions. He has got bachelor's degree in Industrial Design and a Masters in Interaction Design from the University of Kansas. Currently resides in Sydney, Australia.

This book provides practical techniques helping you capture users’ attention. You’ll learn major principles of designing effective user interfaces, along with a set of common patterns for interaction design on all possible types of mobile devices. The authors have collected and researched 76 best practices for everything from composing pages and displaying information to the use of screens, lights, and sensors. Each pattern contains a discussion of the design problem and solution, plus variations, interaction and presentation details, and antipatterns.

So, you will improve your skills in composing pages so that information is easy to locate and manipulate; providing labels and visual cues appropriate for your app’s users; useing information control widgets to help users quickly access details; taking advantage of gestures and other sensors; applying specialized methods to prevent errors and the loss of user-entered data; enabling users to easily make selections, enter text, and manipulate controls; using screens, lights, haptics, and sounds to communicate your message and increase user satisfaction.

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Smashing UX Design: Foundations for Designing Online User Experiences by Jesmond Allen and James Chudley (Jun 18, 2012)

books for interface designers This is a compound guide to UX from the popular resource for web designers and developers, targeted on mastering User Experience Design. The authors make an overview of UX and User Centered Design and examine in detail sixteen of the most common UX design and research tools and techniques for web projects.

They share the best tips from 30 years of working in UX including: guides to when and how to use the most appropriate UX research and design techniques such as usability testing, prototyping, wire framing, sketching, information architecture & running workshops; how to plan UX projects to suit different budgets, time constraints and business objectives; case studies from real UX projects that explain how particular techniques were used to achieve the client's goals; checklists to help you choose the right UX tools and techniques for the job in hand; typical user and business requirements to consider when designing business critical pages as well as explanations of key things to consider when designing for mobile, internationalization and behavioral change.

“Smashing UX Design” can be called the complete UX reference manual, which can become your personal UX tutor useful from cover-to-cover.

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Make It So by Nathan Shedroff and Christopher Noessel (Sep 13, 2012)

books for interface designers Nathan Shedroff is an expert in professional strategy and serial entrepreneurship as well as a pioneer in the fields of experience design, interaction design, and information design. He speaks and teaches internationally, besides he is a chair of the groundbreaking MBA program in design strategy at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Nathan also cooperated with Richard Saul Wurman at The Understanding Business and later co-founded vivid studios, the first interactive media company and one of the first web services firms on Earth.

Christopher Noessel is a managing director at the pioneering interaction design firm Cooper, helping designers build their skills and lead client projects to greatness. Christopher has been into interaction design for more than 20 years. He was one of the founding graduates of the now-passing-intolegend Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Ivrea, Italy. He has since helped to visualize the future of counterterrorism as a freelancer, built prototypes of coming technologies for Microsoft. Christopher has written for online publications for many years, he spoke at conferences around the world about a wide range of things, including interactive narrative, ethnographic user research, sex-related interactive technologies, the relationship between science fiction and interface design.

Their book is an informative source on how interaction design in sci-fi movies informs interaction design in the real world. The book deeply explores the contrasts, connections, and influences from the realm of fantasy to the real. Shedroff and Noessel performed one of the most thorough and insightful studies, providing comprehensive coverage of the vast number of examples and drawing practical and valuable lessons that inform and can be applied to the everyday problems.

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Mobile Design Pattern Gallery: UI Patterns for Mobile Applications by Theresa Neil (Mar 13, 2012)

books for interface designers Theresa Neil is a user experience consultant in Austin, Texas, where she designs rich applications for start-ups and Fortune500 companies.

This terse book includes a convenient reference to 70 mobile app design patterns, illustrated by more than 400 screenshots from current iOS, Android, BlackBerry, WebOS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian apps. Theresa shows you design patterns of 10 separate categories, including anti-patterns, which provide solutions to common design challenges no matter whether you’re designing a simple iPhone application or the one meant to work for every popular mobile OS on the market.

The list of pattern categories includes:
Navigation: get patterns for primary and secondary navigation;
Forms: break the industry-wide habits of bad form design;
Tables and lists: display only the most important information;
Search, sort, and filter: make these functions easy to use;
Tools: create the illusion of direct interaction;
Charts: learn best practices for basic chart design;
Invitations: invite users to get started and discover features;
Help: integrate help pages into a smaller form factor.

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Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules by Jeff Johnson (Jun 3, 2010)

books for interface designers Jeff Johnson is a President and Principal Consultant at UI Wizards, Inc. (a product usability consulting firm that offers UI design, usability reviews, usability testing, and training). He has worked in the sphere of Human-Computer Interaction since 1978. After earning B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale and Stanford Universities, he worked as a user-interface designer and implementer, engineer manager, usability tester, and researcher at Cromemco, Xerox, US West, Hewlett-Packard Labs, and Sun Microsystems. At Xerox he worked on successors to Xerox's famed Star workstation. At Sun he worked for the "skunkworks" that produced Java. Jeff has taught at Stanford University and Mills College. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on a variety of topics in Human-Computer Interaction and the impact of technology on society. He frequently gives talks and tutorials at conferences and companies on usability and user-interface design.

“Designing with the Mind in Mind” provides designers with solid background in perceptual and cognitive psychology that UI design guidelines make intuitive sense rather than being just a list of rules to follow. The author will walk you through the following secrets: the first practical, all-in-one source for practitioners on user interface design rules and why, when and how to apply them; just enough background into the reasoning behind interface design rules that practitioners can make informed decisions in every project; the insight practitioners need to make educated design decisions when confronted with tradeoffs, including competing design rules, time constrictions, or limited resources.

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Undercover User Experience Design by Cennydd Bowles and James Box (Sep 27, 2010)

books for interface designers Cennydd Bowles has eight years in the field of user experience and currently works for Clearleft in Brighton, England and moonlights as a UX blogger, mentor and community evangelist. Cennydd is a regular public speaker (SXSW, IA Summit), a widely published writer (A List Apart, Johnny Holland, .net magazine) and co-conspirator of the UX London conference.

James Box works for Clearleft in the town of Brighton, England. Part information architect and part interaction designer, James is busy crafting websites that are fun and easy to use. He's not actually designing, but professionally writing and talking about the subject.

“Undercover User Experience” is a pragmatic guide from the front lines, giving frank advice on making UX work in real companies with real problems. Readers will learn how to fit research, ideation, prototyping and testing into their daily workflow, and how to design good user experiences under the common constraints of time, budget and culture.

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Have we warmed up your interest with our top listing of UI books? Maybe you heard or have already read some of them. Were they really helpful? What books can you recommend to UI designers striving to raise their level of expertise? What is your personal list of the best UI design books? We would be happy to get your answers in the comment section. Your viewpoint is highly important for our community.

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