The “A” List: We frequently receive requests from colleagues, clients and journalists for recommended reading lists on topics covering our expertise in UX design, usability research and human factors engineering. These requests prompted us to pull from our research library (yes, we still have real books) 30+ books which our professional staff felt should be considered primary conceptual literature for anyone well-read in the theory and practice of UX design and research.
A Surprising List: When we pooled the selected books for inclusion, we were a bit surprised. Most of the selected texts were published some time ago… in some cases our selections were out of print. This set us to thinking: Why did we end up with books representing the best theory on UX design published before the term was even invented?
The answer resides in the fact that UX design, as we define it, encompasses a vast field of human-machine interaction variables covering cognitive processes, decision-making, task design, information architecture, graphic design, interactive brand development, market research, retail store design, product design, web design and at least a dozen other primary fields of expertise.
Where to Start: UX design is by definition a vast and overlapping set of expertise areas that find focus based on the nature of a specific UX design problem. Therefore, to be well-read on this subject actually requires reading very diverse professional literature. The following 30+ books are those we consider the best general expositions on a given topic area that we know from professional experience is functionally or theoretically applicable to UX Design and Research.
It may come as a surprise to those of you who came to UX in the last decade that there was a vast and teeming world of man-machine science and related research before there was anything like the iPhone or even the Internet. Our list is as much about the history of man-machine design as it is about the future of UX.
Please Note: We have reviewed many UX-specific books for this list but have found that most of the new texts, including several popular books on UX design, are not nearly as useful as the original texts on which they are based. Most of the books on our list can be easily found online at Amazon.com or at other online sources. Many are out of print but not out of sight. If you purchase any of these books from Amazon or any other source, we do not receive any compensation. If you have books you feel we missed, send us a comment and if we agree with your suggestion it will be added to the list with a citation. We view our list, like our associated list of important recent papers on UX, as a living entity. Finally, if you are an author and your book(s) is not on the list, please do not send us a snarky comment. We will simply ignore it.
Charles L Mauro CHFP
Mauro New Media