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Ultimate UX/UI Design Books & Blogs for 2021

The 2020/21 winter vacations will be a little different for most of us. So if you’re one of the lucky ones who can snuggle up at home and wait for sunnier times, here are some favourite UX/UI design reads to get you ready for 2021:

Books

Yup, the real thing made of paper like in the old days (well or on your Kindle). I still love them, and they are just a bit more comprehensive than a quick google search. 

1.Laws of UX 

Laws of UX is my absolute favourite UX/UI read and companion! Based purely on key principles from psychology, with fantastic examples and a ton of additional reading and material. Laws of UX by Jon Yablonski is a must-read for any UX/UI designer and, for me, the best book out there.

Hick’s Law, Serial Position Effect, Jacob’s Law and many more. All sound kind of familiar, but you’re not so sure anymore? Start with the fantastic Laws of UX website the book is based on, and I’m sure after a few clicks, you’ll be as convinced as I am. Also, check out his other site, Humane by Design, a fantastic resource that provides guidance on designing ethically humane digital products.

2. Laying the Foundations: How to Design Websites and Products Systematically

Laying the Foundations is a comprehensive guide to setting up and maintaining design systems. Very well written and the ultimate guide for anyone working on scaling design and managing a team around it. Also, take a look at the blog and work of Andrew Couldwell, very impressive.

3. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People is a must-read for any UX/UI Designer. Dr. Weinschenk dives into what makes us tick, pick, and thus click. A light read, each topic is no longer than three pages. The book is conveniently divided into how people see, read, think, and what motivates people. Many things are common sense, but it is a great tool to remind oneself and backup UX/UI Design decisions.

4. Dieter Rams: Ten Principles for Good Design

I adore Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer who was responsible for the design of Braun consumer products which inspired many iconic Apple products.

Dieter Rams: Ten Principles for Good Design is a book about Rams’ life and aesthetic philosophy that continues to inspire designers worldwide. Assuming you’re into minimalist design approach, look no further, this is your book.

5. HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites

HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites by Jon Duckett is probably the book I’ve referred to the most in the last few years. If you are a designer looking for an introduction to HTML and CSS, this is the book for you! Finally, a true beginner’s book that is also beautifully designed and clearly written. 

Make 2021 the year to start understanding markup and code; it’s worth it!
And once you’re done with HTML and CSS, you can move straight to Ducketts’ equally well designed JavaScript book.

6. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Don’t Make Me Think is an all-time classic. Steve Krug manages to explain the user experience approach in an entertaining, easy to understand, and fun way.
Anyone who has anything to do with the web should take a look.

7. Steal like an artist

Austin Kleon’s lurid title actually means that almost everything “imaginable” already exists in some form, and we should go out there, explore and use it in our own way. Steal like an artist contains some good food for thought and demystifies creative work to a certain extent.

“Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth: They don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day.”

Quote from: Steal like an artist.

8. The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things shows the very core of UX design, written before UX was even a thing. Don Norman describes the basic principles for transforming everyday objects into fun and satisfying products.

9. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Why are certain apps and tools so addictive and others get barely noticed? Hooked explains the role of habits in successful products and services design and how you can use the 4-step hook model to shape and predict customer habits. Recommended to anyone planning to design a new (digital) product or experience.

10. Work for Money, Design for Love: Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Starting and Running a Successful Design Business

My friend gave me this book as a gift and motivation when I started freelancing almost ten years ago. It focuses more on branding than UX/UI design, but if you’re considering taking the leap into freelancing, it’s still a good choice. It covers everything from choosing clients to pricing and managing your own work. To this day, I remember the chapter on red flags with enthusiasm!
The book’s author, designer David Airey, also runs the famous blog logodesignlove.com, which is well worth a visit.

11. Show your work

If you enjoyed Steal Like an Artist, you will also enjoy Show your work. Crazy short, and motivating. In a nutshell: Stop polishing your work until it’s perfect, stop feeling insecure about it. Get out there and show it; it won’t kill you! Show your work is basically a guide on how to promote yourself if you hate self-promotion.

12. The Lean Startup

The Startup bible The Lean Startup describes how startups can learn what customers really want by continuously testing and adapting their products in the fastest possible way.

It is more focused on tech entrepreneurs than designers. However, if Minimum Viable Product, cohort metrics, A/B testing, virality, and startup pivots are your office buzz words, you might as well dig a little deeper to join the conversation properly.

13. A book apart

This is not a single book, but actually, a selection of short books for people who design, write and code. Really nice! I found them via this great article on Medium on client presentation by Mike Monteiro who wrote Design is a JobandYou’re My Favorite Client

Blogs & more

  1. UX Planet: Obviously, the best UX blog. Thanks for always publishing my articles!
  2. Laws of UX: In case you are too stingy to buy the book 
  3. Humane by Design: Guidance for designing ethically humane digital products. Just wow! 
  4. Moonlearning: UX/UI Design + Code. Tutorials and articles
  5. Femke: Great insights, learnings, and experience about being a UX Designer
  6. Pablo Stanley: Fun tutorials about Sketch & Figma
  7. Friends of Figma: Figma community
  8. LadiesThatUX: Community for female UX Designer
  9. School of Life: School of life articles on work in general
  10. UX collective: Curated stories on user experience, visual and product design
  11. How to start in UX: a great read by UX collective
  12. Nielsen Norman Group: Sound research-based user experience (well, they coined the phrase “user experience” they know what they are talking about).

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