5 Books Junior UX Designers Should Read in 2023


Jan. 24, 2023, 10:46 a.m.

It is a new year, so it means it is time for a new list of books to read! The books this year will be a compilation of books that focus on aspects of design, research, psychology and storytelling.

1. Design for Real Life by Eric Meyer & Sara Wachter-Boettcher


Synopsis: “You can’t always predict who will use your products, or what emotional state they’ll be in when they do. But by identifying stress cases and designing with compassion, you’ll create experiences that support more of your users, more of the time… You’ll gain the practical knowledge to test where your designs might fail (before you ship!), vet new features, or interactions against more realistic scenarios, and build a business case for making decisions through a lens of kindness. You can’t know every user, but you can develop inclusive practices that support a wider range of people. This book will show you how.” — A Book Apart

Why it's important: Life isn’t perfect- stress, trauma, crisis, and pain are all emotions and reactions we face at one point or another in our lives. Therefore, as Designers of products and experiences, it is important to think through these not-so-inviting cases when we build. This book is a reminder of that and teaches us just how to think through these scenarios so that we can design in ways that create seamless experiences even when our user is under extreme stress.

2. Mismatch by Kat Holmes


Synopsis: “Sometimes designed objects reject their users: a computer mouse that doesn’t work for left-handed people, for example, or a touchscreen payment system that only works for people who read English phrases, have 20/20 vision, and use a credit card. Something as simple as color choices can render a product unusable for millions. These mismatches are the building blocks of exclusion. In Mismatch, Kat Holmes describes how design can lead to exclusion, and how design can also remedy exclusion. Inclusive design methods — designing objects with rather than for excluded users — can create elegant solutions that work well and benefit all.” — Google Books

Why it's important: One of the worst feelings can be being rejected by a product or technology. More often than not we instantly blame ourselves for not being able to interact with it “correctly,” yet in reality, it’s at the fault of the product because it is not intuitive to use. Keeping this example in mind, there is an evergrowing need to design for a larger and more diverse society each day. What Holmes hits home on is that inclusive design does not just mean those with lifelong impairments, but rather she encourages us to also think about situational impairments. This book is an important read since it encourages us to broaden our thinking and to understand how what once was an idea for inclusion can become mainstream and ultimately a better solution for all.

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3. Articulating Design Decisions by Tom Greever


Synopsis: "Talking to people about your designs might seem like a basic skill, but it can be difficult to do efficiently and well. And, in many cases, how you communicate about your work with stakeholders, clients, and other non-designers is more critical than the designs themselves — simply because the most articulate person usually wins.

This practical guide focuses on principles, tactics, and actionable methods for presenting your designs. Whether you design UX, websites, or products, you’ll learn how to win over anyone who has influence over the project — with the goal of creating the best experience for the end user.” — Google Books

Why it's important: UX is still a relatively new industry so at times it can be necessary to not only prove our own design decisions but also to articulate the importance of our own industry. However, this can not always be the easiest. That is why this book is a helpful read as it teaches us how to interact with our adjacent disciplines in ways that they will understand and resonate with.

4. On Web Typography by Jason Santa Mari


Synopsis: “Achieving a thorough grasp of typography can take a lifetime, but moving beyond the basics is within your reach right now. In this book, we’ll learn how to look at typefaces with a discerning eye, different approaches to typographic planning, how typography impacts the act of reading, and how to choose and combine appropriate typefaces from an aesthetic and technical point of view. Through an understanding of our design tools and how they relate to the web as a medium, we can empower ourselves to use type in meaningful and powerful ways” — Good Reads

Why it's important: We may not all come from design backgrounds, however, I encourage all my mentees to learn the basics of typography best practices. Type may seem like a minor piece to a product, but what many don’t realize is how it can really shape the style or feel of what a user is looking at. If a designer uses too many fonts, it can create a feeling of tension or uneasiness for the user and ultimately cause them to abandon the product (obviously in the extreme case but still a case to think about). Or if a designer selects fonts that don’t match it could subconsciously distract a user from the actual copy or features on the screen. I could continue with examples, but needless to say, my point is that typography plays a major role in what we make so it is helpful to understand how to best design with web-based fonts.

5. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell


Synopsis: “Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. And because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.” — Good Reads

Why it's important: As UX Designers, we need to understand our users. However, what Gladwell continuously argues is that due to our human nature, we oftentimes struggle to truly know the person in front of us and that many times those closest to us are the ones who deceive us. Therefore this book is an important read since it encourages us to lean into this discomfort by acknowledging our biases to the truth and by understanding that our environment and culture play a major role in our actions. And that as UX Designers, we need to remember to study the environment of our users, not just the specific behaviors of those in our tests, before designing our products.

Each of these books teaches a unique skill set. However, all of these lessons and concepts are vital in becoming a successful UX Designer! What book is on the top of your list to read this year?


tag: Product Design, tech, Books, UX design,

Frankie Kastenbaum Source