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Carmen Wright
Carmen Wright

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3 Go-to Beginning UX Books

My journey into studying user experience started almost four years ago (damn, time flies). I was studying web design with ambitions of sailing through HTML and CSS, building awesome projects in JavaScript, and getting a job where I would kick ass as a web designer.

That plan didn't pan out, but I did find a fascination with user experience. Before, I believed that there wasn't a particular rhyme or reason to how a site's design was built. I should have known better. How many times did I see sites with similar components? How many times did I refuse to use a site because of a horrific experience?

Now, I know better.

I analyze the user experiences of digital products and real-life applications (checkout lines are a personal favorite). Through the lists, classes, and articles I consumed, I came across the "essential" list of books to read. I read a few, skimmed through less, and have too many on my to-read list.

If you look up the UX books to read, you'll see Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things, Jesse James Garrett's The Elements of User Experience, and Nir Eyal's Hooked. I wanted to create a list that helps the beginning UXer who wants a quick, but comprehensive read. I've seen these books on a few lists before and have recommended them whenever someone asks for a good UX intro.

UX for Beginners: 100 Short Lessons to Get You Started - Joel Marsh

This book was one of the first I read on user experience. I was confused by what UX was and found Marsh's explanations to be helpful. There were a few lessons where I was still confused, but I took that as "too much information to be condensed." I would recommend Marsh's book to those like me who had no idea what UX was but knew it sounded interesting.

Tragic Design: The True Impact of Bad Design and How to Fix It - Jonathan Shariat

This book looks like it should be read when you're farther along in your UX journey, but it isn't. Your goal as a UXer is to "do no harm" as Shariat opens this book. Starting your journey into UX with this mantra and this book's knowledge will prevent pain for your users and will help you identify pain points in existing projects.

The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide - Leah Buley

I'm starting to see this book on more must-read lists and it makes me happy. This book works better as a freelancer but can be read as a beginner. Buley does a great job breaking down the variations of the UX process. I've gone back to this book multiple times when working on projects. When you're starting out seeking out a little more advice, pick up this wonderful work.

I know there are other UX books out there plus articles, videos, courses, etc.

What are other UX books who haven't seen on any/many lists?

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