My top 5, desert-island interface design books

Over the years, I’ve read a lot of books on design, and while many of them are great reads, only a few have left permanent impressions on my day to day work. Here they are, in no particular order.

“The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman
This book changed the way I look at objects in the world and how we interact with them. It introduced me to core interaction design principles like affordance and mapping. SImple and enjoyable to read, I can’t recommend this book enough.
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“Designing Visual Interfaces” by Kevin Mullet and Darrell Sano
TThis was the first book that I read that explained how classic visual design principles can be applied to software interfaces. One of the first interfaces that I saw that blew me away visually was the NeXT computer’s GUI; this book really explained why it was so superior and that the visual principles behind it had been around for a long, long time.
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“Designing web usability” by Jakob Nielsen
Yes, it seems like a “safe” choice, but so much of what Jakob said in this book still applies 10 years later. As a matter of fact, a lot of what we do now on the web has become de-facto based on what was in this book.
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“Envisioning Information” by Edward Tufte
What can I say - Tufte can teach us more about designing information than anyone else. His books are the gold standard for information design, and his meticulous research on the subject yields many beautiful examples from throughout history. Also, the books themselves are beautiful!
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“The inmates are running the Asylum” by Alan Cooper
I have spent many years working at software companies, and this book simply nailed it as to why so much software just plain sucks. This book also the first to introduce the term “Interaction Designer”. Alan Cooper is truly one of the few masters of both coding and interaction design, and has a lot to say about the subjects. A must read for anyone working in the enterprise software world.
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