Way back in December my colleague Mindy set out her web design goals for 2009 , and included "Continue to improve my understanding of User Experience design" at #4 on her list. We've got a well-stocked UX bookshelf a Viget South, and Mindy's post got me thinking about the books I recommend to people who want to learn more about user experience design, information architecture, usability, and interaction design. I set my own goal of putting together a "UX canon" that I would be able to share. Well, it's nearly March and I've yet to finish my reading list. Thankfully, the design faculty at the School of Visual Arts did me a favor and posted there own interaction design reading recommendations. It's a pretty good list, and has most of the books I had in mind to include in my own reading list. I highly recommend that you check it out, and in the spirit of sharing, I do want to recommend five books that didn't make it onto the SVA list:
The Inmates are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper — I think you could call this the book where I found religion. Inmates isn't a practical book, but it embodies all of the frustration about interface design that I felt as a Computer Science student in college.
The Human Interface by Jef Raskin — Raskin has a fondness for oddball interface paradigms, but this is another book that is more about the spirit that embues user experience design than the actual practice of the craft. Fun Fact: Raskin's son Aza is now leading UX efforts for Mozilla.
Tog on Interface by Bruce Tognazzini — Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini was part of the legendary design team at Apple during the early years of the Mac OS, and this is an engrossing look at much of the thought and effort that went into crafting many of the fundamental interface elements we now take for granted.
Contextual Design by Hugh Beyer and Karen Holtzblatt — SVA is a design school, so I guess it isn't surprising that they don't have much in the way of design research books. Contextual Design presents the case for ethnographic research methods in UX design.
Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (3rd ed.) by Peter Morville and Lou Rosenfeld — Finally, I want to recommend the classic and definitive Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. Effective organization of information is critical to creating usable designs, especially on the web, and this is the book that formalized IA as a practice.