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Product design professionals must be thoroughly abreast of the latest trends and tools in today's competitive world. Reading helps gain not only theoretical and conceptual clarity but also derive inspiration from real-world case studies. Product design books are a ‘go-to’ solution to address challenges that professionals face. The best product design books are a comprehensive read for exploring all dimensions of product design- user research, identifying user problems, designing solutions, and validating those hypotheses with users. So, if you are looking to brush up on your fundamentals and gain further insight into product design, here are some books related to product design that you should definitely read.
1. Design of Everyday Things: Don Norman
The Design of Everyday Things is possibly among the best-selling product design books of all time. It lays out the essential principles of good design and highlights the conscious design choices of commonplace products. The author also elucidates the reasoning and purpose behind these choices, reaffirming the significance of practicality and convenience as two basic tenets of product design. According to the author, making things visible, exploiting the natural relationships that couple function and control, and making intelligent use of constraints is the way forward for a good and usable design.
2. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products: Nir Eyal
This is among the books for product designing that will change how you look at digital products. As the title suggests, the book contains recommendations to enhance the stickiness of the products and retain customers. The book is written in a systematic and coherent style. The author has also developed a Skillshare course on the same topic, which you can additionally refer to build upon your existing knowledge.
3. Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common-Sense Approach to Web & Mobile Usability: Steve Krug
This book, based on principles of intuitive navigation and information design, is highly recommended for product design professionals. In a light-hearted style with a witty tone, the author gives a fresh perspective to usability design with real-world case studies. It is a concise and logical read running approximately to hundred pages. The author has used adequate examples to illustrate his viewpoints and highlight the significance of various stakeholders in contributing to the usability of a site or an app. With a vibrant layout and profuse illustration, it is among the most-loved books for product designing of all times.
4. Inclusive Design for a Digital World: Regine M. Gilbert
This book is designed to cater to this digital era. The author explores multiple aspects of technological accessibility, followed by step-by-step solutions. The book covers Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 requirements, emerging technologies including AR and VR, best practices for web development, etc. The key takeaway from the text is that technology has enhanced connection and information equality worldwide. Hence, access and usability of such technology should be prioritised to reap its maximum benefits. The book reaffirms the significance of making products inclusive of all people in this digital era.
5. Laws of UX: Jon Yablonski
The book draws from the principles of psychology, especially how users behave and interact with digital interfaces. The author emphasises the understanding of how humans perceive the objects around them, which forms the building block of the design process. This book is a practical guide on the application of key principles of psychology to build user-centric products and experiences. The author cites examples of familiar apps and experiences to prove his point.
6. Change by Design: Tim Brown
This book is authored by Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO- a global design and innovation company. It is based on the concept of design thinking-a process deployed by a designer's sensibilities and methods to match people's needs with a viable business strategy. This book makes a potent case for harnessing the power of design thinking to every product, experience or strategy in various settings. The author uses his knowledge and anecdotes interspersed with wit to create a compelling read. It is not among the books related to product design only but a must-read for all creative leaders who wish to muster design thinking for their organisation, product or service to achieve disruptive outcomes.
7. UX for Lean Startups: Laura Klein
This book will help UX beginners learn faster and smarter using LEAN techniques. The author emphasises gathering valuable customer inputs to build a user-centric product and reduce the time to bring your product to the market. The book also describes nine tools critical to designing a product, differentiates between must-have and nice-to-have features in the product and provides tips to accelerate product development.
8. Well Designed: Jon Kolko
In this book, the author details the product designing process and highlights the significance of building emotionally resonant products. He believes that empathy is the key to successful product development. A successful product must reflect designers' understanding of the feelings and emotions of users.
9. 101 Things I Learned in Product Design School: Sung Jang, Martin Thaler, and Matthew Frederick
This is among the best product design books which explore the fundamentals of the discipline. It is authored by three experienced designers, instructors and professionals who believe that product designing is not an art, engineering or craft. However, it requires an in-depth understanding of these areas along with history, psychology, ergonomics, materials technology, marketing and manufacturing. The book gives valuable tips and recommendations in a stripped-down format and is a go-to guide for aspiring product designers to kickstart their careers in this field.
10. Value Proposition Design: Alex Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Greg Bernarda, Alan Smith
The book is a practical guide to designing, testing, creating and managing products and services that customers desire. It helps understand the patterns of great value propositions and avoid impractical ideas. The book eliminates the guesswork in product design to cater to customers' expectations. It is supplemented by practical exercises, illustrations and tools to improve the product, service and new business idea. The book also provides exclusive access to online guide-strategyzer.com to complete assignments, assess your work, learn from peers, download PDFs, and much more.
All these texts are considered the best product design books, which serve as the blueprint to transform ground-breaking ideas into reality. They act as guides to strengthen design fundamentals and help professionals adhere to basic principles while building disruptive products and services.
The proliferation of smart devices, the focus on customer experience and emerging technologies have reimagined the product design discipline. Product design is continuously evolving. Whatever stage you've reached in your career, you should never stop learning, upgrading your skill set, discovering new approaches and exploring fresh perspectives.
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