Essential UX Books for Beginners

Essential UX Books for Beginners

Share these actual insights

Last week a visitor to Actual Insights contacted me with a very common request after reading my post on upcoming UX books in June. So common, I should definitely write a blog post on it. The visitor in question had been a long time creative expert and had a vast experience in designing websites. Her predicament was one that even I, someone who came up through the web analytics ranks to where I am today, could have used help on in the past.

It is true, UX is becoming more mainstream and people are just searching for more information on the topic. People don’t only want to walk the walk, but also talk the talk. I mean, we all want to win the holiday for 2 to Disney World next time bullshit bingo rolls around… just kidding. In all seriousness, building blocks help form the basis of a building, but also of a career. In this case, books form the basis of knowledge. These are my recommendations for anyone seeking building blocks in UX knowledge.

We Fight For The User

The whole point of this blog, Actual Insights, is to help everyone generate just that, so who am I to stand in the way of a person’s personal goal in life. If I can make it this far, another person can, too. All you need are insights. And let’s be honest, no matter what money chasing businessmen think… the more people concerned about the user experience online, the better the online world will be.

So, here is my recommended reading list for anyone dipping their toes in the UX swimming pool. Sure, I can list 10 books, there are enough great books out there, but these three books are what I would consider to be pure and practical essentials for starting your UX career. Please trust me when I say that you should start here… please avoid running around the pool and jumping in at the deep end.

Undercover User Experience

  • Undercover User Experience – If you want to find out more about the inner workings of the UX community, learn lingo and thought processes, this book will help you immensely. It is a quick read, and easy read. Easy in the sense that the book has been written well and that reading it will put you in a ‘flow’. The talks about the different skill sets required and, even those needed to work with the various different experts you’ll come to rely on in the UX process. [Read more]

The Elements of User Experience

  • Elements of User Experience – This book, a second edition, updated from a 2002 version, is one of the base books of UX. What I mean with that, is that it dives down into the ‘elements’ of UX from a website perspective, code layer, visual layer, interaction layer and so on. This is a very insightful book which should help you link UX to other specialties such as website coding, website design and interaction design. The 2nd edition has been update to also look at mobile. [Read more]
  • A Project Guide to UX DesignA Project Guide to UX Design – To be brief on this book, this book will help you get an idea of all the activities involved (should be) in setting up and managing a UX design project. I found this useful when I setup my first ever UX project, but to be honest it is just a guideline. Every project eventually takes on it own process. [Read more]

Need more?

Now, if those books don’t fulfill your appetite, try these for several… well, many ‘oh wow‘ moments. Susan Weinschenk, a.k.a. @thebrainlady on Twitter, has written two great books. My favorite one is Neuro Web Design, which, again, is a quick read with perfect examples about how web design (and copyright as a matter of fact) can affect users often on a subconscious level. Her second book is good for ideas. 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People will give you food for thought about web design. 100 short chapters with practical examples and links to some interesting resources.

Let me know how you get on. If you have any more questions or if you are interested in more User Experience resources, leave a comment, of contact me directly.

About Matthew Niederberger

Matthew works as Conversion Optimisation Manager at Ziggo BV. In his free time he enjoys family life as well as digging into online user research material whilst frequently generating some of his own, which he freely shares here on


  1. Thanks for sharing Matthew. One further suggestion. 100 things every presenter needs to know about people is really handy for presenting your UX findings!

Leave a Reply

FREE Course!

Get FREE access to my User Feedback Fundamentals course at Udemy, a $29 value. Just sign-up to my newsletter.
Unsubscribe at anytime and keep access to the course.

Nope, we don't deal in spam, not even the canned sort.