12 Books That Made us Better Designers January 14, 2015 by Alex Ryan Designing Interactions by Bill MoggridgeBill Moggridge cofounded IDEO and designed the first laptop computer. His work helped to shape the field of interaction design. This book tells the stories of the biggest interaction innovations in the last 50 years, including the laptop, the mouse, and the desktop. It also provides detailed examples of tools and processes interaction designers use in their craft. Simply DroogDroog is a Dutch design company that works with independent designers to create products and events. A number of well known european designers have worked with Droog at different times, including Marcel Wanders and Hella Jongerius. Droog products have a special kind of whimsy and humor to them (Droog means ‘dry’ in Dutch). Their designs celebrate unique use of materials and show a different view on the world. When I want to think about a problem in a different way, I open this book. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and HappinessNudge is about how people make choices, and how they can be encouraged to make better choices. Thaler and Sunstein cite extensive behavioral science research, revealing surprising insights into how people make decisions, and how they can be ‘nudged’ towards better choices. The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James GarretThe first time I read the Elements of User Experience was probably the first time I actually understood what a user experience designer actually does. This book is specifically about User Experience Design for the web. These days many people see user experience design as something that is not just on the web. Anyway, this book does a great job of describing how to create a website from start to finish. The examples are old but the principals in the book are still very much relevant. If you’re just getting started making stuff on the internet, this is a good book to check out. Talent is Not Enough by Shel PerkinsWhen we started Distill, we knew some stuff about design, but we didn’t know much about running a design business. We had never done it before. This book is a solid reference manual for design businesses, providing information on business development, pricing, hiring, intellectual property, and many other unique challenges that design firms face. Thoughtless Acts by Jane Fulton Suri + IDEOJane Fulton Suri is a pioneer in human centered design. Her book thoughtless acts is a collection of photographs that reveal the intuitive ways in which people ‘adapt, exploit, and react to things in our environment, things we do without really thinking”. Urban Scan, by LOT/EKLOT-EK is an amazing architecture firm that pioneered the use of shipping containers in architecture. If I could live in a house they designed, I would. I bought this book in college and still come back to it to get inspired. This is Service Design Thinking by Mark Stickdorn and Jackb SchneiderThis is Service Design Thinking is the definitive guide to service design. If you’re interested in User Experience design, then you will probably want to read up about service design. The book defines what service design is, and examines a number of tools that service designers use, including fun stuff like customer journey maps, and service blueprints. It also provides a number of service design case studies. Designing Brand Identity by Alina WheelerIf you’re designing or redesigning a brand or identity, you need to read Designing Brand Identity. Wheeler’s book gives an exhaustive review of a professional brand identity design process, from research all the way through visual design, and brand management. Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves PigneurIf you’re doing anything related to starting or growing a business, then you need to at least be aware of the Business Model Canvas. Osterwalder and Pigneur’s book tells you what the BMC is, and how you can use it. Here in Silicon Valley, it seems the BMC has replaced the business plan as standard way to describe a new business. If there is one framework you learn this year, make it this one. Microinteractions by Dan SafferThis is a really fun book that will get you looking at interaction design in a different way. It focuses on the tiny little interactions that make up an experience, and different ‘micro’ ways those interactions can be shaped. Lots of the content for this book comes from the venerable blog, Little Big Details. The Brand Gap by Marty NeumeierIn my opinion, this, along with Designing Brand Identity, is essential reading for anyone that works with or on brands. Read this If you want to fundamentally understand, what branding is, and how businesses can succeed by developing a brand strategy and executing on it.