5 Essential Product Design Books to Read This Year

There are numerous industrial and product design books on the market – most with the shared goal of helping product designers improve their skills or gain a fresh perspective of their industry.

Share Tweet
Published inCareer Development
Featured photo

But, it can be difficult to figure out which product design books to add to one’s library. After allthere are thousands of product design books out there!

The good news is that Authentic Jobs is here to help. In this article, we’ll explain the types of books designers typically read and we’ll share the top 5 product design books to read this year! Just keep reading.

In the Article:

  1. Types of Books Designers Typically Read
  2. Why You Should Read About Product Design
  3. 5 Essential Product Design Books 
  4. Related Articles
two people reading side by side

Types of Books Designers Typically Read

Designers, like all creative professionals, read a variety of books to gain industry insights, sharpen their skills and receive practical advice from seasoned pros.

Everyone is different, of course. But, there are a few types of books that designers typically read. Those books include:

  • How-To Books
  • Philosophical Books
  • Scientific Books
  • Creative Self-Help Books
  • Industry-Specific Books

How-To Books

When you look on a designer’s bookshelf, you may find a how-to book or two. These types of design books explain creative methods and are usually written by industry leaders, experienced designers, or educators with expertise in design-related subjects.

Philosophical Books

Philosophy books are useful because they help designers develop their professional values and often provide a historical context for a certain design process. Philosophy books can cover a wide range of topics including user research, design thinking, and human behavior but aren’t limited to those topics.

Scientific Books

For many designers, scientific books can provide a context for understanding a given subject matter and can even be a source of design inspiration. From books on natural relationships to human psychology, scientific books can help designers establish objective principles that guide their design process.

Creative Self-Help Books

Self-help books are read by individuals who work in a variety of industries. However, designers and other creative professionals tend to find value in self-help books that help them enhance their careers in some aspects. From books on improving client relations to survival guides for freelancers, these types of books offer eminently practical advice for those feeling stuck in creative ruts or those who need help navigating a collaborative process.

Industry-Specific Books

Industry-specific books help designers keep up with the latest in trends, tech, and successful products hitting the market. They often review the current state of an industry or provide predictions for trends to come soon. Other industry-specific books focus on the lives of designers – everything from autobiographies on web designers and product designers to literature on how design thinking transforms organizations.

row of books covering different subjects and areas of knowledge

Why You Should Read About Product Design

There are many reasons why designers and design enthusiasts read about product design. Some are in search of advice from seasoned pros, others seek to gain a deep understanding of the industry.

So, why should you read about product design? It’s a valid question – especially if you have worked on a product team or as an independent product designer.

But, rest assured that there are benefits to reading about the product design industry. Here are a few:

  • Product design books can help you keep up with the latest design trends – from mobile apps to web usability, you can find a book that covers just about everything.
  • Reading can help product designers improve design thinking skills, learn how to design intuitive user interfaces, or inspire new ideas – it all depends on the type of product design books one reads.
  • A designer can develop effective human communication skills by expanding their knowledge.
library with book shelves and edison light bulbs, possibly with design books

5 Essential Product Design Books

  1. The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition by Don Norman

In his book, The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman explains the fundamentals of design. Offering psychological reasoning to explain design choices, Norman’s book examines the role design plays in one’s everyday life.

Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible.

– The Design of Everyday Things

  1. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

If you’re looking for a playbook to help you create products, look no further than Hooked. In this book, Eyal explains the “hook model”, a four-step solution to developing a product design process that results in objects that become a part of users’ everyday lives. In Hooked, Eyal provides case studies and industry-relevant examples that show the hook model in action. And, the author takes it a step further by providing key takeaways at the end of each chapter as well.

To change behavior, products must ensure the user feels in control.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

  1. Design for Cognitive Bias by David Dylan Thomas

Understanding other humans is not an easy task. And, unconsciously, biases can affect how we design and the products we interact with. Design for Cognitive Bias seeks to help readers become more self-evident so they can design with an objective mindset. 

We humans are messy, illogical creatures who like to imagine we’re in control – but we blithely let our biases lead us astray.

– Design for Cognitive Bias

  1. Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan

Need a crash course in product design? This title examines how technology companies continuously innovate and create products that appeal to millions across the world. The chapters of Inspired outline strategies product designers can use to conduct user research, enhance their design thinking skills and test their products on end-users. Think of this book as a glossary of technical terms and design principles – which makes it useful for designers at varying stages of their careers. 

Winning products comes from the deep understanding of the users’ needs combined with an equally deep understanding of what’s just now possible.

–  Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

  1. Sprint by Jake Knapp

If you’ve been operating with a single perspective in mind and want to read something that challenges your product design process, Sprint might be the book for you. In his book, Knapp examines product design efficiencies to create a comprehensive guide that will help readers create testable prototypes in just 5 days! 

By asking people for their input early in the process, you help them feel invested in the outcome.

– Sprint