The Top Ten Essential Interaction Design Books

As this is the season of lists and of gift giving, I thought I would put together the top ten books I thought every designer of interactive products should have in their library. I’ve also seen some reading lists floating around that leave out what are, to me, essential texts, or include books that are too focused on a particular medium (web, mobile). (For reasons of impartiality, I excluded my own book, Designing for Interaction, although I certainly hope it sits alongside these on the bookshelf.)

10. Shaping Things. The one book on this list that is specifically about the future. Sterling shows us the future of the objects we’ll design.

9. Designing Interactions. A history (albeit an IDEO-centric one) of the discipline, although woefully poor about the web. Still, worth it for some of the interviews.

8. Designing Interfaces. One of the reference books. Captures some really critical patterns.

7. Designing for People. Dreyfuss is of the giants of industrial design, and this book is one of the origins of user-centered design.

6. The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems. The late Jef Raskin evangelized a new way of thinking of our computers. Although dated, the principles still ring true.

5. The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design. A seminal collection of essays on everything from metaphors to task analysis from people like Alan Kay and Ted Nelson.

4. About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design. The best and most-readable edition of About Face. Personas, goal-directed design, and stances. All in here.

3. Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age. An excellent history of why our computers are they way they are.

2. Universal Principles of Design. So much great stuff in here. Every page is a reminder of something valuable and long-lasting.

1. The Design of Everyday Things. There’s no getting around it: this is the book. Affordances, mental models, and other bits that have all become part of the general lexicon all started with The Don’s book. A must read.

After this, of course, there are many great books that delve into particular types of interaction design, design theory, information and communication design, physical computing, and many other topics. But I think these ten books form the center of any interaction designer’s library. Feel free to add more in the comments!