10 UX books from the 90s that still rock

From our special collections, here’s a list of the oldies but goodies. You might think that being from the 90s means that a book has become outdated. On the contrary. Some books are extremely valid in the everyday life of a user experience designer today, in 2016.


Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) by Steve Krug style=

This one barely made the list, because it’s actually from the year 2000. But that must mean it has been written in 98-99. It’s a book that should be with every UX designer, because it teaches the core principle of designing usable web pages; removing the effort from the user. In the latest revised edition, there’s quite a lot of new material. So don’t be ashamed to have it on your desk, but don’t be surprised either: People will definitely say: “Oh, I know this one”. Even if they haven’t read it. If you’re in UX, you should though.

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Microsoft Windows User Experience Official Guidelines by Microsoft Corporation style=

Yes, Windows. They came up with UX, didn’t they? At least Microsoft started to use the term in their organisation in the 90s way before User Experience was a thing in the world. This book is originally written for developers, and it’s an impressive dictionary of user interface design patterns and user experience guidelines. It’s still valid today, also for it’s historical influence. But this is more than just a look-up book for programmers. It’s actually a historical design thinking encyclopedia. It won’t collect dust, we promise. it’s actually very interesting, and it will teach you good design.

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Designing Visual Interfaces: Communication Oriented Techniques by Kevin Mullet style= & Darrell Sano style=

This 1995 classic is still valid. It’s about how to design visual interfaces, and it presents overarching interface design principles rather than just example patterns. As such, it is more academic in nature, and it becomes timeless for the same reason. But it’s a joyful, not a slow read, let alone for the early 90s screenshots. You can surely apply a lot from this book in your 2016 UX design work.

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The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition by Don Norman style=

This book is not really from the 90s. It’s actually older – but we included it anyway, because this is such a gem. In this updated and revised edition of the 1988 classic, you will learn of the basic, underlying psychological mechanisms that drive interactions with everyday objects. For this, the book is quite timeless. This is one of those rare books that you return to again and again, for the fact that it also presents great, timeless examples of the principles of interaction design. Besides, we love it for being extremely unpretentious, something that newer books miss a lot – this book way written way before digital experiences was even “a thing”.

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Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests by Jeffrey Rubin style=

Amazingly, this book still holds water after more than 20 years. If you ever do usability testing – and you should – this book is completely valid. It is a timeless explanation and walkthrough of the elements needed to do proper usability testing. The book also outlines different kinds of usability tests that can be made in various stages of product development.

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#6: Designing Web Usability

Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen style=

One cannot address classic usability thinking without mentioning Jakob Nielsen. His book on Web Usability addresses some of the most important principles for designing usable web solutions, and the principles still holds true today. Jakob relies heavily on the guidelines of the Hypertext paradigm, something unknown by most designers today. For this, some of his principles for how to design usable web links might seem outdated, but on the other hand – hypertext is HTML – and the internet itself. So this is a 90s classic that still rocks

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Want to get inspired`? See more from our UX books special collections.

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