Dictionaries of UX design principles

< Back to UX topics. We hardly ever read a book from start to finish. What’s great about design dictionaries is you can browse, get inspired and look up knowledge about design in a creative way. Great for learning, great for brushing up on the design principles that matter.


Universal Principles of Design: 125 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design by William Lidwell style=

A must-have book for any UX designer. Each fold in the book is dedicated to an important design principles, and the book presents 125 of them, each communicated in an accessible way. It’s also beautifully made, so you will definitely want to keep this one.


Designing for Interaction: Creating Innovative Applications and Devices by Dan Saffer style=

In this important book, Dan Saffer takes the reader through a myriad of principles and methods for the interaction designer. The book both lists the Elements, Laws and Characteristics of interaction design, and explains both research and design methods in a great way. A must-have book for a UX designer involving in designing interactions. It’s also accessible and not too heavy.

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Designing Interfaces by Jennifer Tidwell style=

This book is an encyclopedio of  user interface design patterns. In “Designing Interfaces”, you will find proven ways of doing things. Everything from organizing content, navigating, and organizing information is in there. Also, the book gives attention to user actions, form design and visual design patterns. This book is from 2004, so it’s not completely recent, but what you’ll discover is that many of the current design patterns in use in 2016 have their origins in earlier patterns like the ones listed in this book.

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101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick style=

This is a cool, little dictionary of 101 design principles for architects. But it applies to UX designers as well. You will be able to apply many of the principles, or if translated into meta, them all. The book has simple illustrations and it’s just a joy to have on your desk. We love it!

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Microsoft Windows User Experience Official Guidelines by Microsoft Corporation style=

This gem was originally written in 1999 for developers (User Experience designers didn’t exist in impressive numbers back then), and it is an impressive dictionary of user interface design patterns and user experience guidelines. You will find it very useful as a UX designer, if you ever touch software. It has a lot of historical signifance and fathered many of the guidelines and UI patterns we take for granted today (like close, minimize, prompts, action buttons etc). As such, it fits into the larger picture of how User Experience came to be. It’s more than just a look-up book for programmers. It’s actually a historical design thinking encyclopedia.

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About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper style=

The Interaction Design manual “About Face” both has an important section on interaction design values and principles, user research methods and design patterns for designing most user interface elements. It has become a best seller for the reason that it covers such a broad range of subjects on interaction design.

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100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan M Weinschenk style=

This is not really a dictionary, but it still made the list. It has 100 important “principles” of human decision-making and behavior, each adressed in a few pages. So you can use it as an encyclopedio for user research, and to assist in making better daily design decisions in UX. If you are engaged in user research, or just want to learn more about the people you are designing for, this one is for you. It’s also a current best seller.

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Didn’t find your pick? Explore more UX books1 at Amazon.