Reading books from experienced industry professionals has always been a key part of mastering any subject. Product design is certainly no exception. By peeking into the minds of experienced designers, you can pick up valuable knowledge that can give you an edge in your industry.

This article will provide you with a selection of recommended reads from the finest minds in product design.

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Top Product Design Books to Read

These books will give you a chance to learn from top designers with successful product design careers. Gain valuable insight into the challenges and issues faced while working in the field on a day-to-day basis.

Well-Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love
By Jon Kolko

Can you really create a great product without a deep understanding of the user? If you want your product to be successful, considering people’s emotions and expectations is absolutely vital. That’s the work of a great product designer.

Inexperienced UX designers will create a great-looking product using the very latest technology, expensive raw materials, and talented engineers, while neglecting the one thing that matters most, empathy.

Empathy is essential as it creates consumer loyalty. If you design a product from the consumer’s perspective, and the product has a personal touch, you drastically reduce your chances of failure. For this reason, thorough research and innovation is a significant part of the product development process.

This book addresses Product Design through the lens of Product Management. It advocates a design-led process to focus on customer needs and feelings from start to finish. Kolko’s book is recommended for both established Product Managers and design students.

The Design of Everyday Things
By Don Norman

If you’re a Product Designer and you haven’t read this book, then you’re missing out! The author demonstrates the use of cognitive science and user-oriented techniques to design great products.

This book will teach you how to look at product design in a new light. Norman examines everyday objects like keypads and light switches, with incredible detail. He also recognizes the importance of studying not just successful designs, but flawed designs too. We can often learn more from mistakes and failures than we can from successes.

Although the book was written in the 1980s, it is still very much relevant today. In addition, it’s interesting to look back at the design predictions made by Norman at the time of writing. Most of them have actually come true!

Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society
By John W. Gardner

Are you interested in knowing why societies survive or die? If yes, then grab this product design book. It will address the reasons behind the survival and decay of societies and individuals. Key properties of product design, like flexibility and rigidity, are discussed in-depth by Gardner, along with why having a vision is essential to keep moving forward.

In a world full of challenges and competition, an individual must grow and seek fulfillment. This book has a philosophical touch, and will definitely leave you inspired!

Start with Why
By Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” and this belief is clearly reflected in his product design book. According to Sinek, the question “why” should be the driving force behind every creation or design. Thinking in the right direction is the first step towards a successful career in product design.

Another important topic covered by the book is leadership. In this context, he brings up Martin Luther King Jr. as a powerful inspiring leader. Leadership and the “why” question are related to the marketing of a product because these factors can influence potential customers and their behavior.  These are honest methods of earning loyalty without manipulating customers.

All in all, it’s an inspiring book packed with content as interesting as the title!

Don’t Make Me Think
By Steve Krug

This one is particularly suitable for all the web designers and product designers alike. It will give you insight into creating the perfect user experience. The illustrations in the book make the reading and learning experience engaging. Furthermore, the book doesn’t have complicated jargon or highly technical details, making it an easy read.

The title of the book suggests that no web page should make the user wonder what it is about. It should be self-explanatory. And it’s the job of the designer to make it self-evident and clear. If the user finds it confusing, they will quickly find an alternative site to visit.

The concepts and principles presented in this book will no doubt push your product design career in the right direction.

Creativity Inc
By Ed Catmull

As is evident from the title, the emphasis is on creativity. The author combines his own experience with some useful insight into Product Design and Management.

The creation of an inclusive and thriving corporate culture is crucial. Uncertainties are an inevitable part of life, but successful business and culture embraces uncertainty and turns it into opportunity.

If you aspire to be a great product designer by managing people and utilizing their creativity, this book is for you.

How to Be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul
By Adrian Shaughnessy

This is a perfect book for young designers starting out. It discusses solutions to common problems that you might face when beginning your Product Design career. Learn from the author’s own experiences.

There are 3 product design aspects that are emphasized by Shaughnessy:

Understanding these key points should help you move forward in your industry. The interviews with some renowned designers will help you to learn and incorporate some useful principles in your own designs.

Herb Lubalin: Art Director, Graphic Designer, and Typographer
By Gertrude Snyder and Alan Peckolick

The title says it all! This book is about the famous American designer Herb Lubalin. He made some legendary contributions to the design industry including the Avant-Garde logo, and he continues to influence the world of product design.

You will be mesmerized by the engaging layout of this product design book. It includes logos, media promotions, book designs, letterheads, and type designs. A close look at Herb Lubalin’s life and work cannot fail to inspire.

This book is particularly relevant for those wanting to follow in the footsteps of Lubalin and become a Graphic Designer.

Books are Just The Beginning

If you take your career seriously, and want to truly excel in product design, you should start reading the works of the experts.

The sheer diversity of knowledge that can be gleaned from books, will provide a great introduction to your learning.

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If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more, check out the UX/UI Design section of our blog.

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