Influential Books on Design

I've been interested for some time in getting other people's perspectives on a number of topics but most recently on the topic of the most influential books on design. So, I asked the followers of my @ibmdesign and @karelvredenburg Twitter accounts the question, "What's the most influential book you've read on design that you'd recommend to others?" I received a number of really good responses so thought I'd share them here. I've decided to include the additional words people used in describing their books. It is interesting to note that five people mentioned books by Donald Norman with the first four recommending "The Design of Everyday Things" and the fifth recommending his more recent "Emotional Design". The rest of the list includes some pretty interesting books some of which I know I haven't read but now will.


  • Donald Norman's "The Design of Everyday Things".
  • "The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald Norman, perhaps the best and most foundational design book.
  • I think Don Norman's "Design of Everyday Things" is a must-read for anyone who designs anything!
  • "Design of Everyday Things"
  • Most influential book: "Emotional Design" by Donald Norman
  • "Set Phasers on Stun" has great case studies of design gone awry.
  • "Dreaming in code" is an interesting guide to software development.
  • The most influential book on design that I have read is "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown. The audience is enormous.
  • "Computers and democracy: a scandinavian challenge" (1987) - first major participatory design publication in english
  • "Dont make me think" is the best design book. At least for me. Principals discussed applied any where.
  • "Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis" by Stephen Few
  • Jeff Johnson's "GUI Bloopers" is the most practical useable desktop reference for companies that don't have standards or UX staff.
  • "The Illusion of Life"; "Design is multidisciplinary", so I don't think we've only 1 most influential book
  • "Sketching User Experiences"
  • "Reflective Practitioner"
  • "A primer of visual literacy"

If you have any books to add to the list or have any comments on the books already listed, please leave a comment below.