, Design and UX Research

Following up on my previous product reading suggestions, I have five new recommendations. Notably, I took a break from digital  — a few of these have illustrations and formats best experienced in physical book format.

  1. Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie: I serendipitously read this book while off-the-grid camping for a few days. What fun to read this with trees, hills, and animal sounds as a backdrop beyond the physical book in my hands! Why? Because it is full of whimsical illustrations and personal stories that really make you take a look around and think. MacKenzie’s anecdotes are primarily centered on his ascending role at Hallmark as “Creative Paradox”, but really they are about fostering and maintaining creative energy, particularly in a business environment. Shout out to InVision for gifting this book at an event!
  2. INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan: The first edition of this book was published in 2008. I read it a few years later and have re-read it more than a handful of times. Simply, if you play any role in product development, this is a must-read. Earlier this year, I ordered a few copies to share with colleagues. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had been updated — I read the whole book once again before passing it on! It’s chockfull of advice, frameworks and models to think about when creating product and experiences. I often recommend this book to others.
  3. Design is Storytelling by Ellen Lupton: A few years ago, I was on a writing kick, so spent some time studying classic narrative structure. I immediately associated the process of crafting a story with that of product design and development. As such, I was quite excited when this book popped up. It’s a smart overview of design as a communication medium and as an introduction to the practice of interaction design with storytelling concepts weaved in. Given that this short book contains many visuals and illustrations (naturally), it’s a quick read that I still recommend. However, I was hoping for a bit more depth on how the different disciplines overlap.
  4. Just Enough Research by Erika Hall: This is another book often found on recommendation lists. Since I’ve been doing a lot of product research evangelism lately, I thought it about time to read this one! I enjoyed the straight-forward writing and real-world tips on incorporating product and user research in your process. It provides an approachable non-academic overview of research methodology, which is its strength. Particularly if you don’t have access to dedicated research professionals at your organization or company — this book inspires you to just get started!
  5. UX Methods: A Quick Guide to User Experience Research Methods by James Pannafino and Patrick McNeil: There are many great , podcasts, videos, blog posts and other resources about UX research (see #4, above, for one). This book is a great complement to any of them. Consider it a handy desk reference of more than 0 “methods” for gathering user insights — useful for beginners and experienced researchers. The guide is full of visual references for the different testing, exercises and analysis processes described.

Remember: Always be learning!

Leave a comment with your thoughts on any of these books or if you have recommendations on any for: product, design, research, marketing, or development.

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