Books for Designing
Update Nov. 2018
This list was originally written in 2015, I’ve gone through and updated broken links and added a few more books to the list.
We’ve started a new exercise at work where we host a “Design Potluck” every Monday where anyone in the company is welcome to bring pieces of design to a group where we discuss what we think is successful or unsuccessful, and how it could relate to our company. Aside from keeping us current with design from the real world, it’s a great opportunity for my coworkers from non-design backgrounds to expand their design vocabulary.
After this week’s meeting I got a number of people expressing interest in practical design theory and history. I credit a large part of my working knowledge to the books I read in my formative years leading up to college and graduation. In addition to reading design books I had heard about on various blogs, I benefitted greatly from a formal art education that included classes about art theory and history from antiquity. First assembled for other members of DoSomething design and product teams, I put together a page of highly influential books that informed my design education. Loosely organized in order of most impactful per category, I’ve copied the list below. All Amazon links are Smile links benefitting the Heaven Can Wait Animal Sanctuary.
- Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
- Principles of Two-Dimensional Design by Wucius Wong
- Interaction of Color by Josef Albers
- Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips
- Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton
- Making and Breaking the Grid by Timothy Samara
- The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte
Design and Art Theory
- The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
- The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero
- Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud
- The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher
- Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler
- The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde
- A Short Guide to Writing About Art by Sylvan Barnet
Product and UX
- Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
- Designing with the Mind in Mind by Jeff Johnson
- Product Design for the Web by Randy J. Hunt