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The Best Books for Learning New Design Methods
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The Best Books for Learning New Design Methods

Kady Jesko
Senior Designer

Ah, remember when the last time you picked up a physical book to learn new things?

For some of us, this may have been years ago, in high school, or even college. Most designers nowadays opt to hop on Google and conduct a quick search or read blog posts when they want to learn further. However, few designers today tend to reach for physical books when they want to learn about new design methods they can add to their skillset.

What are UX design methods?

Design methods are procedures, techniques, aids, or tools for designing. They offer a number of different kinds of activities that a designer might use within an overall design process. - Wikipedia

Today, designers everywhere use a variety of design methods throughout every project. Collecting user-data through interviews, facilitating user groups, and conducting usability tests are just a few of the most common methods that designers use daily.

How to discover uncommon design methods

Do you ever wonder what other common, or better yet, uncommon methods exist? You may find yourself wondering about other potential methods, ones that are rarely used or often unmentioned in research method blog posts.

Most blogs and articles online usually speak to the most common design methods because no one wants to read a never-ending article. This leads to a focus on common methods that most of us already use. Even though books can be used as tools - easily picked up and quickly flipped through, they can offer us an avenue as designers to dive deeper into details of methods. These details may even be ones we didn't know existed; allowing us to understand a wider breadth.

design graphic in book

Books allow for expansion of design method knowledge

Books about various design methods are not only helpful in growing and expanding a designers' method toolbox – they also allow them to look deeper at a plethora of methods that may specifically correlate to their project; even within specific points of that project. Over the last few years, I've had wonderful opportunities to go through several dozen design method books - so instead of you having to figure out which ones might be most useful, I put together a list.

Recommended UX design method books

Some of the most useful design method books I have found offer a large range of design methods - both common and uncommon. Below is a list to help you spend more time identifying and learning useful design methods, and less time exploring all the various books.

design methods 1 book cover

Design Methods 1: 200 Ways to Apply Design Thinking

by Robert Curedale

The book is excellent at briefly explaining methods before showing how to execute them, and giving the list of supplies needed. It even lists resources for further learning about each method and its origins.

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the field guide to human-centered design book cover

The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design - Design Kit

by IDEO

A helpful tool for work or study projects with a "take action" approach. Easy to share with fellow team members and extending learners, it helps make a big difference in quickly identifying next, tangible steps.

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101 design methods book cover

101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization

by Vijay Kumar

This is an excellent book if you want to consider various aspects on "doing" design, while choosing the features you think will apply to your case. It's a great read on explaining the purpose of methods.

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universal methods of design book cover

Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions

by Bella Martin & Bruce M. Hanington

If you're looking for a book centered on research tactics, this is a great read. Having a diversity of ideas, they are presented concisely and are easily scannable.

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50 brainstorming methods book cover

50 Brainstorming Methods: For Team and Individual Ideation

by Robert Curedale

Curedale offers extensive, clear, and concise methods for enabling creative action. This book includes methods with a variety of approaches to brainstorming.

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innovating for people book cover

Innovating for People Handbook of Human-Centered Design Methods

by LUMA Institute

This book is easily comprehensible with a well-organized collection of design methods and practical descriptions. Great for those familiar with human-centered design, as well as those who are relatively new to the field. A handy compact companion resource.

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Books create another avenue of learning

While these specific books may or may not help every designer find the best method, they can still expand a designer's knowledge. This knowledge helps grow our method toolbox and use a variety of methods so that we design the best user experience. And as always, picking a method is dependent on what you are trying to learn more about. But the methods you learn through these books can help expand how you arrive at the design solution. And remember, your Reading teachers appreciate it.

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