Monday, October 26, 2009

List of Recommended Reading for IA / UX Professionals

When I was working on I had the pleasure of working with Josh Galban, a very accomplished Information Architect. I have not worked with many IA professionals as the IA has usually fallen in my lap to figure out. I can say that after working with him, I wish I had had him on all the projects I have worked on in the past. While my main focus and expertise when building websites is on production. How are we going to build this sucker? What kind of talent do I need? How much money do I have? and How long is this going to take? It's nice to have a person on your team always thinking about... Is this the best way to build this?

I really learned a lot working with him and was very impressed with his documentation and thought process. After the project launched I had to have lunch with him and pick his brain as to how he became such an expert. I asked him for a list of resources I could read to hopefully one day be just as informed as him and this is what he sent me.

"Jody, here's a long list of recommended books that have shaped how I work.  I strongly recommend these to UX professionals.  I don't keep up with many websites or blogs, but I've mentioned the ones I find most helpful:

First, I haven't read this, but it's probably going to be one of the best books around on user experience design.  I will probably read it, love it and recommend it from now on:
Designing for the Digital Age by Kim Goodwin

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman
This is one of the pioneering works in UX design.  It's based on Norman's cognitive psychology research.

About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper and Richard Reimann
Cooper is another key figure in UX design.  He has laid the groundwork for much of what UX people do.

Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug
Very short book on how to get good feedback on the merits of a design before committing lots of money to build something out.

Jakob Nielsen's website and books
I love Jakob Nielsen.  He's done a great service to the discipline by deriving results and insights based on empirical research.  Though, his presentation of those findings can make them a bit hard to stomach.

Bruce Tognazzini's website
Great insights from one of the key designers of the original Mac UI.

Edward Tufte's books and his website
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
Envisioning Information
Visual Explanations
Beautiful Evidence

Jared Spool's company User Interface Engineering and website
I recommend subscribing to his newsletter and Brain Sparks blog.  These days, they're doing a lot of research on how designers work.

The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception by James J. Gibson
Gibson is another pioneer of the UX discipline, but most practitioners have never heard of him.  Gibson pioneered a branch of psychology called "Ecological Psychology" which has nothing to do with the green movement.  His work explores human cognition has evolved and been shaped by the physical environment and the limitations/capabilities of the body.  He coined the term "affordances" which later showed up in Donald Norman's work.  "Affordances" are the indicators that give us an idea of how things work and how we can interact with them.  Underlined Links, for example, have become affordances for interactivity on websites.

Any of Henry Petroski's books
Petroski has several books about the evolution and design of everyday things like toothpicks, pencils, paperclips, books and bookshelves.  Get exploration of the forces that come together to shape an object.

The Paradox of Choice: Why Less Is More by Barry Schwartz
Computers as Theatre by Brenda Laurel
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
Source of Power: How People Make Desicisions by Gary Klein
Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate by Michael Schrage
A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
Writing Effective Use Cases by Alexander Cockburn
Why Businesspeople Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter's Guide by Fugere, Hardaway and Warshawsky
Crossing the Chasm by Moore
The World Without Us by Weisman"

Since this list is soooo in-depth I had to share it with my readers. Please leave a comment and let me know if you know of any other resources that an aspiring IA should read. Thanks....

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