9 Best must-read books for Designers
Here are my key takeaways along with this evolving list of design books that I am curating for everyone interested in design career specifically in Brand Identity and UI/UX
Here in this blog, we are going to go through the list of design books I recommend to everyone who is looking to establish themselves in the design discipline.
As the design books are bit on expensive side so I am not only sharing the resources to buy the book from amazon but also links to listen free but valuable podcasts/youtube videos related to them.
Along with it I am adding link to read them online on kindle which is less costly option in comparison to buying actual book further in the blog.
I have tagged my key takeaways in form of quotes extracted from these books which I am sure are going to be like guiding light to all design enthusiasts.
Here is a quick list of the books
- “How to” by Michael Bierut
- “Logo Design Love” by David Airey
- “The Brand Gap” by Marty Neumeier
- “User-friendly” by Cliff Kuang with Robert Fabricant
- “Steal like an artist” by Austin Kleon
- “Type Matters” by Jim Williams
- “Design as Art” by Bruno Munari
- “Design of everyday things” by Don Norman
- “Pocket full of Do” by Chris Do
Let’s Start and dive into each one of them🏄♂️
1. “How To” by “Michael Bierut”
“How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh make people cry, and every once in a while change the world.”
Graphic designers, Brand Identity designers, UI/UX designers
The cover of the book is self-explanatory about the vision with the skillset of graphic design. There is a chapter in the book called “How to destroy the world with graphic design?” which is not only relevant to brand designers but also UX designers.
I have referred to this book multiple times while facing creative block working on design projects. It covers many case studies of brand identity projects and opens up your mind to imagine new ideas and possibilities.
Here are a few words from the chapter “How to create an identity without the logo?”
Important characteristic of a great brand is consistency. This is different from sameness. Sameness is static & lifeless. Consistency is responsive and vibrant.
— Tibor Kalman
I highly recommend this book to every designer to read this book. It will guide you in developing your design process by showing you how an appreciated designer like Michael Bierut approaches his work.
2. “Logo Design Love” by “David Airey”
Logo Design Love: A guide to creating iconic brand identities
Logo & Brand Identity designers
When I started designing I assumed logo designing as the extent of brand identity design. By reading both books (1st & 2nd in list) I understood how elaborate and intensive Brand Identity design is.
This book is one step guide from learning and developing the logo design process to pitching, pricing and developing the mindset of business of design.
Simplicity also makes your design easier to recognise, so it stands a greater chance of achieving a timeless, enduring quality.
— David Airey
If you are looking to dive into the world of brand identity design and become an expert. This book will elevate your current skillset.
3. “The Brand gap” by “Marty Neumeier”
The Brand Gap
Brand Strategists & Identity designers
The traditional view of design is that it has four possible goals: to identify, to inform, to entertain or to persuade. But with branding there is fifth: to differentiate. While the first four are tactical, the fifth is strategic, with its root deep in aesthetics — a powerful combination of logic and magic.
— Marty Neumeier
This book gives practical advice on bridging the gap between brand strategy and design.
It is a must-read for designers who are looking to enhance their skills and become a brand strategist.
4. “User Friendly” by “Cliff Kuang with Robert Fabricant”
User Friendly: How the Hidden Rules of Design are Changing the Way We Live, Work & Play
Cliff Kuang with Robert Fabricant
User Experience designers
Design is the silent salesman. — Dreyfuss
Author in the book discusses that the role of designer is to know why people behave as they do — and design around their foibles and limitations, rather than some ideal.
There are some real-life situations discussed in it where a certain mishap resulted due to misleading design. These scenarios depict the power design holds and how dangerous it can be when design and mental model in user’s mind do not synchronise well.
5. “Steal Like an Artist” by “Austin Kleon”
Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
Art is theft. — Pablo Picasso
This book leads you to a process of design that holds stealing as its building block. You must be shocked to hear that but to understand it further you need to read the book.
All creative work builds on what comes before. Nothing is completely original.
— Austin Kleon
This book is for every designer and artist because it has 10 things that nobody told you about being creative. And you need to know them!
6. “Type Matters” by “Jim Williams”
Complete Title Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
Written by Jim Williams
Recommended for Graphic Designers, Brand Identity Designers, UI designers, everyone who works with fonts
View/Buy on Amazon
Free related resources
Watch typography basics on Youtube by Envato
Type Matters is a guide to typography fundamentals. Everything is explained using typographic examples. It briefly covers almost all the aspects that will help you understand the world of typography.
7. “Design as Art” by “Bruno Munari”
Design as Art
Artists & Designers
Free related resources
Listen to the related short free podcast
Bruno Munari (October 24, 1907, in Milan — September 30, 1998, in Milan) was an Italian artist, designer, and inventor who contributed fundamentals to many fields of visual arts (painting, sculpture, film, industrial design, graphic design) in modernism, futurism, and concrete art, and in non-visual arts (literature, poetry). I highly recommend reading and looking at his work to understand and be inspired by his exceptional work.
A leaf is beautiful not because it is stylish but because it is natural, created in its exact form by its exact function. A designer tries to make an object as naturally as a tree puts forth a leaf.
— Bruno Munari
This book should be read by designers and artists. Its meaning lives in the intersection of both subjects. It is of relevance to designers of all kinds of disciplines. Particularly I have come across many concepts in it which are also relevant for UX designers.
8. “Design of Everyday things” by “Don Norman”
Design of everyday things
User Experience designers
This book is for everyone — designers and non-designers. Goal of this book is to turn readers into observers of the absurd, of the poor design that gives rise to so many problems.
Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good design fits our need so well that the design is invisible, serving us without drawing attention to itself. Bad design, on the other hand, screams out its inadequacies, making itself more noticeable.
— Don Norman
Don Norman along with Jacob Nielson established the Nielson Norman group which is a pioneer in the advocacy of user-centred design.
This book is written in simple language and it talks about the user-centred design approach ie “keeping users in charge of whether a design is good or bad” and that “every design decision should be primarily inspired from the user’s need and behaviour”.
This book lays the foundation of “User experience design”. It should be on top of the shelf of at least every UX designer.
9. “Pocket of Full Do” by “Chris Do”
Pocket full of Do
For everyone in Design Business
“Pocket full of Do” is loaded with so many experiences that help you build your “design career” and “design business”. Sharing three of my key takeaways
1. From Chapter Start Empty
Assumptions. Preconcieved ideas. Bias. These are all the things that conspire against your ability to listen and to truly hear and see things for what they are.
2. From Chapter Fail forward
There are only two intentions in life: one is to learn and second is to be right. You can choose to be right but you’ll be very lonely.
3. From Chapter Why people buy
A transaction only happens when both parties see greater value in what they get than what they give.
Every sentence in this book is rich in experience and every chapter is a life lesson. I recommend this book to everyone!
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