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Book Recommendations

Challenge your perspective with books recommended by design leaders, speakers at our events.

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Self-Help
The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life

I recommend this book because living with a positive outlook has made a huge impact on my life, my relationships, and how I navigate challenging problems, especially at work. This book is packed with data and research which shows the importance of rewiring our brains for optimism and how the outcome of your work isn't what makes you happy, it's what you do along the way.

Recommended by:
Design Community Manager, Zendesk
Management
The Tyranny of Metrics

It has been a pretty engaging read. The book examines the mindset of "metrics fixation" across many industries and gave some good examples on how putting too much emphasis on metrics can be detrimental to decision making, innovation and society in general. This book is super relevant to a lot of problems we face in workplaces and it's refreshing to see how the same issue manifests in different industries.

Recommended by:
Product Designer, Facebook
The first 90 Days

I recently read this book: “The First 90 days” prior to starting my new job. The book talks about how to set yourself up for success in the first 3 months of your job and helps you form that plan. It would be good for you if you are like me and don’t want to mess up on the first weeks. The book can help you frame conversations so you can understand what has led to team success and failures and how you can bring value. I personally like the structure because direct questions can help team members share challenges or accomplishments that they might not talk about in a regular conversation.

Recommended by:
Product Designer, Google
Self-Help
The courage to be disliked

I have just started reading The Courage to Be Disliked, and it has been life-changing. It explains the philosophies of the psychologist, Alfred Adler, with a conversation between two people.

Recommended by:
Design Lead, InVision
Self-Help
No Hard Feelings

This book teaches you how to manage how you feel at work with sharp guidance and beautiful illustrations.

Recommended by:
Sr. Product Design Manager, OpenTable
Management
It doesn't have to be crazy at work

I chose this book because there's a pervading culture of overworking ourselves and our teams, and as a manager, you can really be part of a positive shift away from that. This book is a collection of "work smarter, not harder" ideas that challenge the day-to-day grind of modern tech work. It may package sections with silly little titles like "No fakecations" and "Don't be a knee-jerk" but it will inspire you to rethink at least a few of the status quos in your work life, and be more mindful of how you set your team up to be happy and successful.

Recommended by:
Design Manager, Netflix
Management
Radical Candor

This book has given me the language to better understand how to be more honest with my team and enable them to be more productive.

Recommended by:
Design Manager, Airbnb
Decision Making
The Making of A Manager

A book that has been mind-expanding recently is Julie Zhou 'The Making of a Manager'. The book has been partly responsible for helping me find my own style as a manager; while acting as a field guide for common situations while managing designers.

Recommended by:
UX Design Manager at LinkedIn
Accessibility
Accessibility for Everyone

This book makes accessibility, well, accessible for everyone. The author does a great job breaking down the basics of accessibility, without ever getting too in the weeds. It’s a great as a quick reference and easy enough to read in a single weekend. Allison likes giving it to PMs to read to help them understand how low-effort accessibility can be.

Recommended by:
Senior Manager, Design Systems, Zendesk
Decision Making
Thanks for The Feedback

A fantastic book for the creative industry and has had a huge impact on me professionally. It's a book focused on how to receive feedback, whether it's a stakeholder critiquing your work, your boss during your performance review, or your loved ones having feelings about your hair color.

Recommended by:
Design Manager, Lyft
Negotiation
Getting to Yes

Recommended by:
Partner, Area 120, Google
Decision Making
Mindset

This book completely changed my relationship with feedback and altered the trajectory of my confidence. Instead of seeing every task as a test I had to pass in order to prove that I was worthy, I realized I only had to change my mindset and see the tasks before me as opportunities to learn and grow. We, humans, are capable of extraordinary things, but the biggest blocker to achieving our full potential often lies in our mindset, not our externalities. If you’ve ever read my newsletter or blog, you’ll hear me dropping Carol Dweck’s name every other week because that’s how much of an impact her research has had on me. (And yes, there is a robust section dedicated to adopting the right mindset in my book The Making of a Manager, as well).

Recommended by:
Managing Partner, Inspirit
Information Theory
The Information

It's not explicitly about design, but I love that it talks about the evolution of information itself, which is what we as designers are the architects and organizers of.

Recommended by:
Senior Interaction Designer, Google
Design Systems
Key Concepts for the Fashion Industry

We can’t really talk about (worthwhile) design systems without talking about how they are adopted, and how they change over time. This book is a quick, content-rich introduction to fashion theories and a nice parallel to digital product design work.

Recommended by:
UX Director, Google
Decision Making
Thinking Fast and Slow

Recommended by:
Sr. Director of UX, Glassdoor
Design Systems
Thinking in Systems

Recommended by:
Director of Design, Shopify
Technically Wrong

What was your favorite place to visit as a child? When's your anniversary? Where did you meet your husband or wife? These are seemingly harmless security questions, yet I feel frustrated when asked to define myself by my marital status. And what about the people who don't have anything "favorite" about their childhood? How do these questions make them feel? It's emotions and questions like these that led me to start reading Technically Wrong, by Sara Wachter-Boettcher. Many of the services we rely on are full of oversights, biases, and ethical issues: Chatbots that harass women. Signup forms that fail anyone who's not straight. Since we're talking about principles today, I thought I'd share Sara's message about how it's time for tech to get principled and start actively questioning our biases and assumptions. I've seen first-hand the positive impact diversity has on teams and the products we create for other humans. Reading this introductory book will help you challenge your own ways of thinking and encourage you to pause and consider the consequences your products can have on humanity.

Recommended by:
Content Strategist, Shopify
Management
Deep Work

Deep Work helped me understand the importance of setting aside long, uninterrupted periods of work every morning and led me to do some of my most meaningful design work.

Recommended by:
Product Designer, Framer
Management
Principles

Recommended by:
Director of Design, Facebook
Product Design
Hooked

The book deals with human behavior and the steps (tricks) that make people change their behavior when it comes to digital products. Although the book talks about how products become almost addictive, it made me think more about the social responsibilities that we as UX professional and citizens of this world. As a whole, is what you're creating making a positive or negative impact? Because many times there is a gray line between what is good and what is not so good.

Recommended by:
Leadership
Creativity Inc

Recommended by:
Design Director, Google
Design Systems
Systems Bible: The Beginner's Guide to Systems Large and Small

This book has been instrumental to me in building our design system.

Recommended by:
Director of Design, Shopify
Negotiation
Never Split the Difference

I got a lot from this book on how to use empathy and emotional intelligence in discussions and negotiations.

Recommended by:
Sr. Product Design Manager, Slack
Time Management
Getting Things Done

In terms of being a better engineer, Getting Things Done looks about as generic as it comes, but it teaches core fundamentals of time and project management that every engineer should know. At a senior level, engineering is really just project management and setting expectations. This book was incredibly helpful in starting to operate within those parameters. ‍‍

Recommended by:
Head of Engineering, Slack
Product Design
The Art of Looking Sideways

In general, no book has influenced me in terms of design/product thinking like The Art of Looking Sideways. It's random, dense, and any single page is a source of inspiration.

Recommended by:
Head of Engineering, Slack
VR/AR
Ready Player One

When you join Oculus, you get a copy of Ready Player One, a pretty great (and dystopian) novel about Virtual Reality that gets people pretty excited about the potential of VR.

Recommended by:
Design Manager, Uber
Communication
Articulating Design Decisions

I strongly believe that success in design is directly connected to communication - creation is only part of the story - communicating the why behind the creation is equally important. Understanding how to respond to questions, comments and feedback on your designs will ensure that your design team is value and respected.

Recommended by:
Experience Researcher, Lyft
Decision Making
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Working within a role where you are guiding UX teams down recommended paths can be stressful. In DesignOps, you are often confronted daily on decisions and problem solving. This book has helped me to be more intentional and prescriptive about the choices I am making not only for the teams I’m working with, but for myself and my own career path. I recommend this book to anyone in DesignOps who is struggling with making decisions and finding it difficult to stop to think and reflect. The book has been very influential in my personal journey towards happiness and fulfillment.

Recommended by:
Design & Research Operations, LinkedIn
End of Average

This book provided great insights about how there is no average person (physically, intellectually, etc) so the idea of working to be "above average" is an unfair and unrealistic expectation we put on ourselves and others. Most importantly, because schools, companies and others use these averages to measure people, it forces us to work at becoming the average instead of embracing our individuality. As a mother, manager, and person passionate about inclusive design this motivates me to encourage myself and others to set goals based on real individuals and ourselves -- not an idealized standard that describes no one. ‍

Recommended by:
Head of Accessibility UX, Google
Leadership
Presence

The reason why I recommend this book is because it can be challenging taking on a new role and it can be even more challenging managing people in a role that is still considered ambiguous. Amy Cuddy’s book helped me become “present” and start pushing past the fear of being in high-pressure moments and learning how to embrace those moments one day at a time. For anyone starting out in designops or managing in general, I highly recommend this book. You’ll be standing in the bathroom doing power poses without even thinking about it.

Recommended by:
Design Operations Consultant
Management
The Power of Full Engagement

Managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal by Tony Schwartz. This one sounds hokey but I’ve read it a few times and its especially good for people who are further in their careers wondering how they can continue to maintain the pace and expectations in their roles. The Bay Area is a pretty fast moving place with intense competition and expectations – so, how do you manage?

Recommended by:
Design Ops Leader
Management
Org Design for Design Orgs

This book lays out the specifics of how to build out a team in a way that I’ve found to be true in my own experience.

Recommended by:
Design Ops Leader
Leadership
The Art of Gathering

I recommend it because, in our Design Ops role, we are often playing the role of "host" - from leading meetings to design team events - and Priya's book is the ultimate guide for how to make those gatherings as meaningful and memorable as possible.

Recommended by:
Design & Research Operations, Twitter
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