1. Graphic Design: The New Basics, revised and updated by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips
Most design educations start with a primer on visual literacy. It is important to understand the mechanics of visual language in order to apply it effectively. There are many books that cover this subject well, but this seems to be the most popular option these days.
2. Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell
This book reads more like a collection of short one page lessons on various topics of principle. While there is not enough room in such a format to approach most of these topics with much depth, each page contains excellent references for further reading. Overall, it is a useful and very enjoyable book, jumping through all kinds of theories and principles that underline design. If nothing else, I think you would enjoy this.
3. Universal Methods of Design by Bruce Hanington and Bela Martin
This book follows the same format as the book above, but focuses on design ideation and research methods. Not nearly as fun, but a good useful primer on design iteration and research methodologies.
4. The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition by Don Norman
An excellent primer on how design principles co-relate to everyday experiences. Critically important read for Interactive Design.
5. Information Anxiety 2 by Richard Saul Wurman
The man behind TED, is also considered the godfather of Information Architecture. Collection of articles and ideas related to how we think, learn, perceive and interact with the world. Of this first section of books, this is the only one I would deem optional.
1. Stop Stealing Sheep (3rd Edition) by Erik Spiekermann
This is the best introduction to typography I can think of. Very clear, very easy to read, very illustrative. Unfortunately, like most beginners books, its re-read value is low.
3. Elements of Typographic Style version 4.0 by Robert Bringhurst
This is the definitive reference on typography. Most professionals own this.
4. Designing Type by Karen Cheng
If you want to design a typeface, there is no more useful a reference book I know of than this.
1. Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Second Edition by Edward R. Tufte
This is a must read, a 20th century classic book. Edward Tufte is the definitive guru of information design. His style of writing is different than most books on this list, as he looks at historical examples while illustrating the underlying principles in a more narrative style. The principles outlined in these four books are relevant to design as a whole, and highly relevant to user interface design.
2. Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte
If the last book proved worth your while, don’t stop. Here is the 2nd book in this series, another essential classic, even if slightly repetitive.
3. Visual Explanations by Edward R. Tufte
Did you enjoy the second book? Here is the 3rd book in this series, another essential classic, even if slightly repetitive.
4. Beautiful Evidence by Edward R. Tufte
Still want more? The 4th and last written book in this series, another essential classic, even if slightly repetitive.
1. Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
Short, to the point, great examples, a light read with heavyweight information.
2. Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug
An addendum to the previous book in the exact same stye, this focuses exclusively on fixing usability problems through testing.
3. About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design (4th Edition) by Alan Cooper
A highly respected book on interface design, this resource is referenced in countless interactivity books.
4. Designing for the Digital Age by Kim Goodwin
Arguably the most ambitious and comprehensive resource on the digital design profession.
1. The Business of Graphic Design: The RGD Professional Handbook
The first and only comprehensive Canadian guide to maintaining a graphic design business.
2. Success By Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers by David Sherman
This is by far and away the best (and most accurate) book on the realities of running a graphic design business. A must read for anyone considering venturing out on their own.
Design Culture & History
1. Graphic Design, Referenced by Armin Vit & Bryony Gomez Palacio
Graphic Design, Referenced is a visual and informational guide to the most commonly referenced terms, historical moments, landmark projects, and influential practitioners in the field of graphic design.
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