User interface design moves fast. Even if you're an experienced UI/UX designer, it can be overwhelming to keep up with design trends, the latest digital products, fancy design tools, and the multidisciplinary nature of product design & UX design.
The good news is that fundamental design principles and best practices for UI design and don't change much! Trends come and go, but a solid understanding of user interface design principles like visual hierarchy, typography, color theory, and web usability will benefit you and your career for decades.
We've written this guide to focus specifically on the best books for modern UI design. Book with practical advice for improving your UI design skills. If you're interested in learning more about UX design (UX research, usability testing, psychology etc.), check out our list of the best books to learn UX design in 2024.
Incremental improvement and lifelong learning
It's easy to compare your work to other designers and feel you're being left behind — we're our own worst critics. It's part of the role of being a UI designer! Even the most experienced designers experience imposter syndrome. I'm a big fan of Seth Godin's blog, and this one observation on why creatives are so prone to imposter syndrome has always stuck with me:
“The big reason is that we're all impostors... You're not imagining that you're an impostor, it's likely that you are one. Yes, you're an impostor. So am I and so is everyone else.” — Seth Godin, on Imposter Syndrome
Even the best user interface designers are just "hacking" it and trying different things until something works. What matters is that you show up every day and strive to be 1% better at your craft. I adopted this mentality of incremental improvement and lifelong learning after reading Atomic Habits, long before I even got into UI/UX design. Once you realize you're never really going to "master" your craft, but instead strive to learn and improve daily, things become much easier!
Practice your UI design skills
If you can turn studying great user-centered design and improving your UI design skills into a daily habit, the compounding effect over just a year will put you decades ahead of your peers. In a competitive industry, consistently pushing out great user interface design is the easiest way to stand out.
Oğuz Yagiz Kara comes to mind — he has quickly become one of the most well-known product designers in the world in a short period simply by pushing his design skills and consistently sharing world-class UI design on social media.
When it comes to getting clients and landing UI UX design roles, the reality is that it's much harder to demonstrate how good you are at design sprints, UX research, and user testing. UI design skills are very easy to showcase and get noticed.
UI design books
Believe it or not, it's never been easier to learn how to consistently create good web design and product design. There are so many incredible design resources, design books, design tools, case studies and comprehensive guides on every facet of UI design and web design.
You don't need to read every single UI design book on this list! Modern user-centered design, for the most part, relies on a handful of core design principles and design patterns that have been studied, tested, and honed over decades.
Even with all these incredible design books, you'd be surprised how few UI designers and web designers have a grasp of basic user interface design principles like visual hierarchy, typography, color theory, and web usability. The reality is that most designers don't read books and don't actively strive to improve their design skills systematically.
Here’s our list of the best books to learn modern UI design in 2024:
1. Refactoring UI by Adam Wathan & Steve Schoger
Refactoring UI remains our most recommended book for both beginner and experienced designers. This is a little ironic because it was originally written for developers in mind!
Written by a developer-designer duo, Adam Wathan and Steve Schoger from TailwindCSS, it's by far one of the most practical and valuable resources for anyone working on UI design or development. Have you ever looked at your UI or web design work and thought, “This doesn't look good, but I have no idea why”? I do this daily. Refactoring UI should solve 90% of these problems.
Refactoring UI packs in all the fundamental design principles behind good modern user interface design in a 218-page book. Because it includes many design examples, it’s a great book to complete in less than 4–5 hours and will become an invaluable resource for good design that you can refer back to.
I particularly appreciate its "no bullshit" approach to designing interfaces. It clearly explains why design decisions are made in UI design and the design thinking behind them. Whether you’re a beginner UI designer who wants to learn the fundamentals of good interaction design, a UX designer wanting to improve your UI design skills, or a developer or a product manager interested in understanding more about user-centric design, this book is a comprehensive guide.
Refactoring UI is available for purchase in two different versions; The Essentials edition is $99 and includes the PDF and three video lessons, while The Complete Package is $178 and comes with additional extras such as a design patterns/component inspiration gallery, comprehensive color palettes, and more.