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20 Books Every Modern UI Designer Should Read (2024)

Looking to level up your UI design skills in 2024? There's never been a better time to learn — here's our list of the best books to improve your UI design skills.
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In this article

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:

Refactoring UI by Adam Wathan & Steve Schoger

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.

Practical UI by Adham Dannaway

2. Practical UI by Adham Dannaway

Written by product designer and web developer Adham Dannaway, Practical UI is written as a "logic-driven approach to design intuitive, accessible, and beautiful interfaces using quick and practical guidelines."

We particularly like Practical UI because it was written recently and focuses on modern best practices for UI design and web design. It emphasizes the practical and logical side of UI design, with clear and concise examples of logical rules for creating effective and usable user interfaces design. You can see a lot of parallels with Refactoring UI in this sense.

In Adham's own words:

"Luckily, UI design doesn’t have to be so hard. Over the years, I’ve realised that most of my visual and interaction design decisions are governed by a system of logical rules. Not artistic flair or magical intuition, just simple rules."

Although primarily written for beginners, Practical UI is a great book for anyone working in user-centric design — UI design, UX design, user research, even web development — who wants to improve their user experience design and UI design skills.

Practical UI offer a 28-page free preview, and you can buy the entire 282-page book for $99. Adham is also active on X (Twitter) where he shares UI design tutorials and tips.

Better Web Typography for a Better Web by Matej Latin

3. Better Web Typography for a Better Web by Matej Latin

Better Web Typography for a Better Web by Matej Latin is a thorough and practical book dedicated to improving your web design typography.

Good typography is the most undervalued and underappreciated elements in modern UI and product design and is one of the fastest ways to improve your user interface design and introduce visual hierarchy. Bad typography sticks out, even to non-design oriented folk. Bad typography is easy to spot in UI design, reflects badly on the brand and leads to a poor user experience.

Better Web Typography for a Better Web is based on Matej's popular online web typography course, Better Web Type, and includes 235 pages covering the fundamental design principles of typography for web design, including:

  • How to choose typefaces for your projects
  • Combining typefaces
  • How to combine typefaces like a proper type geek
  • Typographically perfect paragraph
  • How to set a perfect paragraph
  • Modular scale
  • Why and how to use a modular scale
  • Vertical rhythm
  • How to set up vertical rhythm for your website
  • Page composition
  • How to compose layouts and use responsive web typography

If you're looking to improve your UI design and web design skills, mastering good typography is one of the highest-leverage design skills you can focus on. There aren't many better places to start than this book — it's an incredibly comprehensive guide, and even comes with design files.

You can pick up the digital version of Better Web Typography for a Better Web for $49.95 or a hardcopy for $79.95. Both of these come with digital extras, example exercises, the source code, and the Sketch/Figma files.

The Visual History of Type by Paul McNeil

4. The Visual History of Type by Paul McNeil

The Visual History of Type by Paul McNeil was originally published in 2017 and traces the evolution of typeface design over the last 200 years. It's a fascinating read, but also a great primer on typography and how typefaces and fonts are designed and used in modern design.

"This is my favorite type book that I own—yes, even more so than Bringhurst. It’s not about typography; it’s about typefaces. But it is a monumental work that showcases the evolution of type from the days of Gutenberg to modern times, and reading it will expose you to the entire history of typography and give you a new perspective on graphic design." —Jeremiah Shoaf, founder of Typewolf
UI Design Systems Mastery by Marina Budarina

5. UI Design Systems Mastery by Marina Budarina

UI Design Systems Mastery is a UI design and design systems ebook written by Marina Budarina. Marina is well-known in the design community and on Instagram where she shares useful UI design tips and resources.

UI Design Systems Mastery is written for both beginner and experienced designers looking to master the fundamentals of UI design. It has a particularly strong focus on design systems and includes step-by-step guides on how to build design systems from scratch.

Even though UI Design Systems Mastery is a relatively new ebook on UI design (launched at the very end of 2022), Marina has recently updated this book with useful guides on the latest Figma features released at Config 2023, including variables! It's great to see books on UI design keep up with changes.

This book is divided into seven parts that cover everything from interface design fundamentals and best practices, all the way to setting up design systems in Figma and writing effective documentation:

  • Part 1 - Design system basics
  • Part 2 - Preparation and steps overview
  • Part 3 - Design foundations and best practices
  • Part 4 - Components, patterns, templates
  • Part 5 - Documentation
  • Part 6 - Implementation
  • Part 7 - Variables

You can access this 300+ page ebook for $64.90 or share with your entire design team for $284.90.

The Design Manual by Adrian Kuleszo

6. The Design Manual by Adrian Kuleszo

The Design Manual by Adrian Kuleszo is one of the largest ebooks on our list at more than 770 pages long! It's also the only ebook on our list that focuses specifically on how to design beautiful mobile apps for iOS and Android.

You may have seen Adrian's design tutorials and helpful tips on social media. He also runs a popular YouTube channel, UI Adrian, where he teaches designers how to get started designing in Figma.

The Design Manual is an excellent read for UI designers who want to learn Figma best practices and design skills specifically modern app UI design. The book consists of 5 parts and 58 chapters that cover everything from UI design best practices and design fundamentals, iOS Design Principles and Apple's Human Interface Guidelines, Android Design Principles, and the entire design process on how to design a Fintech-focused mobile app from scratch (including Figma design files).

You can download a 64-page free preview of the The Design Manual or access the entire 770+ page book for $89.

The Ultimate Guide to Web Design by Adrian Kuleszo

7. The Ultimate Guide to Web Design by Adrian Kuleszo

The Ultimate Guide to Web Design by Adrian Kuleszo was launched in November 2022, making it one of the newest releases on this list.

The Ultimate Guide to Web Design focuses heavily on the web design process for web design freelancers. It covers all the foundations of great web and UI design, including design principles, typography, and color theory, but also dives deeply into UX research and how to design effective and responsive websites, how modern web design technologies work, and how to become a successful web design freelancers.

The ebook is divided into 6 main sections:

  1. The Freelance Guide
  2. The Design Basics
  3. Designing for the Web
  4. The Web Design Process,
  5. Intro to No-code Tools
  6. Project Wrap-up

While this design book focuses specifically on web design and working as a freelance web designer, it's an incredible resource for anyone interested in improving their web design or UI design knowledge. There is a lot of overlap between the two.

You can download a 40-page free preview of The Ultimate Guide to Web Design or access the entire 340+ page book for $49.

Master UI Design Elements by Denislav Jeliazkov

8. Master UI Design Elements by Denislav Jeliazkov

Master UI Design Elements by Denislav Jeliazkov is a concise 200-page book on the fundamentals of UI design. It's perfect for beginners and includes practical advice and tips for anyone learning interested in improving their UI design skills.

At only $19, it's incredibly great value and focused on straight-to-the-point actionable tips you can apply in your everyday design process.

Landing Page Hot Tips by Rob Hope

9. Landing Page Hot Tips by Rob Hope

Landing Page Hot Tips by Rob Hope is an insanely good investment for strengthening your web design skills. Rob runs a popular web design curation site and newsletter called One Page Love, and knows a thing or two about what makes a good landing page. He has a huge collection of case studies to learn from.

In 2021, he released Landing Page Hot Tips with 100 actionable lessons and 200+ landing page resources for creating perfect landing pages. It contains multiple visual references and external resources and has a fully interactive launch checklist.

Understanding how to design UI and web design that converts customers is one of the highest-leverage skills you can learn. This book is a must-read, especially if you're planning on working on your products or as a freelance web designer.

You can purchase the 189-page book for $39 and you can pick up the Kindle version on Amazon for only $9.99.

Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell

10. Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell

Universal Principles of Design was first published in 2003 by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler, making it one of the oldest books on this list. This is essentially a book on what makes good design in everyday things — the crossway between design, behaviour and psychology.

This book was the first cross-disciplinary reference of good design and design patterns and has become an invaluable reference for not only UI designers and web designers but also product managers, developers, engineers, and architects.

You've probably heard of the “80/20 Rule”, “Ockham’s Razor”, “Self-Similarity” and “Storytelling” in design. This book explains 125+ key design principles and concepts with visual examples applied in practice.

While you won't find any design sprints, Figma best practices, or modern web design tips in Universal Principles of Design, you will find the fundamentals of design thinking and user-centric design that shape how we interact with digital user interface design today. It’s a comprehensive guide on design, human psychology, and cognitive conceptions that will reshape how you think about UI design.

UI Design Principles by Michael Filipiuk

11. UI Design Principles by Michael Filipiuk

UI Design Principles by Michael Filipiuk is a 500-page ebook that covers every aspect of modern UI design and fundamental UI design principles such as typography, color, and layout.

UI Design Principles is perfect for UX and UI designers who want to improve their UI design skills and create beautiful, usable interfaces, but also helpful for developers who want to improve their design skills. This book also focuses on design processes and tips for freelancers who want to charge more for their work.

You can download UI Design Principles as an ebook for $39.

Design Systems by Alla Kholmatova

12. Design Systems by Alla Kholmatova

Design Systems by Alla Kholmatova is an in-depth primer on modern design systems and how they can be used effectively to empower teams to create great digital products.

Modern web and product design continues to become more complex every year. Design Systems is all about treating your creative process methodically and assuring that you and your team will get all of the advantages of using a design system.

Learning how to integrate modular thinking and design systems into real-life design projects is an essential skill in modern UI design. It becomes even more useful once you start working in larger teams and on more complex digital products and websites.

Alla shares key qualities of well-functioning, enduring design systems and how they can be achieved. This book includes practical examples and case studies from AirBnB, Atlassian, Eurostar, TED, and Sipgate, plus 18 months of research and interviews, to highlight what works and what doesn’t work in real-life digital products.

You can download a free PDF sample or purchase the ebook for $19.

Laying the Foundations by Andrew Couldwell

13. Laying the Foundations by Andrew Couldwell

Laying the Foundations by Andrew Couldwell is a comprehensive guide to creating, documenting, and maintaining design systems. Originally published in 2019, Andrew covers practical guides on the entire design process and how to design websites and products systematically.

Laying the Foundations is essentially a handbook on design systems. It's a great book that is easy to read and follow and offers great advice and practical tips for UI designers and design teams on creating design systems and digital brand guidelines. It's a great read that shows how design systems bring order and consistency to digital products.

You can pick up the ebook version of Laying the Foundations for $20 or the paperback from $23.

UI is Communication by Everett N McKay

14. UI is Communication by Everett N McKay

UI is Communication by Everett N McKay is a fantastic 378-page book originally published in 2013. The book aims to help designers gain practical knowledge through case studies that will teach them how to tackle design issues they frequently encounter. 

UI is Communication will help you understand the meaning of UI design and the profound and inevitable connection between target audiences and product design. It's a good book because it contains many examples and case studies that can help you comprehend UI design principles through practical advice, unlike many that primarily focus on the theoretical aspect of the user interface.

100 UI/UX Tips & Tricks by Victor Ponamariov

15. 100 UI/UX Tips & Tricks by Victor Ponamariov

100 UI/UX Tips & Tricks by Victor Ponamariov is a compilation of the top 100 UI/UX design tips that Victor has shared over the years.

Victor is well-known for sharing useful and practical design tips on X (Twitter) and has wrapped up his knowledge into a 108-page book. 100 UI/UX Tips & Tricks is short and to the point, with illustrative examples that act as mini case studies, as well as more than 60 additional external sources.

It’s a useful and entertaining read for beginner designers, as well as experienced designers and web developers. Most tips and tricks are illustrated, and each tip is only one page long, so it won’t take you too long to read it. You can pick it up for $12.

Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Müller-Brockmann

16. Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Müller-Brockmann

Written by worldwide known Swiss graphic designer Josef Müller-Brockmann (1914-1996), Grid Systems in Graphic Design was initially published in 1981 and republished in 1996, making it the oldest book on our list by a huge margin, but also one of the most important ones. 

Müller-Brockmann was the first graphic designer and researcher to introduce the grid system, so this book was quite revolutionary for its time. Anyone who’s into graphic, visual, user interface, and user experience design would benefit from reading it. 

Grid Systems in Graphic Design contains rules and guidelines to help readers learn how to use — you guessed it — numerous grid systems (8-32 grid fields) for various design projects. Additionally, it contains an in-depth explanation of what a 3D grid is. 

It's a great book because it also includes multiple examples, case studies, and methods that can help the reader understand how to develop their design thinking and design process. You’ll learn how to create designs by following straightforward design rules instead of just relying on intuition — it can take you only so far.

Grid Systems in Graphic Design is one of those great books that has stood the test of time, along with books like Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things, Jeff Johnson's Designing with the Mind in Mind, and Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think.

Atomic Design by Brad Frost

17. Atomic Design by Brad Frost

Atomic Design by Brad Frost was published in 2016 and quickly became the foundation for modern design systems in UI design.

It covers everything that goes into creating and maintaining robust design systems for better and more consistent UI design, and first introduced and coined the "Atomic Design" methodology for thinking of how we design user interfaces.

The advice and design processes introduced in this book are still applicable and have had a huge impact on our design process, design patterns, and even how we're designing interfaces and working with components inside Figma today.

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

18. Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

Published in 2010, Thinking with Type second edition is a great book by the Baltimore-based designer, writer, and curator Ellen Lupton. Thinking with Type is a comprehensive guide that will help you understand how to use typography (words, paragraphs, and letters) in visual design and communication. It's just as applicable today for modern UI design.

It’s one of the best books on typography for both UI designers who want to understand visual hierarchy, how to space, align, order, and shape typography in user interface design and web design, as well as learn more about various type families and typefaces. The latest updated edition contains about 48 pages, where Lupton explains more about mixing different typefaces, font licensing, font formats, style sheets, and more.

About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design

19. About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design

Published in 2014, the fourth edition of About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design is written by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, and Christopher Noessel, and has played a significant role in the process of making interaction design more mainstream.

About Face helped designers realize that interactivity is an essential aspect of development and product design. These are some of the topics covered in About Face: 

  • Methods for creating modern interactive user interface design 
  • Methods for creating mobile applications and electronic goods 
  • Suggestions on how to create a state-of-the-art user interface and the most recent examples
  • Methodology for creating Goal-Directed UI Design

While many of the best practices, design processes and design concepts in About Face may be a little out of date today, it still stands as a useful primer for web/interface design and how we interact with screens.

The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams

20. The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams

The Non-Designer’s Design Book is a timeless design book written by graphic designer and design educator, Robin Williams (she likes to point out that she’s “not the actor,” so don’t get her confused with Mrs. Doubtfire).

Published in 2014, it remains one of the most iconic UI UX books to this day and offers excellent tips on typography, visual design, and how to create visual hierarchy. The Non-Designer’s Design Book has taught hundreds of thousands of people how to make their designs look professional using four surprisingly simple design principles.

It's a useful resource for modern UI design and includes great advice on how to design with color, typography, and how to combine typefaces.

Classic design books

What about the classics?

While classic design books like Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think are important for developing a holistic understanding of both UX and UI design, you won't find them on this list. We've written this guide to focus specifically on books that are focused on learning modern UI design. Practical books that help you to improve your product design and web design visual design skills.

There are hundreds of UI design and UX design books on the market today, and it can feel overwhelming. However, most "best practices" UX/UI design books, including the classics, don't focus enough on how to actually create great UI design and design digital products. They cover high-level UX design principles, design processes, colour theory, and user research, but fall short on practical tips and real product examples.

If you're interested in learning more about UX design, check out our list of the best books to learn UX design in 2024. This will be more applicable for UX designers and will include more UI UX design books on design thinking, UX research, usability testing, psychology and more. Expect to find all the classic books like Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things, Jeff Johnson's Designing with the Mind in Mind, and Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think!

Find any other useful UI design books? 

There are hundreds of UI design books being released every year. We've picked out the best of the best and regularly update this post.

If you come across any other useful books for UI design that should included on this list, let us know! We'd love to check it out.

Learning Figma?

We hope you find this list of some of the best UI design books helpful. Regardless if you're new to UI UX design or a professional product designer, there's always room to learn and improve your design process and design skills.

If you're learning UI design and Figma, we've also recently updated our lists of the best Figma courses for 2024. Learning on a budget? We also have a post on the best Figma courses that are 100% free. Check them out!

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