I get a fair amount of requests from budding UX designers for best or favorite UX books. I dont like to overload them, so basically i do a walk through of a blueprint / spec’d wireframe set via Skype, hangouts or in-person, then the following reading list as a solid, easy to digest introduction.
The #1 read is: The Elements of User Experience. Jesse James Garret leads the Adaptive Path team here in SF, and he’s the man. This book talks about the structure of sites from the bottom up, then priority, structure and strategy. Its the Bible.
#2-3 include Designing the Obvious. This was my fav book from 2008/9 followed by Designing the Moment. The original versions were mainly web focused as opposed to mobile, but the approaches he suggests to trim down the design (get rid of the nice to have features, and how to talk the team into doing it and why, at least initially) was a game changer for me. I think the 2nd edition incorporates mobile. Also check out his articles on that page. Good stuff.
#4 Don’t Make Me Think. I cant say enough good about this book. Its the first time i realized through a great visual statement the author make about street signs in Los Angeles. You can read the next cross street name a mile away the signs are so clear (Sepulveda or Venice). And you always know right where you are as it should be on a website, “I’m on the corner of hardware and chainsaws”. About x Careers. Something like that… There was no ambiguity, and due to this book, i am a diligent proponent of very clear “street signs” on the web.
#5-8 include: Mobile First, Responsive Web Design, Content Strategy for Mobile and Design is a Job (my fav of the abookapart lot which talks about how to be an effective consultant, which we ALL are at ALL times be it FTE or contractor).