Recommended readings in HCI

Finally, I have put together the long promised list of must-read HCI books. These are some of the books I have found very useful and worth keeping handy. I tried to keep the list short, but comprehensive, covering many areas.

The list is geared towards someone who is trying to learn HCI on their own.

I will be adding a list of articles to this soon. But this should be a good start.



  • Jakob Nielsen Usability engineering. San Diego: Academic Press.

    (A good methods book. Nielsen’s only book that I keep in my shelf)

  • Don Norman The design of everyday things. New York: Basic Books.
    (Helps understand how design is important in everyday life. Makes you see the world around you in a different – more design-centric way)
  • Edward R. Tufte The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Graphics Press, 1992)
    (Very inspirational. Shows what good information design can accomplish.)
  • Alan Cooper, Alan Cooper: The inmates are running the asylum

    (Helps understand the importance of and challenges with doing good design in the corporate environment)

  • Peter Morville & Lou Rosenfeld Information Architecture for the world wide web
    (A really good book if you are going to be designing for the web, and will need to do any content wrangling)
  • Jeff Johnson GUI Bloopers
    (Not the easiest read, but a handy reference for design principles along with examples).
  • A basic cognitive psychology textbook: Pick up a recent textbook that is easily available. Must be published no earlier than 2000 (important to have recent perspective). (Some possibilities: Robert Solso , Sternberg
  • A basic social psychology textbook: Get an easily available textbook that has been published no later than 1996. (Some possibilities are: Myers)
  • Simple statistics with Excel: (Howell is a good stats textbook, but it might make more sense to buy a “Teach yourself stats with Excel” type book if you will be doing this on your own. I need to do some research to make a specific recommendation).
  • A basic research methods book: It is important to read at least one research methods book. Helps understand interviewing, study design, surveys, observation etc. My preference is a academic research methods book. I am still to find one book which covers a whole bunch of topics.

Some other beginner resources

At the Story, Metaphor, Vision conference

The brain is giving up its secrets and people from the arts and humanities are listening! I have been attending a few talks at the Story, Metaphor and Vision, organized by the Humanities Department at Stanford University. The conceit of the conference is that its time to make connections between literature, culture, art and what we understand about cognition and the brain. Some of the topics would be of special interest to information architects:
-Metaphor in semantic theory and innovation
-How metaphor works in the brain

There is also a lot of reference to the “digitization of culture”, interest and more than a little angst at the creeping influence of technology in everyday life. The most interesting talk I heard was by Mark Turner about conceptual blending, a topic that could of relevance to designers (in a manner similar to metaphors).