Required Reading for Interactive Designers

College Books


The storied School of Visual Arts, in New York, just published a list of required reading for the incoming class of students in its MFA interaction-design program. Here’s a chance to get SVA MFA education for $58,000 off (not including expenses)! Or, at the very least, a look at the books you should have read (but probably haven’t).

But this list is more than a musty compilation handed down through the ages. As SVA explains:

Upon the request of readers, we asked faculty to recommend books for an interaction design reading list. These could be landmark texts, underdogs, or critical reads, or stepping stones to other fields. The following is what resulted from our request, comprising in part: a sneak preview of what will be assigned in courses; what some consider to be cornerstone interaction design texts; and what some consider important connections to other fields.


Here it is:

The Fundamentals

* About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design, Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin
* The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman
* Designing Interactions, Bill Moggridge
* Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices, Dan Saffer
* Designing for People, Henry Dreyfuss

Information Design

* Envisioning Information, Edward R. Tufte
* Graph Design for the Eye and Mind, Stephen Kosslyn
* Powers of Ten, Philip Morrison, Phylis Morrison and the office of Charles and Ray Eames
* The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Edward Tufte
* While You’re Reading, Gerard Unger

Networks and Data

* How to Lie With Statistics, Darrell Huff, Irving Geis
* Global Networks, Robert Hobbs, Mark Lombardi, Judith Richards

Physical Computing and Electronics

* Getting Started with Arduino (Make: Projects), Massimo Banzi
* Getting Started in Electronics, Forrest M. Mims III
* Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers, Tom Igoe, Dan O’Sullivan

Storytelling and Visual Narratives

* Comics and Sequential Art, Will Eisner
* Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design, Bill Buxton
* Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, Scott McCloud

Usability and Web Design

* Building Accessible Websites, Joe Clark
* Don’t Make Me Think!, Steve Krug
* The Trouble with Computers: Usefulness, Usability, and Productivity, Thomas Landauer

See Also

While it may be cheating, the categories of sustainability, philosophy, architecture, writing, and others have lists of texts too vast to include here. Below are just a couple outlined by the faculty.

* The Architecture of Happiness, Alain De Botton
* Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, William McDonough and Michael Braungart

[Via Kottke; image via Wohnai]

About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.


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