16 Must-Read Articles for the UX Newbie

| December 10, 2013
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This article was updated on 9/11/14.

Interested in learning more about user experience, but don’t know where to start? These quick-and-dirty resources will give you the rundown on UX, UI, and Usability in a little over an hour.

1. User Experience: What Is It and Why Should I Care?
By Amy Harvey on Usability Geek (5 minute read)
If you’ve never heard of UX before, or you think it doesn’t apply to you, read this guide now. (We’ll wait.)

2. The First Rule of UX 
By Joshua Brewer on 52 Weeks of UX (1 minute read)
Now that you know what UX is, what should you do? This article will help you get started. If you read all 52 weeks, you’re well on your way to becoming a UX pro.

3. Thirteen Tenets of User Experience
By Robert Hoekman, Jr. on Smashing Magazine (4 minute read)
A UX professional offers the most important mantras he has accumulated over the course of his career: one tenet for each year of experience.

4. 10 Usability Lessons from Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think
By Redd Horrocks on UX Booth (3 minute read)
Don’t Make Me Think is widely regarded as one of the most important books on web usability. This article pulls ten of Krug’s most important teachings and delivers them in bite-sized pieces.

5. 15 Tiny UX Elements that Can Make a Big Difference
By Graham Charlton on Econsultancy (4 minute read)
This list gives visual examples of some handy UX features that are making users’ lives better.

6. Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design
By Jakob Nielsen on Nielsen Norman Group (10 minute read)
Usability guru Jakob Nielsen details the frustrating things web designers do that send users running away screaming.

7. The Five Worst UX Mistakes Websites Make
By Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D., on UX Magazine (6 minute read)
While we’re on the topic of what not to do, this article shows web designers how to avoid pitfalls through the advice of a behavioral psychologist. You can also check out UserTesting’s on-demand webinar with Dr. Weinschenk here.

8. 10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design
By Whitney Hess on Mashable (10 minute read)
Now that you have an idea of what UX is, here is one designer’s explanation of what it is not. Hint: there’s more to it than the color of the “Sign In” button.

9. Why UX Is Not 100% UI
By Catalin Zorzini on Inspired Mag (3 minute read)
In the same vein as the previous article, this one provides a more in-depth look at how UX is more expansive than interface alone.

10. 3 Isn’t the Magic Number
By Fiz Yazdi on cxpartners (2 minute read)
A UX Director tackles the myth that users need to be able to access all of the content on a site with three clicks or fewer.

11. The Usability of Your Website Starts with Its Content
By Patrick Frehtenbaum on Usability Geek (5 minute read)
We all know that awesome graphics and SEO are important, but this article reminds us that even the most attractive website is still only as good as its content.

12. The Importance of Designing for Readability
By Carrie Cousins on Design Shack (8 minute read)
Users can quickly get frustrated with text that’s hard to read. Here is a crash course on maximizing text for readability (no prior knowledge of graphic design required).

    13. Using Dark Patterns for Good
    By Marli Mesibov on UX Booth (8 minute read)
    Here, a content strategist explores the more nefarious side of web design, including the negative website elements that benefit the company at the expense of the user — as well as some creative ways that these principles can be applied to help users instead.

    14. Why User Experience is Critical to Customer Relationships
    By Brian Solis on Fast Company (6 minute read)
    This article emphasizes how vital UX is for brands that want to stay relevant in an increasingly customer-centric world.

    15. Methods to Achieve User Delight
    By Catriona Cornett on InspireUX (3 minute read)
    Designers often talk about delighting the user. But what exactly does that mean, and how do we do it? This article gives 19 pointers for creating delightful experiences.

    16. The Most Fundamental Concept in Usability
    By Jeff Sauro on Measuring Usability (4 minute read)
    This core concept explains why usability testing is so important, and why it’s necessary to include users from your target market in your usability testing.

    Bonus: just for fun, this comic illustrates an unfortunate UX situation that many of us have experienced.

    There are a lot of great UX resources out there aside from the ones we’ve mentioned. If you have a favorite article, please add it in the comments!

    If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out The 18 Blogs Every UX Pro Should Follow, too!