Issue 32 // Appy Holidays

Last month, we published The UX Reader, an an ebook featuring some of our most popular articles from this newsletter. Our primary objective was to learn more about the intersection of email and ecommerce, while using our own tools to sell a product. All proceeds are going to RailsBridge, an organization dedicated to increasing diversity in the tech industry. So far we've sold over a thousand copies (and raised over $5,000 for RailsBridge!), and we'll only be selling it until December 31st. Get yours while you can!

Read our ebook backstory on the MailChimp Blog

In keeping with the book theme, this issue presents a list of 15 UX-related books that have impacted the work of some of our subscribers this year. We offer them as suggestions for holiday reading (or last-minute gift-giving). As always, we wrap up with a list of links that've recently captured our attention.

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Editors: Jason BeairdGregg Bernstein, and Laurissa Wolfram-Hvass 
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On Twitter: @MailChimpUX

Your Favorite UX Books of 2014

It's hard to believe, but 2015 is fast approaching. At this point in December, we're always looking back on what we've learned and making resolutions for the months ahead. Last year, we put together a holiday reading list with a few influential reads, hand-picked by members of the MailChimp UX team. This year, we've turned to you! We sent an email to a small segment of our most engaged subscribers with a simple question, "What UX book influenced your work in 2014?"

Here are some of your suggestions:


Greg McKoeown

Suggested by Jeff Vincent: â€œIf you’ve ever rushed around, heading from one meeting / project / soccer game to another, you know the feeling. You start to feel brain dead, like you can’t come up with new thoughts. As McKeown will show you, being overwhelmed by tasks to complete, and without time to think, this outcome is inevitable. This is a book that changed my life because it 1.) focuses on a simple, pervasive problem, and 2.) tells a great story.”

Essentialism on Amazon

How to Make Sense of Any Mess

Abby Covert

Suggested by Bryce Propheter: â€œThis little book is good for so many reasons. It lays out a clear and concise method for making sense of messes. And in UX, there are lots of messes that need to be made sense of. My favorite line was on change: 'If you spend all your time thinking about how far the finish line is and fearing you'll never getting there, you’ll make slower progress or never make it at all.' â€

How To Make Sense of Any Mess on Amazon

User Story Mapping

Jeff Patton

Suggested by Kristin Lasita: â€œKicking off a project has always been a difficult endeavor for me in a consultant designer role. Jeff Paton takes a wide variety of examples and shows how best to work with a client to build a variable product. It’s a must-read for anyone starting off a large application or working on an existing one that’s stalled out.”

User Story Mapping on Amazon

Thinking Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman

Suggested by Stuart Wiener: â€œKahneman's thesis is that human behaviour is largely irrational, and he presents a framework that is foundational to understanding persuasion, choice architecture, and human behavior, which are all foundational to our work. I have found it very helpful to understand the people that we design for, as well as my own motivations, expectations and behavior as a UX practitioner. ”

Thinking Fast and Slow on Amazon

Just Enough Research

Erika Hall

Suggested by Jessica Ivins: â€œAlthough I’m a seasoned researcher, I discovered multiple nuggets of wisdom in Erika Hall’s Just Enough Research. It thoroughly explains the user research process. It’s packed with everything newbies need to start researching their audience. When people ask me how to conduct user research, I point them to this book.”

Also suggested by Libby Heasman: â€œThis book really validated all the things I felt about the type of research we were doing in our projects. It helps to find a more efficient and therefore cost effective way of researching, which makes clients happy. And [Hall] is the only other person who feels the same way about focus groups as I do!”

Just Enough Research on Amazon

Outside In

Harely Manning and Kerry Bodine

Suggested by Nir Rachmel: â€œOutside In gives broad and deep insight into the key elements that are common for companies that are truly consumer-focused (and doing a great job at it).. . . . I particularly loved the concept of using a customer journey map as a way to understand what customers think, feel, and do across all touch-points they have with a company: pre-sale, post-sale and even after they have finished conducting business with them.”

Outside In on Amazon

Designing Visual Interfaces

Kevin Mullet and Darrell Sano

Suggested by Tiago Machado: â€œThe principles of visual perception and organisation are timeless. Almost 20 years have passed since its first edition (1995), and almost every single aspect of this book remains updated. User experience (at a visceral level) is, foremost, based on the visual appearance of the interface. And as Jef Raskin stated, 'As far as the customer is concerned, the interface is the product.'”

Designing Visual Interfaces on Amazon

Nicely Said

Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee

Suggested by Rick Travis: â€œSaying things to users the right way is one of the most important parts of UX and this book helps writers find their voice and communicate with their audience effectively. I think it's a good read for anyone who works in the digital space.” 

Nicely Said on Amazon

Editor's note: We're proud to say that co-author Kate Kiefer Lee is MailChimp's Content Manager!


A Pattern Language

Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein

Suggested by Geoffrey Keating: â€œThough written in 1977 and concerning architecture and town planning, this book can teach us so much in 2014 about how to identify common problems and identify standard solutions. By not having to spend too much time on what's common, it's helped me focus on what's unique to a problem.”

A Pattern Language on Amazon

The Lean Brand

Jeremiah Gardner

Suggested by Alexa Roman: â€œMeaningless visual design has long been a challenge for me. Jeremiah's reframing of a brand as the relationship your organization builds with an audience is a much more powerful idea than making color and logo changes. Instead of making hollow brand artifacts, I'm running experiments to build and improve those customer relationships and experiences.”

The Lean Brand on Amazon

The Shape of Design

Frank Chimero

Suggested by Yoann Grange: â€œSimple, easy to read and affordable. Honest from the outside, good from the inside. Makes you travel through the process of design and suddenly you realize that you've been traveling your whole life, flying the design plane.”

Read The Shape of Design Online


Change by Design

Tim Brown

Suggested by Zach Kuzmic: â€œChange by Design introduces the idea of 'design thinking' and taking a user-centered approach to designing products while considering both technical feasibility and business viability. I work for a digital agency, and this book has provided valuable insight in regard to the discovery process we employ. 10/10, would read again.”

Change by Design on Amazon

The Artist’s Way

Julia Camron

Suggested by Alex Kluge: â€œThe Artist’s Way made it clear to me that in order to be a UX professional it’s important to know where your creative self is located and what parts of it may not have seen the light of the world yet because it was hidden deep in your own self. UX people live from being creative because it’s what our clients and client's end users pay for: creative problem solving. Moreover, the book helps you find your art, express it and be an artist, because eventually the UX solutions you provide are so virtuous that calling yourself a UX Artist is actually very likely.”

The Artist’s Way on Amazon

User Experience Management

Arnie Lund

Suggested by Chaunce Dolan: â€œAs I have been building the UX team where I work, I felt like I was making mistakes left and right and couldn’t seem to figure out how to get the team to function and the organization to respect UX. There have been many topics in the book I have found valuable and am beginning to implement. I have yet to fully finish the book, but it has been a tremendous asset so far.”

User Experience Management on Amazon

The User Experience Team of One

Leah Buley

Suggested by Chaunce Dolan: â€œBeing a team of one myself, I felt this spoke directly to me. I also found many well-documented UX exercises and when to use them.”

The User Experience Team of One on Amazon

UX Around The Web

Ask Us Anything

We want this newsletter to be a dialogue. If you have a question for the MailChimp UX team about which conferences we're looking forward to in 2015, our highest score at Crossy Road, or even our newest team member's mad circus skills, send them in. Seriously: hit reply and ask us anything. We'll try to answer every email and maybe even share our conversation in future newsletters.

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