HomeWritingResources for New Product Designers
Resources for New Product Designers
My personal list of 35 references for anyone who wants to learn more about product design.
This article lists websites, books, decks, articles, and blogs that may be useful to anyone who wants to learn more about product design.

Resources are categorized by topic; click to jump to each category: usability & user experience, branding, typography & grids, user research, front-end development, design philosophy, visual design, and design systems.

When I recommend a book I link to my local bookstore (The Strand) if possible. I encourage you to buy from local merchants but I have provided links to Amazon in case that's more accessible for you.

This list is curated with beginners in mind and all items are presented in no particular order.
Image 1: from UX Indonesia on Unsplash.
Usability & User Experience
1. Nielsen Norman Group
The Nielsen Norman Group is a notable UX research and consulting firm trusted by leading organizations world-wide to provide reliable guidance on user experience. They publish articles and videos on research-based UX best practices that are free to view.
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2. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
This book is a standard primer on UX principles, concepts, and vocabulary. The revised version has updated references and examples that are more applicable to contemporary design scenarios.
3. User Interface Engineering (UIE) Articles by Jared Spool
Jared is an expert in the UX field with 32 years of experience. His articles connect UX to business needs.
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4. Interface Design Checklists by Smashing Magazine
This PDF has 150+ questions to ask when designing almost anything, from accordions and drop downs to tables and maps. I also recommend Smashing Magazine articles and newsletters, but with discretion as some of their content is paid. But when it’s good, it’s good.
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5. Simon Pan Portfolio Case Studies
Pan provides clear examples of UX work completed for clients like Uber, Amazon, and Google.
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Image 2: from Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash.
6. Power of Branding Deck by Michael Walker
A deck that explains the value and purpose of branding. Originally from a presentation I gave to a non-profit organization.
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7. Brand New (Under Consideration) by Armin Vit
This blog reviews branding for companies of all shapes and sizes. The author keeps critique light and witty, and the comments section alone is worth your time. This was a free blog, but now has a paywall you can scale via a month-by-month ($2/month) or annual subscription ($20/year.) Free subscriptions are available to those who cannot pay.
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Image 3: from Amador Loureiro on Unsplash.
Typography & Grids
8. Typography & Grid Systems Deck by Michael Walker
A deck I created to present type and grid basics to design students. For further reading, I suggest researching box model dynamics in web design.
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9. Fonts in Use
Started in 2010 as a blog, this site captures examples of type at work in the real world. It features practical applications and a multitude of pairings that are sure to inspire your next typoographic work.
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10. The Font Review Journal, Developed by Bethany Heck
Thoughtful, formal reviews of new and old typefaces written with designers in mind. Also available as a newsletter.
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11. Better Web Type by Matej Latin
A free email course that covers the basics of setting and using type on the web. These digestible reads are great for beginners and pros alike.
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12. The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
A standard primer on typography. It is focused on setting type for print, but many principles can be applied to the web. I often find myself returning to advice such as the optimal line length for reading (66 characters) and know that you will, too.
13. Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton
This book is a guide for using type to communicate visually. It covers principles of typography in a concise way alongside ample examples that inform and inspire.
14. Grid Systems by Josef Muller-Brockmann
This book is a manual for using grids to design print layouts. It is full of painstakingly meticulous examples. As an added bonus, it is written in two languages and will give you ideas for multilingual layouts (or just help you practice your German.)
15. Bethany Heck Portfolio Site
This girl is on fire- but actually though! Heck has designed for companies such as Medium and Microsoft. Her work shows how to expertly apply type as a crucial part of user interfaces. She's also adept at explaining her typographic decisions. I'm constantly impressed by her degree of intentionality and always learn from what she has to say.
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Image 4: from UX Indonesia on Unsplash.
User Research Methods
16. 5 Ways to Do Rapid Research
5 methods for conducting meaningful user research frequently and 6 tips for doing rapid user research, written by yours truly.
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17. Universal Methods of Design by Bella Martin and Bruce Hanington
This book covers 125 methods for conducting design research and developing ideas. The methods are organized by steps of the design process. I like to thumb through this volume before starting a project to identify opportunities for research and embed them in my process.
Image 5: from Fotis Fotopoulos on Unsplash.
Design & Front-end Development
18. CodeCademy
Learn the basics of programming languages by taking self-guided courses that allow you to write and check real code in your browser. There is a free tier and a paid tier.
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19. Conditional Design Workbook (and Examples)
This site is full of analog examples that explain how visual design and development are linked via a concept called conditional design. 

The website is dated and the workbook itself is out of print. But fret not! They still hold and are compelling forays into what is possible when design and code meet.
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20. Studio Moniker
This design studio uses conditional design to explore the social effects of technology. Their work is experimental and ranges from cerebral to simply wacky- but it will always make you think. If their website feels overwhelming, this studio profile article provides additional context that may be helpful.
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21. A List Apart
This site explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices.
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Image 6: from Green Chameleon on Unsplash.
Philosophy of Design
22. The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero
This short online book explores what it means to practice design. The site it lives on is also full of lovely illustrations and facilitates a contemplative reading experience. Maria Popova writes: “From the very first line, Frank grabs you by the neurons and heartstrings, and doesn’t let go until the very last.”
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23. Real Life Magazine
A publication about how design and technology intersect with socio-political issues. Run independently but funded by Snap Inc.
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24. Why Do We Interface by Ehsan Noursalehi
A short look at why and how interfaces have evolved. The custom design of this publication and its endless gifs make it a delight.
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25. The Politics of Design by Ruben Pater
This pocket guide is a vibrant introduction to topics all designers should consider when designing for inclusivity and global audiences.
26. The Information by James Gleik
This book is an in-depth exploration of the origins of information, the evolution of communication over time, and the development of information theory. Gleik masterfully uses storytelling to explain history, important figures and their work, and the abstract concepts that underpin modern computing technology. His conclusion confirms the tact and thoughtfulness of his work; he draws a pithy summary that is eerily prescient for anyone reading today.
Image 7: from NordWood Themes on Unsplash.
Visual Design
27. Meggs' History of Graphic Design by Philip Meggs
The textbook on design through the ages written by a professor at my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University. Make sure to check the version when purchasing to make sure you are ordering the newest edition available.
28. Awwwards
This site catalogues trendy, zeitgeist-focused, and highly interactive websites on a daily basis. Are the featured sites always accessible? No. But are they a beautiful starting point for generating new ideas? Yes! (Also great if you want to test out the fans on your laptop.)
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29. Spotify Design Blog
This is the formal design blog for the Swedish audio company. Many of the posts focus on designers and the visual work they do to enhance the product. But you'll also find plenty of information about their working routines and Spotify Design's unique operating model. It is a recruiting tool, so don't read with abandon.
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Image 8: from Theme Photos on Unsplash.
Design Systems
30. Atomic Design by Brad Frost
This online book provides a framework for conceptualizing and creating design systems. Frost anchors his approach with plenty of real-world examples and expounds on implementation on his personal site and social media accounts. I particularly enjoy the collaborative designer-developer relationship that Frost advocates for in the book and in his own practice.
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31. Google Material Design
Google’s design system originally gained notoriety in part because of the way it visually positions elements in a conceptual dimensional space to explain visual design relationships. The site is also easy to navigate, comprehensive, and includes open source elements such as downloadable icons. It was so popular that at one point Google launched a section explaining how their existing design systems examples could be customized to match individual brands, not copied verbatim.
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32. Salesforce Lightning Design System
The design system for Salesforce, a customer relationship management platform that is also the parent company for the Slack app.
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33. Human Interface Guidelines
Apple's Design Sytem.
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34. Lonely Planet Design System
This is the design system for an expansive travel guide website and publishing company. It is notable for its early attempt to integrate interface design and code.
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35. Inclusive Components by Heydon Pickering
A blog that explains how to make design system components more inclusive. It's not updated regularly, but the examples are a great way to understand what it takes to build designs that everyone can truly use.
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Image 9: from Scott Webb on Unsplash.
In Conclusion
Share Your Favorite Tools
I hope these resources help you learn more about the field of design. If there’s a topic that you’re interested in that is not covered above, let me know and I’ll see if I can find a resource to help you. If you’ve found a useful design resource and would like to share it, feel free to send that my way, too.
Disclaimer: These links are not sponsored. They're simply resources I enjoy and think would be useful to others.