5 non-designer books product designers should read — Edition No. 4
Design bubbles can get us stuck, limiting our knowledge outside the design field. As the importance of good design grows, so does the need for designers who understand how to bridge design and business.
These 5 non-design books can help you collaborate more effectively with other product members in your team.
“Escaping the build trap” by Melissa Perri
Businesses can easily get caught up in the build trap when they focus on outputs instead of outcomes. It’s when organizations measure success based on features shipped instead of value delivered.
Although this book is aimed primarily at product managers, it’s a great read for designers, engineers, marketers, and anyone else in a product team.
You’ll find concrete advice on how to get great outcome-driven results. You’ll learn how to build products that are worth your customers’ money. It’ll help you and your team focus on the “why”.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned in product management is to always focus on the problem. If you anchor yourself with the why, you will be more likely to build the right thing.” ― Melissa Perri
As designers, we’re part of product teams, so we absolutely can (and should) influence businesses we work for.
Simple terminology, no tech jargon, and concrete examples.
“What customers want” by Anthony W. Ulwick
A great follow-up to “Escaping the build trap”, with the same goal in mind: being outcome-driven. Though not as actionable as the previous book, it gives you an interesting perspective on why customers buy. You’ll learn how to identify, quantify, and meet customer needs.
“Probably the most difficult challenge in getting customer inputs is determining in advance which of the three types of customer data (jobs, outcomes, or constraints) to try to capture in a given situation. Several common situations arise.” ― Anthony W. Ulwick
Worth a read if you’re interested in “Jobs To Be Done” framework. There’s a saying that Agile helps you develop your product faster, but JTBD helps you develop the right product.
I loved this article that combined the two.
“The lean product playbook” by Dan Olsen
Prior to moving forward with possible solutions, this book helps you focus on the problem at hand. Doing so, you’ll be able to reap all its benefits.
Furthermore, it highlights how important it is to test with real customers as soon as you possibly can. Prototypes that click will do.
“When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can oftentimes arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there.” ― Dan Olsen
Last but not least, it emphasizes how important it is to have clear metrics and concentrate on those that have the best ROI.
If you’re trying to achieve product market fit, read this.
“Inspired” by Marty Cagan
Marty Cagan’s classic is a must-read. Everything you need to know about product development, including engineering, design, product management, marketing, and more. This book covers a lot, and does it well.
“Inspired” clarifies everyone’s roles in the product and gives a philosophical perspective on how they can work together. It gives you a framework that’s easy to follow.
“We need teams of missionaries, not teams of mercenaries.” — Marty Cagan
By the time you’re done with the book, you should have a clear picture of how to build products your customers will love. Included are techniques for getting there.
The author, Marty Cagan, is a product executive with over 20 years of experience working with industry leaders (eBay, AOL, Netscape, Hewlett-Packard and others).
“Traction” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
A must-read for designers working at startups.
It’s the holy grail of growth and traction, especially in the early stages. A great read that’s easy to follow with concrete advice that can be applied to almost any startup.
The book covers a growth channel testing framework called Bullseye, which helps you figure out which channels work best for your product. There are 19 growth channels covered, and each one has some practical info given as well.
“Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have are enough customers.” — Gabriel Weinberg
Book is co-written by Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of DuckDuckGo. Author reflects on his own journey, and shares the things he’s learned while working on his own startups.
Hope you’ll enjoy reading these, until next time!