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7 Books for B2B UX Design

Some resources from Alan Natale's talk on Designing for B2B and a link to watch his full presentation.


The Beer and UX community was recently joined by veteran designer Alan Natale for a deep dive on designing from B2B. Alan’s talk, which can be found in full on our YouTube channel, compared designing for B2B with B2C, included many useful tips on navigating large enterprise organizations as a UX designer, and even offered some great job interview tips (be prepared to talk through the design process in detail).


As a UX designer, Alan explained, it’s useful to think of yourself as a lawyer for the end user. You are uniquely positioned in an organization to advocate for users at every turn. Being an effective user experience designer in any context requires emotional intelligence, tact, and patience, in addition to the skills of actually designing. Alan reminded us that there are many different paths to becoming a great UX designer, none of them inherently better. Throughout the presentation, Alan referenced books that he felt were essential reading for UX designers working in B2B because they covered everything from design patterns to office politics.


Let’s dive in!


1. The Design of Everyday Things

If you’re a designer who doesn’t know about Nielsen Norman Group, Alan recommends you familiarize yourself with their work and the many useful resources they’ve created over the years. One of the firm’s founders, Don Norman’s book The Design of Everyday Things reminds us that effective design serves as the communication between objects and the people who use them.


2. Don’t Make Me Think

Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think delivers on the promise of its title and offers a common sense approach to web usability.


3. Designing Interfaces 3rd Edition

A book that has been a great reference for Alan in his own career is Jenifer Tidwell’s Designing Interfaces. This catalogue of common design patterns was recently updated to include mobile patterns and is according to Alan, essential reading.


4. About Face, The Essentials of Interaction Design

Alan described About Face, The Essentials of Interaction Design as being packed with best practices, philosophies to guide you, and tips on how to actually design. Chapter after chapter, Cooper articulates why as a designer you don’t want to expose the engineering side of things to the end user.


5. Lean UX

Alan sited Lean UX as a great resource to help designers understand where (and how) they fit into Agile teams. From his own experience, Alan shared that it can be challenging for designers to successfully integrate themselves in truly Agile organizations because there isn’t always enough information to begin designing. Gothelf and Seiden’s writing he explained, was a great resource on understanding how to design within a larger Agile team, while ensuring there’s enough time to do discovery and understand the users.


6. Web Form Design

Though he laughed at the generalization, Alan explained that designing in B2B can boil down to designing complicated forms, seemingly endlessly. Wroblewski’s book Web Form Design offers some great tips on how to be kind to users who have to look at data all day and fill out forms.


7. Who Gets Promoted Who Doesn’t And Why

In any job, we encounter org charts, politics, and social dynamics. As designers working in a B2B context, especially at larger organizations, we’re likely to be working with professionals all across the organization and at all levels. Donal Asher’s Who Gets Promoted Who Doesn’t And Why, will help readers navigate the sea of different disciplines. Alan also explained to the group: emotional maturity is important for thriving in large companies. As designers, who are hopefully advocating appropriately for end users, patience is something we must learn to practice. Another tip: familiarize yourself with the org chart and the work that your colleagues do.


Bonus: Accessibility guidelines for UX Designers

Accessibility, not surprisingly also came up during Alan’s talk. Ensuring products are accessible and usable is crucial in a B2B context, and not just because some things have to be accessible by law. For this, Alan offered Avinash Kaur’s Accessibility guidelines for UX Designers on Medium.


Watch Alan’s presentation


A big thank you to Alan for sharing his wisdom and experiences with the group. We’re already looking forward to reconvening in March to talk about leading a design team with David Silva.


Every month Neuron hosts a monthly meetup called Beer and UX, where designers and design enthusiasts gather to learn, discuss, debate, and hear from design practitioners on everything from collaboration, to privacy.

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