If you work in the field of User Experience, you have to know about the following resources. I will keep adding to this list.

Krug, S. (2013), Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Berkeley, CA: New Riders

This book includes Krug’s Laws of Usability:

1. “Don’t make me think.”

2. “It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice.”

3. “Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what is left.”

Norman, D. (2013), Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition, New York, NY: Basic Books

Formerly known as “Psychology of Everyday Things”, this book introduces the ideas of affordance and mental models. If you see anything by Donald Norman, get it and read it.

Beyer, H and Holtzblatt, K. (1997), Contextual Design: Defining Customer-Centered Systems, Burlington, MA: Morgan Kauffman

While this hasn’t been updated in far too long, this book supplies the techniques and tips to conduct thorough and effective user studies to identify “real users, doing real work, in their real environment.”

Ertmer, P., Quinn J. and Glazewski, K. (2013) The ID CaseBook: Case Studies in Instructional Design, Old Tappan, NJ: Pearson

This is a series of open-ended instructional design case studies that strengthen and encourage successful problem solving, and conceptual, procedural, and analytical skills to be used with a variety of real-world clients and the execution of creative solutions. Oh, and by the way, I co-wrote one of the case studies.

Also, Performance Consulting, by Robinson and Robinson, and Metaphors We Live By, by George Laikoff.

In my career, I have heard the quote “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” when a client or business owner wanted to do something new, often for the sake of doing something new. The full quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson is ““A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” There is a very important distinction there.

Consistency is essential to reducing the cognitive load of your interface – the mental effort required to complete a task. When a design is consistent, every interaction feels smooth and frictionless. When it is too inconsistent, the user must expend unnecessary effort figuring out the interface instead of completing the work.

The field of user experience design has roots in human factors and ergonomics, a field that, since the late 1940s, has focused on the interaction between human users, machines, and the contextual environments to design systems that address the user's experience. With the proliferation of workplace computers in the early 1990s, user experience became an important concern for designers. It was Donald Norman, a user experience architect, who coined and brought the term user experience to wider knowledge.

I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person's experience with the system including industrial design graphics, the interface, the physical interaction and the manual. Since then the term has spread widely, so much so that it is starting to lose its meaning.

—Donald Norman

The term also has a more recent connection to user-centered design, human–computer interaction, and also incorporates elements from similar user-centered design fields.

The thing about best practices is they never stay the same.

Long ago, best practices told us fixed-width websites using table-based design were the way to ensure a consistent experience for users (of course, all users were surfing using desktop computers, and you had to choose 800×600 resolution to get all of them). Best practice also led us to the era of “looks best in Internet Explorer” or Netscape Navigator. Back then, I thought I was keeping up with the trends to help anyone who came to my site see things the way I intended.

My problem, and the problem shared by the people who created and popularized the best practices — was I’d chosen a my own familiar, comfortable context for the sites I’d build. I was building websites for my context: the browsing conditions that I was used to. I was doing my work on a fast computer with a modern browser, large high-resolution monitor and a high-speed internet connection—that’s what the web was, to me.

We have to change our context, from providing the web the way we intend, to allowing visitors to consume our web the way they desire.  That could mean on a mobile device, using a variety of browsers, or on a 3G connection. Our web resources have to be flexible enough to adjust to the context of the visitor, instead of allowing ourselves to set the ground rules. That means keeping up with the latest best practices, and being willing to challenge or even reject “best practices” that don’t serve our visitors.