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12 Great Reads for Product Teams

Long hot days tend to lull us into a sense of timelessness, but already back-to-school sales seem to be creeping in around the edges. Before the summer slips by, take this opportunity to educate yourself on UX, Agile, sprint processes, and DevOps. Who cares if people say you have odd taste in beach reading? Channel your inner beach nerd, apply SPF60+ and choose one of the many new titles out this summer.

This book is a practical day-by-day guide for implementing the five-day sprint process to develop and test design ideas. The sprint process, developed by the authors at Google Ventures and applied at countless startups since, embraces the counterintuitive idea that big challenges are best addressed in a short time frame and that nearly anything can be mapped out and tested within one week. Released this past March, this is a good one to fit in this summer if you haven’t read it already!

Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams  
James Kalbach
In this book, James Kalbach, author of Designing Web Navigation, compiles and documents multiple approaches to UX mapping. This approach focuses on creating value for customers and aligning organizations with the user experience. The text presents an overview and a general process for mapping, followed by a more in-depth look at several types of customer experience diagrams.

The Joy of UX: User Experience and Interactive Design for Developers
David Platt
Seeking to connect UX and development, and debunk the notion that UX is just about visual design, this is a UX text aimed at developers. Platt gives an overview of personas, identifying user needs, sketching and prototyping, as well as telemetry and analytics, testing, and UX through the lens of security and privacy.

Practical UX Design
Scott Faranello
In a holistic overview of UX design, Faranello addresses the UX mindset, fostering creativity, the characteristics and foundation of good UX design and information architecture, and a few UX strategies and tools. This book aims to be accessible but is also aimed at helping established UX professionals develop and mature their skills.

Design for Real Life
Eric Meyer and Sara Wacther-Boettcher
This book makes the case for compassionate design, drawing on examples from real websites and services to build a practical set of design principles. The authors focus on the concept of “stress cases” and how designing for users who approach a product or service under non-ideal conditions can create better design for all users.

Making Things Special: The Art of User Experience Design
Jenny Lam and Hillel Cooperman
Written by the team behind Jackson Fish Market, this second book in the Making Things Special series delves into questions of audience needs and designer goals and perspective.

UX Lifecycle: The Business Guide to Implementing Great Software User Experiences
Jeremy Baines and Clive Howard
The founders of Howard Baines consulting make the case for UX focus from a business perspective for companies involved in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business software models. This book provides a guide for businesses starting out their UX journey and works through a life cycle process of discover-build-measure.

Real World Agility: Practical Guidance for Agile Practitioners
David James Gullo
Agile/Scrum trainer and consultant David Gullo draws on his experience with real-world implementation of Agile practices to address the challenges of implementing Agile for existing organizations, products, and teams. The text addresses both immediate practical matters of implementation and the bigger picture of fitting Agile processes into an existing organization.

Effective DevOps: Building a Culture of Collaboration, Affinity, and Tooling at Scale
Jennifer Davis and Katherine Daniels
This book provides an in-depth introduction to DevOps culture and its foundations and principles, then explores strategies for improving collaboration and workflows and creating affinity among different teams within an organization. Later sections in the book address tools, scaling, and bridging DevOps cultures. Though aimed at those in leadership roles, this text aims to provide anyone within an organization with specific steps they can take to implement DevOps in their workplace.

Software Ownership Transfer: Evolving Knowledge Transfer for the Agile World
Vinod Sankaranarayanan
This text addresses a sometimes neglected element of a software development life cycle—the transfer of systems to new ownership.  Sankaranarayanan applies Agile principles to this stage to show how to develop a more complete and effective knowledge transfer, drawing on real-world examples and providing practical tips.

(Also, keep an eye out this fall for Sense & Respond: How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously. We’re really looking forward to this title.)

There are plenty of opportunities to expand your mind and learn a few new concepts this summer. If that’s still not quite enough self-education for you, learn how to build an onboarding engine for product and customer success. This read pairs best with a low-slung beach chair and a soft-serve twist cone with rainbow sprinkles. After all, it can still be a vacation–even when you’re reading about how to improve your SaaS.


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