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Best Product Design Books
(Updated 2023)

Sven Woltmann
Sven Woltmann
Last update: November 27, 2023

In the context of books for founders and entrepreneurs and business management books, in this article you will find the best books on how to design and develop products that attract and keep the attention of customers.

You can then read about how to get these products to buyers in books on digits marketing, for example.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Hooked - Nir Eyal

by Nir Eyal

Link to the book at Amazon

Why are services such as e-mail, WhatsApp, or Instagram so popular that many can no longer imagine everyday life without them?

How can entrepreneurs design products so that they attract and retain the attention of their customers - without costly advertising - until they use them out of sheer habit?

Nir Eyal, lecturer, investor, and expert in consumer psychology, has systematically explored these questions. The result is the "Hook Model" - a cyclic process consisting of the following four phases:

  1. Trigger: First external (e.g., an e-mail or a notification), later internal (e.g., boredom) triggers lead to action.
  2. Action: This must require as little effort as possible, i.e., the product must be as intuitive to use as possible.
  3. Variable reward: Rewards should vary (e.g., news and feedback from friends, progress indicators) and motivate to continue using the product.
  4. Investment: The more time and effort users invest in a product (e.g., progress in a game, tracked activity in sports apps, their timeline in social networks), the harder it will be for them to part with the product or replace it with another.

The book contains numerous illustrative examples - from social media to Bible apps. It reads smoothly and includes a summary of the key findings at the end of each chapter, as well as practical checklists for applying the theory to your products.

Ethical issues are also addressed, albeit somewhat superficially ("Only develop products that improve people's lives and that you would use yourself").

A recommendation for entrepreneurs, product managers, designers, and anyone who wants to develop products that excite their customers enough to integrate them into their everyday lives.

Suitable as an audiobook? Yes.

Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

Competing Against Luck - book cover

by Clayton M. Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, David S. Duncan

Link to the book at Amazon

Similar to "Nail It Then Scale It," this book deals with how successful innovation can be systematically planned so that customers are willing to pay premium prices for the products and services offered.

However, the focus in this book is not on the product development process itself, but on why customers spend money on specific products and services.

The answer is to be found in the so-called "jobs to be done" theory: customers do not buy products and services; instead, they hire them to do a particular job.

One product can be used for a variety of jobs: a daily newspaper, for example, provides information, covers waiting times, helps people find a job, offers relaxation after work – all tasks for which completely different products can be used today. Likewise, different products can be used for the same job: For relaxation after work, I can hire Netflix, my smartphone, family, and friends.

To succeed with innovation, an entrepreneur must understand what job his product does for the customer. Otherwise, he risks being taken over by a competitor with a product that does the job better.

The book explains the theory and its application in practice with numerous vivid and convincing examples, which makes the book very entertaining and worth reading.

Suitable as an audiobook? Yes.

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)

Priceless - William Poundstone

by William Poundstone

Link to the book at Amazon

What prices are people willing to pay? Even as a computer science student, I had to learn about supply and demand curves in my basic economics course. These are based on the assumption that humans, as "homo economicus", always decide rationally.

Countless studies in recent decades have disproved this approach. Humans act highly emotionally. Numerous psychological factors influence the prices people are willing to pay.

For example, take the "anchoring" bias: people are exposed to a (usually very high) price before a purchasing decision. The higher this "anchor", the higher prices a buyer considers appropriate. Every supermarket exploits this effect: The most expensive wines are not presented because they are often bought – but because they pull up the price that customers find acceptable for mid-range wines.

This book is a collection of reviews of academic studies on price psychology, with exciting and often surprising findings, complemented by entertaining anecdotes from the lives of the psychologists and economists who conducted them.

The results are not only interesting for people who have to set prices, but also for us consumers. In our day-to-day confrontation with prices and purchasing decisions, it gives us a chance to reflect on the psychological tricks that have led us to believe that the price we are willing to pay is reasonable.

Suitable as an audiobook? The title is currently not available as an audiobook – should that change, it would be suitable as such.