A Book Review of Undercover User Experience Design

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I read a lot of UX books in the past few years, including Undercover User Experience Design by Cennydd Bowles and James Box, and it only occurred to me now that I have never written a book review about it. Since Undercover User Experience is mentioned in almost all UX Book collections, it is time to write my book review.

Who should read Undercover User Experience Design?

Let me start of by telling you that ‘Undercover User Experience Design’ is more targeted for the broader audience. A junior-to-mid UX professional, a developer/designer thinking of ‘moving into the field’ or introducing user-centered ideas into the business, would highly benefit from this book. I do believe, however, that the more seasoned UX practitioner could pick up a few things along the way as well.

What is Undercover User Experience Design about?

The book is a very thorough manual in which Cennydd and James explain a whole range of UX methods and approaches, following through all the different company processes and is just loaded with practical advice. How to conduct proper user research, design principles, usability testing, A/B and Multivariate testing, prototyping, even how to improve your wireframing skills are just a few topics.

What I really like is that Cennydd and James go beyond these topics. They explain how to prepare the company for UX, how to get the entire organization and stakeholders on board, when you should report what to who, how to work together and get along with other people and departments, how to plan design reviews, … To me, this book is about picking up advice and putting it into the field the very next day.

Ok, it is not as thorough as ‘The UX Book‘, but I was not expecting a book with such a wide range of information either. Undercover User Experience Design (or UUXD) shows you a collection of tools and possibilities to tailor your UX design process, how integrate it into the culture of your organization and how to put it into the field with minimal time and budget.

“Since you can never fully understand the problem, you can never design the perfect solution either. Hopefully that’s a liberating feeling; embrace it.”
— Cennydd Bowles and James Box

What is UUXD not about?

It really struck me that the finer details, examples and theory were missing. But in all fairness, that is not what the authors were aiming for. UUXD is all about learning while doing. Read about it in the book and try it out the next day. If you are more interested in theory, I would highly recommend ‘The Elements of User Experience‘ by Jesse James Garrett.


I did find UUXD to be great for its practical advice, but not very deep in regards to theory. It contains a lot of basics that are wonderful for its intended audience. The value for the more seasoned UX practitioner would be the reading tips at the end of each chapter and the online resources and tools it mentioned throughout. Practical advice that goes beyond most UX books!


Undercover User Experience Design

Undercover User Experience Design – by Cennydd Bowles and James Box

A must-read which is an accessible, up-to-date and concise guide of UXD techniques and principles from a professional’s perspective, full with practical advice. UX professionals however will already know most of its contents.


More Books

“Undercover User Experience Design” is not really what you’re looking for? No problem. I have collected some of the best UX books out there in one post. I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking.

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Paul Olyslager

Paul is the creator, editor and most regular writer of paulolyslager.com. He's also working as UX Lead for Home24, a leading online shop for furniture and home accessories, based in Berlin, Germany. Read all about Paul or find him on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

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