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The holiday season is here. My budget for gift giving is drying up, and my shopping list is growing. Not only do I need to find gifts for friends and family, but I also have to find something thoughtful for my designer colleagues. We spend our days scrutinizing our decisions and judging each other’s ability to communicate aesthetics. How can designers possibly buy gifts for other designers without going broke? I cannot offer a definitive answer, but here are suggestions that I have gathered from conversations in my designer circles on the best gifts for UX designers under $30.

Give gifts for UX designers that up their skills

User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product
I first came across this book at the Big Design Conference in Dallas of this year. Elissa Miller from CU Technologies discussed how user story mapping can help a multidiscipline team can stay focused on the original intent of the application and avoid distractions executive mandates.

Price on Kindle: $16.99

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
As designers, we need to find ways to connect with people to better understand how to best solve problems for them. Having a meaningful conversation is becoming increasingly difficult the more technology infuses into our lives. This book breaks down how society is beginning to recognize these barriers to conversations. It also offers suggestions on how we can take steps to encourage better connections.

Price on Kindle: $12.99

MAGNETIC NOTES S (Stick without Any Adhesive, Stick to Any Surface)
We’re trying these out in the office by attempting to turn any surface into a collaboration space. So far, we have found that they will stick to everything without glue.

Price on Kindle: $7.99

Help them relax

FUUT – Put your foot up on the hammock under the desk
At 4pm, you need to relax. It is not quitting time, but your space needs to allow for winding down.

Price: $10.18

Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray
The office is a small place. You can hide sounds. This will help with the smells.

Price: $9.17

Bring them cool things

Vigvog Men’s Art Patterned Casual Crew Lover Socks
Socks are an easy and subtle way to let designers express themselves.

Price: 16.99

Vintage Soyuz rocket paper Moon Wallet.

Price: 9.99

Inspire creativity

Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur
Tim Ferris first introduced me to Derek Sivers in a podcast interview. Derek talks about the root of his success is finding ways to help people not seeking the quickest path to profit.

Price on Kindle: $10.99

Subway Art
While I was too young to participate in 1980’s graffiti culture, I always found inspiration from the history of of the hip hop, street art and New York City.

Price on paperback: $16.96

Give them the gift of giggles

100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings: How to Get By Without Even Trying
Sarah Cooper does an excellent job of pointing out that corporate culture is both ridiculous and alarming. Her years in tech and business have sharpened her wit by routinely asking, “Is the path to success determined by how well we can fake it?”

Price on paperback: $12.78

Matt Eng

Matt Eng

DesignOps Manager. Based in Austin,TX. Worked with clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ogilvy, RBC, Deloitte, Whirlpool, Polycom, Symantec, and Pebble. Matt teaches, mentors, and speaks about design, creativity, and fostering stronger connections within teams.