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Badass: Making Users Awesome

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  848 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Imagine you’re in a game with one objective: a bestselling product or service. The rules? No marketing budget, no PR stunts, and it must be sustainably successful. No short-term fads.

This is not a game of chance. It is a game of skill and strategy.

And it begins with a single question: given competing products of equal pricing, promotion, and perceived quality, why does one
Paperback, 294 pages
Published February 23rd 2015 by O'Reilly Media (first published January 1st 2015)
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Tomas Kafka Definitely. For me, the main takeaway were two eye-opening ways of how experts learn, and that was something that's directly applicable today to becom…moreDefinitely. For me, the main takeaway were two eye-opening ways of how experts learn, and that was something that's directly applicable today to become a better developer, designer, photographer ... anything.(less)

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 ·  848 ratings  ·  107 reviews

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Dmitry Trofimov
May 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
It is very difficult for me to rate this book. Before I read it, I had heard a lot of recommendations and reviews, all of them described the book as a 'must read'. And many of them were from people I respect. I even watched one of Kathy Sierra's conference talks (unfortunately, don't remember which exactly), but I remember clearly that I liked the way she spoke, her ideas. I thought that she was a brilliant speaker and that the book should definitely be great and that someday I must read it. And ...more
Yevgeniy Brikman
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've read on product design and development. Actually, it's less of a book and more of a slideshow, with tons of stock photos, diagrams, flow charts, and relatively little text, but the format works, and it conveys the key themes of the book in a clear and memorable way. Those themes are:

* Your goal is not to create a great product, but to create great users. Your product, as well as all the documentation, marketing, and community around it, should be focused on hel
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, paper, craft
I love Kathy Sierra's writing, but I didn't expect to be so blown away by this book. It was everything she had been trickling out in her blog, but more so, refined and honed into a few key points.

I thought it seemed light and insubstantial, with a lot of pictures and white space. I needed all that white space, and I still ended up putting the book down every 50 or 60 pages so I could digest all the new ways of thinking I was being presented with. It's written for product designers (not just soft
Sebastian Gebski
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Go read that book. Seriously. It's badass itself.

Actually it's as much about fitting users' needs as about overall self-development of human being: learning, motivation, improving, focus & many more.
And the best thing is that it's very, very condensed - no bloat, no weaving around, just a strong message (yea, sometimes there's a bit too much of NLP, but it doesn't get that irritating ;>) I totally agree with.

Highly recommended. And make sure you're reading a properly formatted (PDF or mobi on Ki
Adrian Howard
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lovely book that synthesises a bunch of stuff on motivation, skills acquisition, flow, etc. into a nice product development framework (and unlike a certain popular science writer I could name references the original sources for those who want to dig further ;-)

As an additional bonus Kathy uses the techniques she describes in the book in a delightfully meta way to structure the book itself.

Totally badass.
Eduardo Xavier
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: software, ux
None of the subjects she addresses are new and despite the negative reviews (some saying it is not a book), I think the Kathy - known for head first series - did a nice job in discussing the consequences and results when we focus on our user taking into account their emotional side rather than functionality of our product. That's so human! :)

Anyway, it is not quite a how-to book, despite the exercises contained in it - I think they provoke learning itself. I don't think applying it on a daily ba
Patrik Hallberg
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
This is a badass book :) a friend at work recommended it to me!

The formula according to Kathy Sierra =
Improving our chances of making a sustainable bestselling product or service
Make our users badass
Help them actually get better - 1) help them practice right 2) help them get exposure to the right things
Help them keep wanting to - 1) focus on what makes them stop 2) help them with progress + payoffs
Reduce cognitive resource leaks

The rest of my notes reading this book =
Don’t make a better X, make
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Whoa! What a refreshing read this was!

I was familiar with some of the ideas after seeing presentations and reading blog posts from the author, but the book packs the whole thing and adds references for where you can get more.

The book argues that instead of focusing on making your product/tool look good, you should focus in making your users look good. So, you want to make your user a badass: an expert in the things that she wants to do (not an expert in your tool/product).

It starts by explaining
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book would have you believe that it is for people writing software - the typical kind of person that has to wonder what their user is thinking and how to make the user behave the way they want. I think this book goes beyond that. This book is for anyone who has a message that they want to get across. If you are a teacher designing a lesson plan, if you are a speaker designing a presentation, or if you are trying to learn a skill yourself: this book is worth your time. The conce ...more
Adam Fortuna
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'll read anything Kathy Sierra writes. I actually ordered this book when I was out of town, having it delivered to a hotel because I was looking forward to it that much. What I got was a book that inspired me to think differently about how I plan features, UX, and everything else for users.

What stuck with me the most was the concept of putting users into different "buckets" of ability on your product -- beginners, intermediate and advanced. If you aren't moving users up in their abilities on mu
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business-reads
An excellent book for anyone who dreams of being useful to society. what does it mean to be of service, provide a service? is it merely a transaction? is it all just for profit? or do you really want to enrich the lives of others through what you offer? if you want to move beyond just buy and sell to a space where people are improved, delighted and challenged by the things you create and the services you provide, Sierra's book is for you. ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was a good book, but it's structured more like an extended comic book than a traditional Business book.

TL;DR: Make your users feel superhuman, and they'll tell all their friends about how awesome you are.
Werther Azevedo
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Don’t let this book’s cheesy title fool you. Kathy Sierra takes us on a journey through cognition and learning, using powerful arguments, scientific data and a quick n’ witty writing style, to make the case that our products should focus on making its users better (or badass, as she puts it) on a compelling context that’s meaningful to them.

Even though her method sounds more suitable to digital tools, the central argument of the book (or, as she puts it, her own compelling context) should be us
Ali Spittel
Sep 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
I like the content of this book. I love the idea of making learning paths for users. The other content is valuable too. I *hated* the format. I would have preferred more stories and tangible use cases instead of pictures. I also found it weirdly repetitive.
Eduards Sizovs
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Badass is an easy-to-read book about customers and how to make them awesome. It's hard to call this work a book, because it's designed as a slide deck.

We can make users badass by:
- helping them actually get better
- helping them practice right
- helping them get exposure to the right things
- helping them keep motivated to grow professionally

It's a good intro to habits, cognitive load and motivation. I recommend this book if you want to remind yourself how to engage users.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: learning, favorites
Wow. Whether you build apps/websites, write content for your company website, customer support or are involved in writing user manuals, this book is full of insights on how to improve on that. Also, if you coach/teach people new skills that require expertise (photography, software development, musical instrument,...) you will take away lots of new insights from this one. It's a fun and fast read with lots of visual aids.

The main message: don't focus on "brand engagement" strategies, instead help
Jeanne Boyarsky
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technology
When I read a book about software development process, I view it as a successful read if I have a bunch of things to try to make things better. Badass isn't a software process book, but it passes that test with flying colors. I have a page of thoughts. Another test I use for process books is whether I am likely to have different/more ideas if I read it again. I've put on my calendar to read this one again in three months. I can tell now, it will be just as motivational and thought provoking then ...more
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nilibrary
It reads like a witty Power Point presentation, and I'm not opposed to that. Easy to flip through; easy to retain the little sound bytes.

Technically, BADASS is about increasing brand retention by consumers. However, it's much more than that. Sierra touches on things like motivation, goal-oriented learning, and the process of becoming an expert. Officially, she's referring to the user. However, I learned a lot about these things for myself and definitely picked up some tidbits I intend to put int
Rob Weir
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
I really enjoyed “Baddass: Making Users Awesome.” Kathy Sierra here has brought together best practices from a range of disciplines, design, expertise development, word of mouth marketing, human motivation, pedagogy, etc., and created a grand synthesis that shows how to create the kind of “badass” users that make your product shine. Instead of gimmicky approaches based on extrinsic motivations like gamification and viral social media content, Kathy focuses on making the user successful at the la ...more
Jarkko Laine
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you've read Kathy Sierra's earlier work, you'll know to expect something different from your normal business book. I knew this, but I was still surprised by what I found in Badass. The book is much more like Sierra giving a lecture or PowerPoint presentation than a book — and that's a big part of what makes it special.

The ideas in the book are powerful, and I'm planning to revisit it from time to time as I work on my business. That said, a lot of the content stays at a rather high level, so f
Eugene Yokota
May 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Before even finishing the book, I couldn't stop inserting the mini-facts and inspirations I got from this book in any conversation remotely related to usability, branding, running open source community, etc. I wouldn't say it's "Extreme Programming Explained" good, but this book has changed the way I look at things.

There are parts of the book that doesn't flow as well, etc whatever, and honestly I did skim the latter half partially because I've seen a recorded talk that covered the topic. I prob
Szymon Kulec
Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I was expecting more.

This book delivers a great content with a very poor "catchy" structure. When reading it, I felt like I was attending a couching/motivational conference that wants me to want my users to become badass. Slide-like pages, filled with pictures and arrows. Searching for the ultimate strategy for making users awesome with lots of clif-hangers. This is a big "no no" for me.

On the other side, the products' framing they propose looks truly inspirational. Guiding users, delivering de
Bryan Fordham
May 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Some good information in here. Unfortunately the format, which starts off as clever and easy to read, eventually becomes too light and distracting. This makes it too easy to just skim past things.

Others have loved the format, so obviously this is a matter of opinion. And some of the information is worth the effort. But I'm not sure I would again buy a book that is mostly clip art.
Wojtek Erbetowski
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed it a lot! This book has its unique style and it seemed to me, it will not carry a lot of value.
Oh, how wrong! I love the model presented here.
It opened my eyes to inefficiencies in my own learning process and made me think about my own cognitive leaks.
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I could not put it down! What a treat!
Kenny Parnell
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great book about how people learn and how to help them learn, thus making your users awesome.
Bob Lewis
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
There's a lot to be said for the premise of this book: if brands design their products (and their marketing, documentation, etc.) with the goal of helping their users, a lot of their marketing will take care of itself. To use one of the examples regularly mentioned in the book, if you make cameras, you should design your product and documentation specifically to help your users be better photographers, and the word of mouth marketing they'll generate will make a better showing in your sales figu ...more
Stefan Ritter
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I believe this book should be on every product manager's shelf. The whole book is built around the question of what differentiates products with long term success from ones with short term successes.
The amount of work that has gone into this book is breathtaking - both in terms of information depth and in terms of the didactics by which it is fed to the reader. I started with the Kindle version, but also bought the paperback, so that I can better enjoy the many diagrams and explanatory images.

Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of those books that by the title, sounds like it could be about UX design or even marketing, but you soon realize it’s actually about learning theory and pedagogy. It reminds me in that respect to McCloud’s Understanding Comics. It’ll answer the question for your of how to make an outstanding product, but be prepared to go along on a ride of deep understanding rather than proscriptive and popular X steps to take. It’s brilliance is that is surveys those topics in a very accessible, dialectic ...more
Keith Nicholas
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is a good read, and has some fantastic explanations of how someone learns and becomes an expert. I finished the book and thought it was really good, but upon reflection I felt it really wasn't that helpful on it's central theme. It did have some good things to be aware of when trying to make users awesome, but you actually won't be making users awesome based on this book. In fact I can see that if you tried leveraging some of the advice in the book you could create awful messes with th ...more
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