One of the most common questions I get over e-mail & twitter is the infamous “Do you have any good design books to suggest?” one. I wouldn’t blame those people – there is an abundance of books (even good ones) out there and it’s really difficult to read between the lines, Amazon reviews or not Amazon reviews.
Due to this, I’ve decided to mark the first week of my #p52 project with this blog post. Without further ado, here are my favourite web design books of all time, in the order I’ve read them:
The second version (the orange one) of this book is one of the first books I’ve been fortunate to read on web design. And believe me, it’s a hell of a starter on proper web design, and by proper I mean standards-based.
This book is not a technical one – eventhough its second part gets into the nitty-gritty of stuff. Its value lies in the background information on standards, the definition of things like the browser wars, and the arguments pro and against standards.
It’s a great book to read if you don’t have a clue what the heck is web standards in the first place, and an awesome book to return to when all hope withers and clients are raving on your phone about scrolling marquees and animated .gifs.
By Steve Krug
What? I hear you say. Is she for real? A book from the *gasp* 2005?
I know, 2005 feels like an eon away in web years, but believe me, those 4,5 Amazon stars are not there just for show. Krug managed to pack a great deal of insight in a lightweight and funny book you could read on a plane trip.
Don’t Make Me Think, as Designing with Web Standards, does not focus on the technical aspect. Krug explains in simple terms why we must stop placing hurdles in front of our users (and potential clients) and demystifies some of the most common web faux pas.
If you could only get one book on web design, this should be it. Witty and to-the-point, Don’t Make Me Think is an essential book for all designers, developers and front-end magicians.
By Andy Clarke
If Designing with Web Standards was the book that got me into the whole hullaballoo, it was Transcending CSS by famous web trickster Andy Clarke that guided me to the light.
Hyperbole? Probably. What I know is that Transcending CSS proved itself more useful than I’ve ever imagined and changed the way I wrote HTML & CSS forever. Gone are the usual code listings and “Reminder!” footnotes; Andy takes us into a wild ride around semantic code in a really, really handsome book you just love to flick through.
If you already have a solid grasp of CSS but you need that extra something that eludes you, try this book. I guarantee you will write better code, right after you flip that last page.
Designing the Moment: Web Interface Design Concepts in Action & Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design
Those two little books by Robert Hoekman Jr. were two very pleasant suprises. I really didn’t know what to expect when I bought them, but they proved really valuable and informative.
Reading them, you’ll stumble upon concepts like kaizen and the 5S approach, while you’ll learn (using real-life examples, I always love those) how to chisel those interfaces of yours into UX masterpieces.
If you love application design and feel you can do better in keeping your interfaces lean and mean, these two books will help a ton, I can vouch for them.
This is one of my latest favs. I happen to love the way mr. Cederholm writes – he seriously makes me feel calmer, more confident and a little bit zen about web design.
Handcrafted CSS is a pretty recent book, so expect extended coverage of all the latest and greatest CSS techniques and a thousand and one reasons why you should use them, right now. I bought the DVD version, in which mr. Cederholm offers face-to-face advice about advances in CSS design and gives real-life examples of forward thinking in web design.
If you have any doubts concerning CSS3 techniques, if you still cling to IE6 with a vengeance and firmly believe that every design must look pixel-perfect in all browsers, do us all a favour and get this book. Like a cup of good green tea, this book will make you feel more balanced, instantly.
Disclaimer: All title links above contain my Amazon associate ID, so if you buy something by following one of the links, a little bit of shiny gratitude will come my way. Glee!