updated: October 2nd, 2009 / Ross Johnson / 21 Comments

10 Web Design books you probably missed but owe yourself to read

Believe it or not, despite the short lifespan of the industry; the web design community is actually well matured. We are to a point where we have a “web celebrities,” heroes, leaders, and a pretty well defined echo chamber. This really is a testament to the state of the industry and how it has evolved into a strong group of evangelists who care about developing standards, becoming forward thinking, and leading the direction of web design and online media.

This is not with out drawbacks however, even if they are slight. Those publishing information about the web design tend to get the most recognition if they are a part of this group of web celebz. This isn’t to say that those books are not worth their weight in goal, but we tend to skip over books of incredible value because they don’t get the buzz of all the web leaders talking about.

Here is a list of ten great web design books that you may have missed…

1. Web Design and Marketing Solutions for Business Websites

By Kevin Potts of Graphic Push

It has always surprised me how little buzz this book has generated considering the quality of the content. Maybe the title is misinforming of what the book is about? Kevin really paints a great picture of how you should go about developing a great website for businesses. From developing goals, measuring the goals, drafting great about pages, to online advertising you really owe it to yourself to read this book.

2. Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results

by Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg, Lisa T. Davis

This is an amazing book about optimizing your website to achieve higher conversion rates and accomplish your websites goals. With a mix of usability, web copy, and user psychology, the book mixes studies and research to craft information worth its weight in gold for web developers/designers/planners. After reading this book we were able to mix their process into our web projects, and building “conversion focused websites” is one of our selling points.

3. Designing Web Navigation: Optimizing the User Experience

by James Kalbach

Maybe it sounds too specific to write a whole book about, but there is a lot of valuable information contained inside the Design Web Navigation book. The navigation of your website is a critical point of user interaction, yet so many people barely give it second thought. This book walks you through human information behavior, how to build your navigation for information scents or information shapes, and how properly designed navigation can actually improve branding and credibility.

4. Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that works

By Kelly Goto

Most of us work on the development of websites on a daily basis, but hardly put a second thought into our workflow and the most efficient way to delivering a successful website. This book walks through a proven method for estimating, managing, and delivering successful website projects with out falling into the pitfalls such as scope creep, missed deadlines, etc

5. Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks

By Luke Wroblewski

Web forms are far from the sexiest part of being a web designer, but they are a critical point of almost any website. Very few sites these days lack a web form, and web forms are the ways that users can truly interact with the sites that we build. Yet so little attention is given to forms, they are considered to be a hassle to design, program and implement. Yet countless studies have shown that properly designed forms have increased conversion rates in ecommerce situations, leads, and user participation. This book goes over all the information you should consider when design a web form, and you may find a new appreciation for designing web forms.

6. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites

Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville

Information architecture doesn’t always get the respect that it deserves. Too often people simply assume that they know what pages, content, and information should go into what sections. The reality is that it takes a lot more than assumptions and guesswork to really organize a large website in a way that is easy to comprehend, use, and understand. This book walks you through everything you need to know to create large enterprise level websites and intranets. Ignoring IA is a sure recipe for failure.

7. Building Accessible Websites

http://joeclark.org/

This book tends to be talked about more in regards to the cover and it’s similar appearance to internet shock pictures. While you would hope the publicity would get more people interested in accessibility and this book, it doesn’t seem to get the recognition it should. The book is a masterpiece in describing the importance of creating accessible websites, and how to do so properly. If you are on the fence about the importance of web accessibility, or would like to add accessibility to one of your skill sets then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this book.

8. HTML Mastery: Semantics, Standards, and Styling

Paul Haine

A unique idea, a book about the deep roots of semantic HTML itself. What sounds like a boring read is actually quite thrilling and interesting. Anyone who loved “designing with web standards” or is a front end developer should consider reading this book to remember all that is given to us with just straight semantic HTML. It refreshed my mind as to the possibilities of XHTML and since I have started using tags that I had long forgotten or failed to see the value in.

9. Beginning JavaScript with DOM Scripting and Ajax: From Novice to Professional

Christian Heilmann

Sure Javascript Libraries like JQUERY or MooTools are all the rage now days, they do speed up development, etc… but actually knowing javascript is extremely valuable. Even if it is at a basic level so that you can leverage those libraries to their full advantages. Chris Heilman has written a great book that teaches everything from the most basic javascript and DOM scripting to using full featured AJAX calls. I have read a handful of the other popular javascript books and none of them are as all encompassing as this one. Perfect for any javascript newbie, or middle level javascript user.

10. Balanced Website Design: Optimising Aesthetics, Usability and Purpose

Dave Lawrence, Soheyla Tavakol

Balance in web design is one of the great difficulties we all run into. It seems the more people you add into a team the more people are focused on one aspect of design or another, but balance is rarely achieved. All too often people focus on design over usability and user experience, or even focus on UX with no accord for aesthetic appeal. This book walks you through balancing the aspects of web design to produce a better website overall. The best websites we use day in and day out are the ones who are able to find that happy medium that appeases users at all levels.

21 thoughts 10 Web Design books you probably missed but owe yourself to read

  1. This is an excellent list. I hadn’t heard of most of these, but they look quite promising. I’ve added several of them to my Amazon wish list.

    Stumbled.

  2. Thanks Joshua. These are all books I had recommended to me but never herd of otherwise, yet they all were so good I was shocked that I hadn’t herd of them previously.

    Let me know which ones you liked when you get a chance to read them.

    ross
  3. i suggest The Design of Sites.

  4. I haven’t read that one Sir Jorge, thanks for the recommendation. Looks interesting.

    ross
  5. Wow, finally a positive review of my book. I am happy now. 🙂

    My faves to add: “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug and “Web Standards Solutions” by Dan Cederholm.

  6. Hey cool recommendations I defiantly will look into some of those books, Especially the mastering HTML one. Here are a few books of related topic that I would recommend reading: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide By David Flanagan, and Build your own web site the right way using HTML and CSS by Ian Lloyd

  7. @Chris – I loved your book. I am a huge fan of both those books, but felt they get a lot of mentions. This post was more of a “hidden gems” sorta post, but thanks for the feedback and recommendations!

    @Tom – Thanks for the two suggestions, I have scanned through the book by Ian Lloyd but will have to check out the javascript book as well.

    ross
  8. The Information Architecture book is definitely a must-read for anyone – both desigers and developers. Not understanding even basic IA would be like trying to build a house without first studying the purpose of the project (how many rooms there, how large the real estate is, plumbing and sewage, etc.)

    Kudos for recommending it.

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  10. Thanks for the list, I’m just in the process of getting some great books on web design/development.

    Ivan Nikolic
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  12. Good stuff! I really love these hidden gems you post 🙂 Already added a few to my wish list, soo excited when I get them!

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  14. I can personally attest the Information Architecture and Building Accessible Websites are great books. Joe Clark in particular is a fantastic writer, and approaches the topic from a pragmatic angle, even recommending which accessibility tactics to avoid. It’s just a really great book.

    Also, since I am the Kevin Potts from book #1, I have to heartily recommend that one as well. Buy one for your clients. They will appreciate it.

  15. Thanks Kevin,

    I agree Joe Clark’s book is really well written and makes a strong case for accessibility. It sounds dry but it is quite entertaining to read.

    I would say buy two copies of your book, one for the clients and one for yourself. I refer back to mine a lot of times when I am looking for good backup on why/why not to build a site the way a client might be suggesting.

    ross
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  17. Great list. Thank you! HOWEVER, what criteria are these books based on? I’d love to read a few, but it would help on what basis they’re better than the many others that are out there (by well-known and non-web-celebrity authors alike).

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  19. Very useful list of books. I should have all of them in my bookshelf!

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