Favorite Web Design Books

Okay – I know this page will seem a bit “slanted” in favor of one publisher – SitePoint – but to be honest I really like the SitePoint web design books better than the others I’ve looked at or used. I’ve spent countless hours at my local Barnes & Noble reading stacks of web site design books (and drinking gallons of coffee), and I always wind up buying the SitePoint books – they are clear, well organized, nicely illustrated, and easy to follow, I’ve learned a great deal from them. I actually own and use every one of these SitePoint books listed below. Most of these are web design books, but a few at the bottom are programming books – still a needed skill in any good web design project. I hope you will find them useful as well.

SitePoint offers free sample chapters in downloadable PDF format, as well as the option of also purchasing a downloadable PDF version of their books (or instead of buying the hard copy for those who prefer just a PDF version).

  • The Usability Kit – The most important factor in the success of any business/eCommerce website is “can your site visitors actually use your site?” – understanding how to ensure that they can, and making your site as “usable” as possible, will dramatically increase your odds of success, critical if your site is designed to provide a revenue stream. This should be required reading for any serious Web Designer.   Sample Chapters
  • HTML Utopia: Designing Without Tables Using CSS (2nd Ed.) – An excellent primer on using CSS for the layout of your site instead of Tables, the benefit being faster loading sites, cleaner code, and much more flexibility in style and design. If you’re new to web design, or have been building sites (using tables) and now want to learn CSS, this is the web design book for you.    Sample Chapters
  • The Art and Science of CSS – this is a really terrific web design book – a bit more advanced CSS techniques that will have you producing gorgeous designs & layouts, with great examples, in an easy-to-follow format. I’ve only had this book a short while but I already LOVE it and have used a number of the new skills I’ve learned.   Sample Chapters
  • The Principles of Beautiful Web Design – Anyone who has looked at a lot of websites will instantly recognize a beautiful, professional, well laid-out design from those that are, well…not. Learn how to design web sites like an artist with this book – it contains everything from where and how to find inspiration, the exact science of a balanced layout, how to best utilize colors and typography, to the best way to incorporate photos and graphics – this is a must have web design book for every web designer. I re-read it before starting every single project.   Sample Chapters

SitePoint also offers a number of terrific books on a variety of programming languages and techniques – PHP, JavaScript, AJAX, MySQL, DHTML, XML, and much more. While you can certainly add more advanced functionality to any site using some of the free scripts that are widely available on the ‘net, I highly recommend learning enough fundamentals of these popular and useful languages that you can round out your web design skills, and at least be able to modify scripts that others have written (without breaking them :) ) even if you aren’t interested in writing your own from scratch.

Anyone who makes their living as a web designer will benefit from the great advice found in Delivering First Class Websites: 101 Essential Checklists, which I just love (and use all the time) because it helps me stay organized and focused on a project. (Sample Chapters)

And of course, if you’re interested in going the entrepreneur route and becoming a self-employed web designer, Sitepoint even has a book for that! It’s actually a Kit – the Web Design Business Kit (Sample Chapters) – that will help you build a successful web design business, and don’t forget the Search Engine Marketing Kit (Sample Chapters) – vital so that you can build the site right from the beginning with an eye to marketing online.

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