Book recommendations

Paul Boag

One of the most common questions I get emailed with is “what book would you recommend for XXX”. As I find myself continually recommending the same set I thought I would post a list of them here.

Update: Just a quick note to say that I have updated this post with some new books and will try and continue to do so in the future. Please note that this list only contains books I have personally read so bear in mind there maybe better books out there :) If you can’t be bothered to periodically check back then you can always subscribe to my booklist feed on delicious

Build your own website the right way using HTML and CSS

This snappily named book is written by Ian Lloyd (of and is perfect for those starting out in web design. This book will teach you how to build websites from scratch. No previous knowledge required. What is more, as the title says, it shows you how to build them "the right way". A refreshing change when compared to most web design books out there.

Buy Build your own website the right way at Amazon

The Zen of CSS Design

This book is basically made up of a series of case studies based on designs found at CSS Zen Gardens. In my opinion it is ideal for developers who are trying to improve the quality of design on their sites. The book is a mixture of CSS tips and design advice.

Buy the Zen of CSS Design at Amazon

CSS Mastery, Advanced Web Standards Solutions

Andy Budd’s book is perfect for those of us who have been using web standards for a while. We know the basics and are looking for advice to make us more efficient in our coding. This book is packed with all of the techniques you would expect plus some extra tip bits that make you slap your forehead and wonder why you never thought of doing things that way.

Buy CSS Mastery, Advanced Web Standards Solutions from Amazon

DOM Scripting

Jeremy Keith gives Javascript a new lick of paint, calls it DOM Scripting and blows your mind with its potential. If you are a designer who has always shied away from Javascript then this book is a must read. Jeremy teaches you Javascript from the ground up and then shows you just how much it can enhance your design.

Buy DOM Scripting from Amazon

DHTML Utopia: Modern Web Design Using Javascript & DOM

If you already know the basics of Javascript then Stuart Langridge’s book is probably a better bet than DOM Scripting. Stuart teaches you all the latest techniques of unobtrusive Javascript and throws in a bit of AJAX for good measure. Probably a bit heavy going for your average designer but easy fodder for you hard core developers.

Buy DHTML Utopia from Amazon

Designing with Web Standards

If you need convincing about all of this web standards rubbish then Zeldman’s book is for you. This book will give you the history of web design and explain why we have ended up designing with tables. It explains why web standards rock and then gives you a whistle stop tour of the basics. A must read for anybody starting out in web standards.

Buy Design with Web Standards from Amazon

Web standards Solutions

Of course once Zeldman has convinced you of the value of standards and got you doing the basics, you are going to want to get into the details. That is where Dan Cederholm‘s book comes in. This handbook covers every conceivable area of CSS based design and shows you all the tips and techniques. You will find yourself thumbing through it regularly.

Buy Web Standards Solutions from Amazon

Getting things done

This book has nothing much to do with web design but I would high recommend it anyway. Getting Things Done provides great advice about organizing your life to make your more efficient both at home and at work. Also a lot of what he covers is directly relevant to running successful web projects.

By Getting Things Done from Amazon

Laws of Simplicity

Again not directly about web design but invaluable none the less. This book talks about simplicity in life, in work and in design. The principles laid out in this book are a template for good design. If you design user interfaces you should read this book.

Buy The Laws of Simplicity from Amazon

Bulletproof AJAX

I think the best way to describe this book is as the sequel to DOM Scripting. Where DOM Scripting taught designers Javascript, Bulletproof AJAX takes you the next step on. I have to say if you have read DOM Scripting there is a lot of repetition in this book but nevertheless it is worth the money

Buy “Bulletproof Ajax” (Jeremy Keith) from Amazon

Don’t make me think

If I could recommend a single web design book then I think it would be this one by Steve Krug. Zeldman’s book on Web Standards is a close runner but this book covers the fundamentals of user centric design. You learn why usability testing is so important and are even taken through the processes of running a session. It is down to earth, practical and at times very entertaining.

Buy “Dont Make Me Think” at Amazon

Prioritizing web usability

Jakob Nielsen can be a bit full of his own self importance at times but he definitely knows his stuff. If you can work through the first chapter where he tells the world how clever he is then you will find a very valuable resource with lots of real world examples.

Buy “Prioritizing Web Usability” (Jakob Nielsen) at Amazon

The Tipping point

The Tipping point is not about web design but is a must read anyway. It talks about the concept of ideas and products going viral. How do some products or trends suddenly spread like wildfire? How do you make that happen? It discusses how small changes can have a big impact. Its invaluable to web designers because it shows how reaching the right audience and presenting information in the right way can have a profound impact on the success of your website.

Buy “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” (Malcolm Gladwell) at Amazon

Mobile web design

This book takes the principles of web standards and applies them to the mobile web. Cameron Moll discusses the different approaches to taking the web mobile from doing nothing to creating mobile specific websites. The book really does tell you everything you need to know to start building mobile websites in only 100 pages.

Buy “Mobile Web Design” (Cameron Moll)