Books that have changed my “web design” life

No, no. Nothing from Oprah’s Book Club. I want to share my list of books on the web that have really made an impact on my web design life. They have educated and inspired me. These are the books that I personally own and find myself constantly telling others about. I hope viewers of this blog will find it useful.

Web Design

Bulletproof Web DesignBulletproof Web Design by Dan Cederholm
This book changed me from a CSS layout supporter, but troubled executor to a CSS fanatic. Author Dan Cederholm of SimpleBits fame nails tableless, CSS design with this step-by-step process for leveraging standards-based CSS layouts effectively. If you’ve ever been stuck with aspects of CSS layout, this is the reference and inspiration for you.

Web Design for ROI Web Design for ROI: Turning Browsers into Buyers & Prospects into Leads by Lance Loveday and Sandra Niehaus
What is the point of designing a pretty site when it doesn’t meet your business goals? Follow the pointers in this book and start meeting and exceed the business’s return on investment for the project.

The Zen of CSS DesignThe Zen of CSS Design: Visual Enlightenment for the Web by Dave Shea and Molly E. Holzschlag
Fans of the CSS Zen Garden can rejoice with this coffee table / reference / inspiration book. It features dozens of examples from the site, describing in depth some of the techniques used to deliver these beautiful and innovative designs. If you’ve enjoyed the website and looked at the code, but would appreciate some in-depth explanation from two experts in the field, this book is for you.

The Principles of Beautiful Web DesignThe Principles of Beautiful Web Design by Jason Beaird
If you’re without a background or degree in graphic design, consider this book. The Principles of Beautiful Web Design covers all the basics of graphic design as it applies to web design. Concise and thorough, the book features beautiful illustrations, color images and screenshots. A must for those who wish to create effective designs.

A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web GraphicsLearning Web Design: A Beginner’s Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics by Jennifer Niederst Robbins and Aaron Gustafson
For beginners, I highly recommend this book, which covers, in detail, every aspect of designing a site. From how to start, through HTML and CSS, expert guidance on effective web graphics, to wrapping up with the entire process through development and getting online, this book covers it all. As one reviewer put it, “I wish I had this book when I started.”

The Design of Sites The Design of Sites: Patterns for Creating Winning Web Sites (2nd Edition) by Douglas K. van Duyne, James A. Landay, and Jason I. Hong
Web patterns are chunks of best practices in web design. Want to know the most effective way to implement site search, or a product page? Looking to implement tabbed navigation, but don’t know the most effective direction? This book will provide examples of some of the best implementations around.

Designing with Web StandardsDesigning with Web Standards (2nd Edition) by Jeffrey Zeldman
There was an apparent trend a few years ago to feature partial heads on book covers (as you see from this and the following book). However, that does not diminish the importance or value of this book, penned by the founder of The Web Standards Project. In this second edition, Mr. Zeldman covers the need for standards, the future opportunities and present-day workarounds, such as image replacement. This is the web standards bible.

The Art and Science of Web DesignThe Art and Science of Web Design by Jeffrey Veen
This was one of the first books that “got me going” in web design, specifically, the way to approach the design of sites. The chapter on object-oriented publishing, for a non-developer, is worth the price of the book alone. Slightly dated now, but at the least, try to pick up a copy at your local library.

Web Usability

Don't Make Me Think Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition by Steve Krug
This is a required reference for anyone interested in web usability. Mr. Krug has created the must-read book, filled with sensible approaches and a bit of humor. Instead of volumes of “what’s usable, what’s not,” you’ll find ways to approach your designs that will organically make them more usable. There’s also a good primer on usability testing.

Designing Web Sites that Work (Interactive Technologies) Usability for the Web: Designing Web Sites that Work (Interactive Technologies) by Tom Brinck, Darren Gergle, and Scott D. Wood
Similar to “The Design of Sites” (above) in tone and format, this reference provides many best practices regarding usability for the web. A solid winner in my library.

Search Engine Optimization and Marketing

The Online Copywriter's HandbookThe Online Copywriter’s Handbook : Everything You Need to Know to Write Electronic Copy That Sells by Robert W. Bly
So why start a list of Search Engine Marketing & Optimization book with an online copy writing book, you ask?. Simply put, you have to know to write well to optimize and market well. Robert Bly’s standard covers the the fundamentals of persuasive online copy (i.e. gain attention, focus on customer/audience, emphasize benefits, differentiate from competition, prove your case, establish credibility, build value, close with call to action and reason to act now). An affordable and valuable read to create a foundation for your online marketing expertise.

Driving Search Traffic to Your Company's Web SiteSearch Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Web Site by Mike Moran and Bill Hunt
This is the encyclopedia of Search Engine Marketing. Everything is covered here, and most is still current. Covers both from the optimization (organic) and marketing (paid) aspects. The book is chock full of best practices, tips, and cost-saving measures from two of the world’s premier experts on search engine marketing.

 Search Engine Optimization For Dummies, Second Edition Search Engine Optimization For Dummies, Second Edition by Peter Kent
If you’re just starting out with Search Engine optimization and haven’t a clue where to begin, this dummies book is just the answer. The book explains the basics; how to optimize safely, without trendy spam technique. It also touches upon the benefits of pay per click. A great 101 reference.

Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing For Dummies Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing For Dummies by Peter Kent
Mr. Kent is at it again, this time covering the vast, and sometime complex world of Pay Per Click. The book will show you how the various pay per click systems work, like Google Adwords, how best to approach creating your campaigns, as well as to manage them as they begin to grow larger. A good read before you begin.

Web Standards SEO and BeyondBuilding Findable Websites: Web Standards SEO and Beyond by Aarron Walter
I stumbled across this book a few weeks ago and it has been at my side ever since. Besides tons of best practices and workarounds to typical stumbling blocks, this book takes a different approach, covering content, it’s semantic structure, the coding used to deliver it and some newer techniques for driving traffic to your site, such as blogging, RSS feeds and site search.

Search Engine AdvertisingSearch Engine Advertising: Buying Your Way to the Top to Increase Sales by Catherine Seda
This is another great title on paid search from the diva of Internet Marketing. Covers everything paid search; the established practices and some not-so-known techniques. Catherine present her information in a seminar style. Sit back, relax (in a more comfortable chair than those at conferences), and enjoy this nice read packed with information.

 How to Win Sales & Influence SpidersHow to Win Sales & Influence Spiders: Boosting Your Business & Buzz on the Web by Catherine Seda
Ms. Seda’s follow-up to her first book covers Internet Marketing on a whole. Something that is not covered in details in other books is promotion & public relations. The book goes into detail how press releases and other medium can not only aid in people finding you and your online presence, but build up links into your site, which aids in your search engine relevancy and ranking.

Web Analytics

Note: this topic is very important with regards to search engine optimization & marketing, as well as web usability. Also, I deliberately left off books specific to Google Analytics for one reason only. I’m leery of purchasing a book (which I’ve done) for a system that can (and has) changed dramatically, making any published work on the topic obsolete. If you can pick up an updated copy at your local library, definitely do so.

Proven Methods for Measuring Web Site Success Web Metrics: Proven Methods for Measuring Web Site Success by Jim Sterne
This title is an all encompassing look at Web Analytics; from the types of tools and techniques used for measurement, through to what to do with the data. The information provided will assist you in improving your site, whether it be for usability or marketing purposes.

A Marketer's Guide to Understanding How Your Web Site Affects Your BusinessWeb Analytics Demystified: A Marketer’s Guide to Understanding How Your Web Site Affects Your Business by Eric Peterson
A great primer, Web Analytics Demystified provides background around the different types of collecting information (log files vs. on-page JavaScript) and their prod/cons. It then explains how to interpret the information once you have it available. A must have.

Tips & Tools to Help Optimize Your Online Business (Hacks)Web Site Measurement Hacks: Tips & Tools to Help Optimize Your Online Business by Eric Peterson
Attention all you techies, developers and hackers. This is the book for you. Not only does this book cover the basics of web site analytics and measurement, it also provides suggestions on ways to build systems that can collect data to determine how effective your site is. The scripts mentioned can be implemented directly on your site, as long as you have total access to. Kool to non-techies, way kool to techies.

Note: Throughout this post, I’ve provided links to for the books mentioned. These links allow you, the blog reader, to purchase the books at, if you so desire. The links are tagged with my Amazon Associate code, which allows me to earn affiliate income from the sales of books I promote. The purpose of this post was not to monetize, but to share. While I have monetized, I have not altered my opinion of these books for the sake of monetization. ‘nough said.


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