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Books - A Source of Offline Inspiration

Even though you can find a great deal of information on almost any topic online, most folks don't sit down and read a 500 page website, no matter how user-friendly it is. The truth of the matter - when people want an in-depth knowledge of any subject, they prefer to sit down with the printed page than read it on a screen. Reading on the screen is far more fatiguing to the eyes, a good reason to keep the amount of text per web page to 500 - 700 word maximum. And another good reason to have printer-friendly versions of your web pages as well - so that your readers can print of any pages they would like to review off-line.

There are many fine resources in print for web design. I'll focus on the ones that provide some inspiration also, not just a clinical 'how-to'.

Books Web Design Books (making a beautiful design)

Web Usability Books (making a beautiful design that your users are happy with too)

Web Design & Idea Books

1.) The Design of Sites: Patterns for Creating Winning Web Sites (2nd Edition)
by Douglas K. van Duyne (Author), James A. Landay (Author), Jason I. Hong (Author)
From Amazon.com: "After a comprehensive tutorial covering the foundations of good Web site design, you will move on to discover the thirteen major Web design pattern groups. These patterns solve recurring design problems and help design teams avoid reinventing the wheel. Patterns range from creating a solid navigation framework and the all-important home page, to instilling trust and building credibility with your customers and improving site performance through better design."

This book should help you reduce your development time, because it helps you increase your awareness that there are basic web design structures common throughout all websites and for sites that serve particular purposes. Highly recommended!

2.) Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design (Voices That Matter)
by Andy Clarke (Author), Molly E. Holzschlag (Author), Aaron Gustafson (Technical Editor), Mark Boulton (Technical Editor)
A book for designers who want to take their performance to new heights. Definitely not for the beginner designer, this book is intended for an audience with some experience and presupposes html / css knowledge. But that being said, there is so much in this book to fuel creativity, and this book also presents a solid case for the fine art of blending html and css into websites that are not only functional, but beautiful and satisfying experientially as well. This is not a "how-to" book, it's a "why-to" book.

3.) Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics
by Jennifer Niederst Robbins (Author), Aaron Gustafson (Technical Editor)
Are you a new designer? Want a comprehensive guide to making websites? This guide could be the book you're looking for. Here's a quote about the book: "The book is structured as four parts. The first is an overview, explaining the Web design process. Next comes an HTML tutorial. The third part is a detailed guide to Web graphics. The final section is about usability and design." The bottom line: you get a little bit of everything in a clear and easy-to-use book. Recommended.

Web Usability Books

1.) Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (2nd Edition)
by Steve Krug (Author)
Still a best-seller, a no-nonsense read about how viewers interact with websites and how designers can make them more user-friendly. If you buy the book you can analyze which of Steve's rules I have broken on this site. Especially interesting - web usability testing never seemed so understandable until I read this book. If you can only buy one book, choose this one.

2.) Prioritizing Web Usability
by Jakob Nielsen (Author), Hoa Loranger (Author)
By the grand-daddy of web usability, the follow-up book to "Designing Web Usability, a classic. The first book offered solid usability guidelines and sets out many of the design concepts web designers would be wise to follow. In this updated book, we follow along as a whole bunch of sites are taken through user testing. and subsequent chapters offer much practical examples of how to make your sites more valuable to your users. A must-read really, even if you think you already know everything about websites. There's nothing like seeing your site through someone else's eyes to get a feel for how straightforward (or how difficult) it is to use.

3.) The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web
by Jesse James Garrett (Author)
A sentence from the back cover: "Having the best content and the most sophisticated technology won't help you balance those goals if you don't integrate them within a coherent, consistent user experience." What goals are 'those goals' you ask? - meeting the stategic needs of your organization while making your users happy. It remains a good read - check it out.

Designer's Tip: I know that saying this may seem obvious, but when you work online all the time you can have a tendency to forget: many of these resources can be borrowed from your local public library! You don't have to buy them!


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