Reading List for Web Developers

Why a Reading List?

I love reading. I am a researcher at heart so when I set out to define a 'great site', I decided to starting researching. Turns out there are a lot of books and articles and Web sites to read. You have to read books on Web site writing, programming, usability, design, page layout, and lots of other stuff. Since I like to read anything I can get my hands on, I started to read all the books that were currently on a recommendation list.

To truly understand the field of web design and development, you should read some or all of the key books in web development and design.

I recommend the O'Reilly's Online learning platform. With over 40,000 books and videos, I find myself using this site anytime I need to read a tech book. The iOS app works great too!

Why not just use Google?

Clearly then it would make more sense to just search for information on this topic. The web can provide a list of key individuals who have a strong web presence in the field. The web presence (by presence I mean their Web site, any RSS feeds, online articles, listservers, etc) of these key individuals is vast.

But the internet is a vast place and without a clear map or road guide you can easily loose focus. There is lots of material to follow but you have to work hard to stay on top.

Oddly enough, in practice the internet itself falls short of providing a true understanding of web design and development because it is the web. The constant change provides doubt; suggests that perhaps that Web site might not be there tomorrow. What if someone updates something?

A book once published is more permanent. Web sites are more fluid with updates taking only moments and at little cost.

Books are Road Maps

The books are the road map because all you have to do is lookup the list of authors using your favourite search engine.

Best of all, the books also provide a snapshot. The words are frozen and unchanging in a book. Since the web is constantly evolving, web design and development is in a constant state of flux. Books are a window into the past because the demonstrate key techniques, illustrate past ideas, and show us how the internet was made.

Knowledge and experience over the last decade or more has taught us the value of Web standards. Guidelines and best practices have emerged amidst the change.

Code

Design

  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People by Susan Weinschenk
  • CSS Web Site Design
  • CSS Secrets: Better Solutions to Everyday Web Design Problems by Lea Verou
  • Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty by David Kadavy
  • Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us Into Temptation by Chris Nodder
  • More Eric Meyer on CSS
  • Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences by Stephen Anderson
  • The Principles of Beautiful Web Design
  • The Zen of CSS Design
  • Transcending CSS
  • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte
  • Web Design in a Nutshell
  • Web ReDesign 2.0

Software Development

  • Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning by Dan Brown
  • Submit Now
  • The Best Interface Is No Interface: The Simple Path to Brilliant Technology by Golden Krishna
  • Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design by Robert Hoekman Jr
  • Don't Make Me Think
  • Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham
  • I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains by Chuck Klosterman
  • Just Enough Research by Erika Hall
  • Think First
  • The Design of Sites: Patterns, Principles, and Processes for Crafting a Customer-Centered Web Experience
  • Why Software Sucks by David Platt
  • Web Application Hacker's Handbook

Why Read Books?

Reading books shows there are also common practices or guidelines in the field. These guidelines exist for a reason, they were created out the chaos of the past decade or more of web design and development. These guidelines that provide a framework around which we develop Web sites.

I am still adding to the list but I want to make sure I have read the material and would recommend the item first before I include them.

Sources

These recommendation lists proved hard to find. Here are other people's lists of books to read.

web design creative process

Just to let you know, this page was last update Jun 12, 2018.