Practical Reading - the nuts and bolts

None of these books are required reading for getting through the class, though some of them would probably be helpful. If you actually plan on designing for the web for a living, you really ought to read at least 2 of them. If even that sounds too onerous, at least memorize the titles and recommend them frequently, and people will think you know what you're talking about.

    User-Centered Web Design,

    Cato's thought-provoking book looks carefully at the notion of design, and effectively draws from a disparate number of fields. Ultimately, his experience and perspective will help you focus on the end product and its intended user. I recommend this book highly; I think it's the best on the market for helping ground the fledging designer, and will explore new perspectives for the seasoned veteran. A must read.


    John Cato

    Effective Web Design,


    Ann Navarro

    Designing Web Usability : The Practice of Simplicity,

    Many consider Nielsen to be the authority on web design. I personally tend to disagree with his approach as being geared towards the lowest common denominator, and towards the functional in lieu of the aesthetic, but it's good to have many perspectives, and the book has a great deal of practical examples and valuable design considerations.


    Jakob Nielsen

    Web Design in a Nutshell,

    An excellent book for the beginner, or someone new to the web and design for the web, this book is a good basic reference on how to get by.


    Jennifer Niederst

    Information Architecture for the World Wide Web,

    A good, occasionally funny, very practical book on the basics of architecting information, and the web; considered by many to be a required textbook. If you're going to buy one book on how to design web sites (from a site perspective, not a graphics perspective), this is it.


    Louis Rosenfeld

    Creating Killer Web Sites,

    Siegel's book, now in its 2nd addition, is a classic on style and effective web design. He has a strong emphasis on aesthetics, using technology as an enabler rather than as a dictator of effective design. A great introduction to the do's and don'ts of web design.


    David Siegel

    The Art & Science of Web Design,

    The man behind Wired and Webmonkey. Given that webmonkey is a excellent online place to learn about the mechanics of the web, expect more of the same on paper.


    Jeffrey Veen

    Designing Web Graphics,

    If you want one book on how to make sense of graphics, formats, downloading, and the tech beneath web graphics, this is it.


    Lynda Weinman

    O'Reilly Publishing

    O'Reilly publishes some of the best technical design and development books around. Written by well known technical and design professionals, they are the reference and textbooks of the information industry. Whatever the subject, if it's technical, they have book on it.

    If you're specifically looking for books on anything related to security, they are the best place to go on the web, bar none.


    O'Reilly Publishing


Abstract Reading - how it all works

These are the kind of books that you will either find so profound they'll change your entire sense of design, if not of life; or they will make your brain hurt really badly.

Some people like peanut m&m's, and some like 'em plain.

    The Timeless Way of Building,

    Ostensibly a book on architecture, it is both itself a beautifully designed thing, and a beautifully done book on the process of design. Many designers in many fields consider it their bible.


    Christopher Alexander

    Alan Turing: Enigma,

    This is not a book on design, but rather a biography on the father of computing, which is related in a historical sense.


    Scott Andrews

    Extreme Programming,

    A new way to think about application development, that combines pre-defined test modules with small teams in rapid iterative development cycles.


    Kent Beck

    Gödel, Escher, Bach

    Numbers, computers, logic, games, conundrums, artificial intelligence, music, art - more than anything, it's a book on mind. A must read.


    Douglas R. Hofstader

    Understanding Media,

    He understood that all media is but an extension of ourselves, he was an icon in the 60's, in some ways predicted the internet, and coined the term "global village." He should rightly be the patron saint of the internet. A wonderful eye-opener, if sometimes opaque.


    Marshall McLuhan

    The Design of Everyday Things,

    A great book by one of the leaders behind all things Macintosh on thinking out the hows and whys of the things we use.


    Donald A. Norman

    In the Beginning was the Command Line,

    Absolutely hysterical, and a wonderful explanation of computers, operating systems, pointing & clicking, and the command line, both for those who know nothing about computers, and the techno-geek alike.


    Neil Stephenson

    Envisioning Information,
    Visual Explanations : Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative,
    The Visual Display of Quantitative Information,

    For my money, if you want one book about how to think visually, how to express many meanings so they can easily be read, Envisioning Information is it. And everything by Tufte is excellent reading (and looking).


    Edward R. Tufte

    Language and Art in the Navajo Universe,

    OK - I realize this seems like a real stretch on this list. Witherspoon does an incredible job first of explicating how the Navajo conceive of the universe and themselves in relation to it, and secondly, implicitly, how completely differently another culture's thinking can be from one's own. When you're designing, you're thinking about communication; so, understanding the possible distance your message might have to travel is invaluable. There's no better way to learn about your culture than to learn about someone else's.

    Besides, I think it's a great book.


    Gary Witherspoon

    Information Design,

    Wurman is another seminal information designer. This particular book is about the theory, culture, ethics and politics of being an information designer, as opposed to a "how-to" book, but an excellent read for the potential designer.


    Richard Saul Wurman




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