Web design is one of the most fun jobs or hobbies that anyone can have. There are several ways that you can learn to design a website. You can take a class at a local university or take a class online. It is also something that you can teach yourself if you have the time and self-awareness to dedicate yourself to the process. There are several videos that you can watch online, you can buy books, read blogs, use forums, etc. There are a plethora of opportunities, but one of the best starting points is to buy a book or two, sit down and start reading.
The amount of books are endless, but below are five of the best books for learning web design.
HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites
Written by Jon Duckett, this book covers both HTML and CSS. The book is rather large at almost 500 pages, but is very well laid out and structured in a way that anyway can read from newcomers to those that need a little bit of a refresher. The book gives a very nice introduction of the web, how websites are created, what a programming language is and more specifically what HTML and CSS are.
The book is organized in a very logical order covering the structure of code and then introduces you to the fundamentals of HTML such as text, lists, links, images, tables, etc. He even dives into Flash and video, which most books do not do at this level. After that he introducers readers to CSS and then walks you through everything else you can do with the use of CSS. HTML 5 is also an added chapter in his latest addition as this is the newest HTML version.
Every chapter includes specific examples with code that he relates back to the text. He also provides useful references online. The book is up-to-date with vivid images and color. It is an easy read that does not leave you confused. It is also not one of those books that is pure text. He provides you with practical information so that you learn about websites, the design of websites, what works and does not work, what makes a website attractive, SEO analytics and the process of getting your website online.
In essence it is an all in one book, not just a code learning book. He uses all 500 pages to teach you everything you need to know about HTML, CSS, web design and web development.
Learning Web Design: A Beginner’s Guide
This book is definitely not as easy to read and follow as some, but the book does have some exercises and examples to try at the end of each chapter. Then there are tests that you can take for each chapter that allow you to gauge your level of understanding.
Designing with Web Standards
This book is written by Jeffery Zeldman and is far from a beginner’s book. He takes his experiences and vision of the World Wide Web and created a book of standards for web design. The first part of the book focuses on what was done in the past and how much code was used to get a site up and running. He does not like the design practices that were used and believes that a lot of websites waste bandwidth.
The next part of his book provides solutions to these problems. He provides explanations of how to streamline XHTML and CSS with better coding practices and standards. He provides a lot of tips for how to use code that is compatible with multiple browsers without making the code overly cumbersome.
The book is basically a current-day standard of what is professionally acceptable as a developer of web design.
Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Steve Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think is exactly what it says, a book focused on the user’s ability to get through your website without having to think. As Steve points out in his book this starts from the home page to navigation and onto content. His goal in this book is to make sure you, as the developer, understand that it is your job to develop a website that is very easy for the user to understand. It should be very obvious and intuitive so that they do not have to think to get through the site.
The first section of chapters of this book go over the guidelines of usability. This includes what users use the web for, how much users actually read, and why users like mindless choices. The next set of chapters Steve goes over what you need to do to ensure your website is designed to the user’s specification. He also has a chapter about user testing and how important it is. The last set of chapters addresses those outside concerns that you may have no control over and what you can do to regain some control.
This book is very good for beginners on up to experienced developers because it does not cover anything that is overly confusing. It is the idea and the concept that is the most important aspect that readers should grasp. Everyone that is designing a website needs to understand this. Although there are technical terms, it is a very easy book to understand and a great starting point for new developers.
CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions
CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions is written by Andy Budd. It is a very well written book that is not necessarily for a fresh beginner, it is for professionals that want to refresh their skills on CSS and web design. The book is designed to help you spice up your web page, not design a new web page.
With that said, the first chapter is an initial recap of what is needed and required. The book then dives into visual formatting, background images and image replacement. These are tricks to add background images to text boxes and dropdowns. These tricks just give the website a bit more flare. The next set of chapters are focused on link styling, table styling and form styling. This includes underlining links, highlighting links, rollovers, etc. Styling of tables and forms included colors, text, etc. Next, CSS layouts are discussed with floats, scalable layouts, background images, etc. Some of these chapters seem to go a little too fast with the amount of data that needs to be consumed and understood.
At the end of the book a chapter about identifying bugs and how to fix them is introduced. This seems to be a very influential chapter and is highly important to all developers. Last, the book does provide case studies for readers to enjoy. Real life case studies of web sites that are live. You get to read about their experiences while also seeing what their final product is. Pretty neat.
Whether you are just getting started as a new developer or are have been writing web design for a while, all of these books are great. They either provide a nice foundation or a great refresher for what is important in the World Wide Web. There are several other books out there that are just as effective as these. It is up to you to decide how you best learn, what your level of knowledge already is and what type of book you are looking for. Good luck and enjoy learning!