I have included a mixture of books from design psychology and theory to typeface and printing
I am a huge fan of design books, and I have put together the ones I have consider good books for web designers, and a few for print designers. There are books I turn to when you looking for some inspiration or as a reference point and checklist. I have tried to include a mixture of books from design psychology and theory to typeface and printing – not too heavy but informative and good reads!
1. Don’t Make Me Think – Steve Krug
Of all the good books for web designers … this one is the classic. It an oldie, yet there are revised editions so very relevant. This is one I often bring out for clients when showing why I have made a particular design decision. Especially when I need to explain why I am taking things away from the website rather than adding! With websites they work only when they are functional as well as looking nice. This book outlines the functionality, why some layouts work and others never will. How users go through the website and why they may get lost. The key is in the title that the user should never have to think very much. It is our job as a web designer to make the journey as simple as possible through the site.
FAVOURITE QUOTE “..Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.’
2. Interactive Design – Andy Pratt and Jason Nunesh
This book is all about designing for screen-based experiences. Whatever screen that maybe! This book is perfect for improving design process, collaborating with your clients and telling stories through design. It has some great case studies and it is designed so it easy to dip in and out when you get to different stages of each project. It is very focused on designing for all screen sizes and making sure the design and message is consistent across all. I think we all try and work on our design process and this book gives clarity on what some of those processes should be.
FAVOURITE QUOTE “A great experience has a clear goal. Different devices prompt different design decisions to accomplish it, but the goal should always remain consistent.’
3. Designing Brand Identity – Alina Wheeler
I use this as more of a toolkit / checklist when I am designing brand identity. Does the logo work across all formats are the colours consistant and what is the mission of the brand. It is great to refer to when writing proposals and guidelines almost as a checklist. The case studies are interesting as the strategy, solution and results are listed for each one. It’s not as inspirational as other books, but the core information is there and it is great to refer to again and again. We all need to adhere to brand guidelines so it is good to understand them.
4. Smashing UX Design – Jesmond Allen and James Chudley
I have found it difficult to find an engaging UX book. I have read a few which are quite difficult reads and therefore hard to take in all the information. This is the best one I have read so far and it is from smashing magazine – a resource I refer to often. Again, it is more of tool kit to keep referring to in order to check that you have met the goals of your project. It focuses on the UX practices and principles and basically deconstructs websites. It’s a reference manual which I would highly recommend when designing websites across devices.
5.Appetite for Design – Viction:ary
This book is focused on packaging and branding for food and is a brilliant book. It is good for website inspiration rather than web design technique. Firstly it looks lovely with the printing techniques they have used and the corners cut out as if they have been bitten. The front cover also has a waffle effect. The whole book is so nicely designed and tactile. It is focussed on food and has some case studies which you don’t stumble across online, and they really are full of personality and visually pleasing. It’s simply and all round beautiful book! When hunting for inspiration it is always good to move out of the market place you are working in, hence why I refer to this. The branding case studies shown in here really do go past the logo to show really strong brand identity.
6.Printing Design and Layout – Vincent Steer
I recently brought this book from an antique market. Such a good find! It smells old and it is old. It is written by the founder of The British Typographers Guild in 1934 . If looking to find out more about the history and development of typefaces and their uses, this is an interesting read. Books like ‘Just my Type’ are really interesting books on typography and the stories behind the typefaces. This is more of a text book with some great chapters including the ‘Romance of Type Design’ and “the Limelight of the Layout.”
7.Materials, Process and Print – Daniel Mason
Not one for web designers but one of my favourite books ever. Creative solutions for Graphic Design and this is exactly what it is. Printers usually say you should think about the print process even before you start designing and I believe this to be true. This is the perfect book to take to the printer when you are initially thinking up possibilities. I have often lugged this around!! It covers printing techniques with great examples. Most of the examples are for higher budget projects and you can be inspired and learn about the process and possibilities. This is particularly handy when sourcing materials and making yourself aware of printing techniques and materials. The intro alone is worth a read before embarking on a project.
8.Design is a Job – Mike Montiero
When you are a freelance web designer you are often working alone and wondering if the whole world has gone mad or if you are having the same issues as everyone else. This book helps you realise your issues are not exclusive and how to solve them. It is mainly outlining how to be good at your job as a designer and how to make a living from it. It is not for people just starting out, it is a good book to keep referring to and making sure you have a good client relationship and how to achieve that. I would recommend to any freelancer not just those working in web design.
9.100 things every designer needs to know about people – Susan m weinschenk
More and more web designers are encourage to learn more about psychology. This becomes more and more a necessity with UX design. Joe Leech’s book ‘Psychology for Designers’ comes as an ebook and is a great starting point for this subject. This book tells you more about the user – who should always be at the centre of your design. I don’t think this book is the most advanced, it really reinforces what you already know as a designer, but it never hurts to refresh!!
10. Webs of Influence – Nathalie Nahai
Here we have stuck to the psychology again. This one is more if you are looking for success selling online. Its a nice read, perfect for tube and train journeys. I don’t find myself referring back to it so to speak – but I did find all the information extremely insightful. Its never going to do a web designer harm to learn the power of persuasion! As Natalie says in her book “When it comes to websites, success boils down to to just two things: who will be using your website and why. ” There are a few more psychology books I would add to this list, one of them being ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by Danile Kahneman – I didn’t find this to be the easiest read, its pretty hard going. But it delves deeper into ‘understanding how and why we make the choices we make.’
11. Responsive Web Design – Ethan Marcotte
This was the first book I read when I started designing responsive sites. Do not buy the french version by accident. The great thing about this whole range of books from A Book Apart is that they come as ebooks so aren’t too expensive. This particular book is a good resource for thinking beyond desktop. Fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries if these come up in your daily life then have a read. Ethan’s website is also well worth a visit – often.