This is a pretty old blog from 2013. However, I’m keeping it on here as many of these books are still as relevant now as they were 10 years ago!
Good books for web designers
I am a huge fan of design books, and I have put together the ones I have turned to the most or enjoyed reading the most. I often find myself browsing online and reading articles about web design and new techniques which is very handy. But I love to have a small selection of books on hand to flick through when I’m having a break. There are books you turn to when you need some inspiration and there are also books you turn to as a reference point and checklist. I have included in the selected ones on web design and also on graphic design and printing. I haven’t included the books I use for coding advice or the more technical aspects of web design. That’s another post!!
DON’T MAKE ME THINK – STEVE KRUG
It is a bit of an oldie now, yet still 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.”
INTERACTIVE DESIGN – ANDY PRATT AND JASON NUNESH
This book is all about designing for screen-based experiences. Whatever screen that may be! This book is perfect for improving the design process, collaborating with your clients, and telling stories through design. It has some great case studies and it is designed so it is 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 are consistent across all.F
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.”
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 consistent 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.
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 refering 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.
APPETITE FOR DESIGN – VICTION:ARY
This book is focused on packaging and branding for food and is a brilliant book. 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 focused 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-around beautiful book! When hunting for inspiration it is always good to move out of the marketplace 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 a really strong brand identity.
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 yet the information isn’t out of date. The layout of the book itself I am not a big fan of, but mainly as I don’t like the use of the gothic font! However, 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 textbook with some great chapters including the ‘Romance of Type Design’ and “the Limelight of the Layout.”
MATERIALS, PROCESS AND PRINT – DANIEL MASON
Creative solutions for Graphic Design and this is exactly what it is. Printers often 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.
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 refering to and making sure you have a good client relationship and how to achieve that. I would recommend it to any freelancer not just those working in web design.