Website development reading list - on a vertical timeline

This is a vertical timeline presentation of the web development reading list, showing this profession’s extraordinary progress from a standing start in twenty years!

  • Design for Real Life by Eric Meyer & Sara Wachter-Boettcher

    2016

    Design for Real Life

    A fascinating insight into real-life design projects where inadvertent design blunders created stress-points. An unusual book about kindness and compassion in design and one that deserves a place on every designer's shelf.

  • Pricing Design by Dan Mall book cover screenshot

    2016

    Pricing Design

    A snappy introduction to pricing web projects, especially valuable for beginner freelancers. Replete with insight and specific about different industry pricing models. Take-away nugget: the price you charge for a website is based on the value you are providing to a client. The book's central case study examines this. From their inexpensive download-only Briefs series by my favourite web design publishers A Book Apart.

  • Beginning Backdrop CMS by Todd Tomlinson

    2016

    Beginning Backdrop CMS

    A detailed book that will be of value to those who are not familiar with Drupal. This caters for site-builders who want to install Backdrop and go and for those who want to roll their own code on top of a vanilla Backdrop installation. Just note that some of the authoring links are not from the current version of Backdrop, but these minor differences are navigable. This will help anyone get a Backdrop CMS website up and running.

  • Migrating from Drupal to Backdrop by Todd Tomlinson

    2015

    Migrating from Drupal to Backdrop

    This slim volume explains the basics of taking a Drupal 7 site and converting it into a Backdrop CMS site. It covers the fundamental architectural changes required to make D7 themes and modules function within the newer, lighter-weight Backdrop CMS. This is a clean introduction, but it would benefit from screenshots which are readable. (The author, a namesake, is no relation!)

  • Designing for Touch by Josh Clark

    2015

    Designing for Touch

    A detailed examination of the way that our sausage-fat fingers interact with pixels. This is an excellent discussion of the world of rectangular touch screens and the way in which we stretch, crumple, drag, flick aside, point, prod and swipe the pixels that they display. The best read for opening up this particular domain of design challenges - from my favourite publisher.

  • Responsible Responsive Design by Scott Jehl

    2014

    Responsible Responsive Design

    This builds on Ethan Marcotte's seminal Responsive Web Design by looking at the latest options available for delivering lightweight web pages to mobile, plan-constrained, users. It charts a nuanced path between serving pages to latest-generation browsers that support evolving standards and managing this in older ones where graceful fall-backs are required. This is a nice, clear read.

  • Web Standards: Mastering HTML5, CSS3 and XML, 2nd edition

    2014

    Web Standards: Mastering HTML5, CSS3 and XML, 2nd edition

    Web standards is a topic that recently seems to have been eclipsed in importance by more fashionable - or pressing - aspects of web design such as UX and responsiveness, so I was interested in seeing what take an Apress book published in 2014 had. Thankfully, the idea that you can - even should - start a project with the aim of the finished code conforming to web standards has not gone away. This volume reiterates this at every turn.

    If I were running a course on web technologies, I'd probably include this as a student text. It's exhaustive, detailed and authoritative. The index, however, could have had more substantial input.

  • On Web Typography by Jason Santa Maria

    2014

    On Web Typography

    This is the latest volume from my favourite web industry publisher of "brief books for people who build websites", A Book Apart, and I can't resist picking it up and re-reading parts of it. It starts with the reading process itself, moves through to the role played by typography, then covers evaluating typefaces and choosing and pairing them. This is authoritative stuff which is also a good read. Very, very informative.

  • You're My Favorite Client by Mike Monteiro

    2014

    You're My Favorite Client

    I had to persevere with this volume because it is more applicable to big agencies with big budget web projects, rather than the one-man-band work that I do. That said, there are valuable insights into client-designer relationships here that are applicable across the board. The author takes a novel approach in setting out to guide clients through the site-build process, which can reasonably be described as 'managing expectations'.

  • Mapping with Drupal - Navigating Complexities to Create Beautiful and Engaging Maps

    2012

    Mapping with Drupal - Navigating Complexities to Create Beautiful and Engaging Maps

    A clear and authoritative account of the options available for displaying sophisticated and elegant maps that integrate Drupal website content which has a geographical basis. Essential reading for getting Drupal data on the map!

  • Content Strategy for Mobile book cover

    2012

    Content Strategy for Mobile

    When the client view of your website shrinks, what happens to your content - and what needs to happen? This book addresses these two questions by examining the information architecture issues that have arisen from technological change in website viewing. Essential reading around a complex subject.

  • Drupal Search Engine Optimization

    2012

    Drupal Search Engine Optimization

    An appropriately slim account of how to capitalise on Drupal 7's already excellent abilities to deliver SEO-maxed websites. A quick summary of a complex subject.

  • Designing for Emotion

    2011

    Designing for Emotion

    A dream of a book by a well-respected web designer about what makes users 'fall in love' with particular websites. Beautifully laid out, the book addresses the role of psychology in website design as a method of connecting to people.

  • Professional Mobile Web Development with WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal

    2011

    Professional Mobile Web Development with WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal

    A reasonably clear discussion of using media queries and alternate style sheets (and testing and deployment) so that a website can respond to different devices, specifically in the context of managing this in CMS environments. Worth a spin.

  • Responsive Web Design

    2011

    Responsive Web Design

    Fluid grids, flexible images and media queries. This is a clearly laid-out approach to the options available for creating sites that are viewable on a range of different devices, from desktop to smart phone to tablet.

    This volume has been mentioned in despatches almost more than any other in recent years and is generally acknowledged as being the book that paved the way for 'responsive web design'. An updated 2nd edition was issued in 2014.

  • The Elements of Content Strategy front cover

    2011

    The Elements of Content Strategy

    An exceptionally clear examination of the principles of web content publishing and the rational and emotional craft, tools and techniques that can be employed to make a website's content resonate with users.

  • Introducing HTML5

    2011

    Introducing HTML5

    A primer by two well-respected developers on some of the new features of HTML and what sort of web-design problems HTML5 can solve right now.

  • Stunning CSS3 - a project-based guide to the latest in CSS

    2011

    Stunning CSS3 - a project-based guide to the latest in CSS

    A clear account of proposed changes to CSS (the style sheet language for websites), which browser supports which proposed property and selector. A well-produced book with clear examples. A good primer on what's just over the horizon and usable today.

  • Cognitive Surplus: creativity and generosity in a connected age

    2010

    Cognitive Surplus: creativity and generosity in a connected age

    Aside from the commercial dimension of the internet, how much of what we surf is there because of talent and goodwill? Wikipedia, for example, represents perhaps a 100 million hours of human thought (compared to the 200 billion hours of TV watched each year in America). This thought-provoking book sheds light on the brighter side of the internet.

  • Drupal 6 Panels Cookbook

    2010

    Drupal 6 Panels Cookbook

    Panels is one of the most complex modules avialable for Drupal and this volume steps through various configuration options for unleashing the module's power and integrating it with other modules.

  • Drupal 6 Performance Tips

    2010

    Drupal 6 Performance Tips

    All you need to know about Boosting, Throttling, Caching and MemCaching a Drupal website. Great stuff!

  • Drupal e-commerce with Ubercart 2.x

    2010

    Drupal e-commerce with Ubercart 2.x

    Ubercart is one of Drupal's most popular e-commerce modules, in use on over 30,000 websites. This volumes details some of the more complex issues relating to setting up a Drupal e-commerce website.

  • Drupal 6 Attachment Views

    2010

    Drupal 6 Attachment Views

    Bags of detail about the dark heart of Drupal which makes most people fall silent and shake. This is a romp of a manual for doing what I call "intelligent web publishing" with Drupal 6. Splendid!

  • Drupal 6 Search Engine Optimization

    2009

    Drupal 6 Search Engine Optimization

    Fine detail for getting the very best in SEO from a Drupal-based website.

  • Leveraging Drupal: getting your site done right

    2009

    Leveraging Drupal: getting your site done right

    A walk-through of the programming aspects of building a Drupal-driven website.

  • Building powerful and robust websites with Drupal 6

    2008

    Building powerful and robust websites with Drupal 6

    An excellent introduction to the power and elegance of the Drupal content management framework.

  • Drupal 6 Themes - create new themes for your Drupal 6 site with clean layout and powerful CSS styling

    2008

    Drupal 6 Themes - create new themes for your Drupal 6 site with clean layout and powerful CSS styling

    A theming primer for Drupal-based content management websites.

  • Wikinomics: how mass collaboration changes everything

    2008

    Wikinomics: how mass collaboration changes everything

    A fascinating analysis of the impact upon society and business of Web 2.0 technologies.

  • Pro Drupal Development - 2nd edition

    2008

    Pro Drupal Development - 2nd edition

    All you need to know about the Drupal content management framework - and then some more.

  • Building Findable Websites - web standards, SEO and beyond

    2008

    Building Findable Websites - web standards, SEO and beyond

    A primer on what needs to be done to ensure that websites can be found by search engines and - crucially - by making them conform to web standards. This volume yet again confirms that for sites to be successful they need to conform to web standards - as well as being good on the eye.

  • About Face 3 - the essentials of interaction design

    2007

    About Face 3 - the essentials of interaction design

    A ‘bible’ for the design of desktop application, Web 2.0 sites and mobile devices.

  • Designing with Web Standards - 2nd edition

    2007

    Designing with Web Standards - 2nd edition

    Don’t judge this book by the shot of the beanie-hatted author on the cover! Zeldman is amongst the web’s most respected designers and writers and is an evangelist for the development of websites that comply with web standards. This volume makes the convincing case for web standards, including the bottom line of ROI, accessibility and findability/SE-friendliness.

  • CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions

    2006

    CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions

    A primer on the importance of mastering CSS in pursuit of developing standards-compliant websites.

  • Don't Make me Think! - a common sense approach to web usability

    2006

    Don't Make me Think! - a common sense approach to web usability

    Web page design under the microscope.

  • CSS: The Definitive Guide, 3rd edition

    2006

    CSS: The Definitive Guide, 3rd edition

    A systematic elaboration on CSS properties and values.

  • Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy Every Time

    2005

    Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy Every Time

    A wordsmith’s handbook detailing how to write persuasive copy (text) for selling any product or service on the web.

  • The Zen of CSS Design - visual enlightenment for the web

    2005

    The Zen of CSS Design - visual enlightenment for the web

    An outstanding primer on web design and the way in which lean mark-up can deliver stunning visual design. At the time, this was just about the most absorbing book one could hold. A collection of designers had skinned the same HTML code with their own CSS and images, making a dazzling array of web standards compliant site designs. This was a brilliantly simple demonstration of the power and potential of CSS. Anybody unconvinced before opening the book was guaranteed to be a CSS convert at the end. A professional epiphany!

  • The Inmates are Running the Asylum - why high-tech products drive us crazy and how to restore the sanity

    2004

    The Inmates are Running the Asylum - why high-tech products drive us crazy and how to restore the sanity

    A superb account of what’s missing in the software design process and how to correct it.

  • The Elements of User Experience - user-centered design for the web

    2003

    The Elements of User Experience - user-centered design for the web

    A concise explanation of the obligations placed upon web designers in order to improve user experience on the web.

  • The Elements of Typographic Style

    1996

    The Elements of Typographic Style, second edition

    The first principle of typographic style, according to Robert Bringhurst, is that "typography exists to honor content". As the opening shot in this hugely influential book, this sets the tone perfectly. For those of us for whom typography - now (also) on the internet - plays a vital role in shaping web page design, this book lays the foundations in context. Not only is it dense with detail, it is also beautifully-designed.

  • Visual Interface Design for Windows

    1996

    Visual Interface Design for Windows

    Insights into Windows software from Microsoft’s director of visual interface design.

  • The Media Equation

    1996

    The Media Equation

    Implications for software designers resulting from insights into human-computer interaction.

  • The Design of Everyday Things

    1990

    The Design of Everyday Things

    This has nothing to do with software, yet is all about software(!) since it discusses the fundamentals of design and what happens to users when these are missing - this is an enormously important work.