10 top web design books for Christmas 2016


The festive period is a super opportunity to get on with some reading. Okay, there is a mountain of free ebooks on web design subjects, but reading a PDF on a screen doesn't have the tactility to focus the attention in the same way as a good piece of print.

You might have your book list all set up, but if 2016 has whizzed by in a blur and you're unprepared, allow us to help you out with this list of the best web design books to come out this year.

01. How they got there

Wonderful interviews by Khoi Vinh

Khoi Vinh’s website, Subtraction, is one of the best web design blogs out there, covering everything he finds interesting about the industry and the web in general. Now he’s written this book of interviews with fourteen fascinating web people including Karen McGrane, Erika Hall, Geoff Teehan and Dan Cederholm. These are stories of some amazing careers in digital media and the wise words of these people will inspire you to succeed in your own endeavours. 

02. Pixels and Place: Connecting Human Experience Across Physical and Digital Spaces

Design for connected people

Tech humanist Kate O’Neill looks at how phenomena such as the Internet of Things, wearable technology, and the ubiquity of smartphones is blurring the boundaries between the parts of life that are off line and those that are online. 

As more of our lives become online in some way, how we design the experience of that is important; Kate explores how to design so that our humanity is respected and that our use of these new technologies offers us something meaningful. This is also a business book – it will suit entrepreneurs, strategists, marketers, and anyone who designs experiences for people.

03. Design for Real Life

How to design for stress cases

When designing a product, how often do you consider those who might be using it when they’re in an extreme emotional state, or even an emergency? At some time in our lives, all of us will have to use websites and interfaces when we’re in a state of shock, grief, depression or extreme stress, and they will look different when viewed through the lens of those emotions. 

In this book, Eric Meyer and Sara Wachter-Boettcher explain how to design for stress cases so that your sites will support users in a wider range of contexts. 

04. Practical SVG

SVG for everyone

You can trust CSS-tricks man Chris Coyier to come up with an SVG book that’s approachable, smart and easy to digest. On the conference circuit in recent years he's been telling us that SVG is for everyone, and he says this book is "day-to-day useful stuff for front end folk". It’s not going to make you an expert, but if you're a designer looking to take advantage of the power of SVG, this is a great start. 

05. Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries: User Research War Stories

Entertaining and insightful

Mishaps and bizarre occurrences in user research often reveal some of the most interesting and unexpected insights in this entertaining book by Steve Portigal. Anyone with even a tangential interest in user research will find practical value here, not to mention a fun read. 

06. Working the command line

Master this beast for a better workflow

Do you dread having to deal with the command line? It's actually pretty cool, and in this approachable book Remy Sharp demonstrates how to master its power to develop a faster, more efficient workflow. 

07. Sprint

Design sprints will help you take decisive action in five days

This book tells the story of the design sprint, a process devised by designer Jake Knapp at Google for responding fast to complex problems. Within just five days, this process will enable you to test your ideas and arrive at a decision or prototype in response to a big challenge or opportunity. 

Whether you work at a small startup or a huge company, this guide will help you to answer tough business questions. It also has a rather snazzy cover, go here to read about how it was designed at high speed in collaboration with Jessica Hische. 

08. Understanding Industrial Design: Principles for UX and Interaction Design

Blending physical and digital design

As more and more devices get connected to the internet, user experience designers are starting to take an interest in the physical design of those products. If you feel your job heading in this direction, this book will give you a sound framework for approaching the challenge of combining digital and physical design. 

09. Designing interface animation

Val Head's excellent book on making great animations

The power of animation on websites to convey meaning and ease user journeys really came to the fore in 2016, and you might say this book is the definitive one for this topic. Val Head takes you through the principles of animation design theory and practice to enable you to create animations that inform and delight your users while blending stylishly into your design. 

10. Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything

Aaron James Draplin's career so far

Why invent an angle when you don't have to? Pretty Much Everything is the fantastic mind dump of designer Aaron James Draplin: work, stories, how-tos, explorations of his process; all wrapped up with his highly entertaining prose. 

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