20 awesome books for web designers and developers

11. Don't Make Me Think

Don't make me think

If you work in web design and haven’t read this classic tome by Steve Krug, make sure you correct that ASAP. Basically the bible of web usability, it’s written in a concise way that makes it easy to consume on your commute. First published in 2000, an updated version explores mobile as well as web usability.

"Anyone who designs, codes, writes, owns, or directs websites should read and memorise this book," argues Jeffrey Zeldman. "Whereas earlier usability books are scolding, parental, and anti-creative in tone, Steve makes the case for web usability compelling, friendly, and fun. I naively saw usability as the enemy of design until I read this book. It will work equal wonders for the marketers, developers, project managers, and content folks on your team… or for anyone who wants their website to delight its users."

12. Getting Things Done

Getting things done book

"One of the greatest problems faced by web design freelancers is stress. Running your own business and dealing with demanding clients leaves many freelancers lying in bed worrying and feeling completely overwhelmed," comments Paul Boag.

"Allen's book proposes a way of organising one's life to strike the balance between work and home. Although not for everybody, it certainly made an enormous difference for me, enabling me to feel in control of my ever-growing workload."

13. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy

Good strategy bad strategy book

Richard Rumelt's Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why it Matters aims to differentiate itself from its rivals by not stretching an essay like argument to hundreds of pages. Instead, says the author, it "presents views on a range of issues that are fundamental, but which have not been given much daylight". 

This gelled with Leisa Reichelt: "It's not exactly a web book, but I wish more web industry people would read it so that we could spend more time making better things."

14. Mobile First

mobile first book

Luke Wroblewski's Mobile First is a strategic guide to mobile web design, which asks and answers why you should go mobile first, and how to achieve such goals. While it's a little old now (it was originally published in 2011), it still includes plenty of great advice.

"When you want solid research and statistics on any web-related topic, Luke is your guy," says Aaron Gustafson. "His treatise on mobile is packed with incredibly valuable – and sometimes surprising – information that will help you better understand the mobile landscape and better sell its promise to your clients."

15. ReWork

rework book

It's safe to say Basecamp is not a typical company, but its success shows there can be a better way to work, without meetings, spending your entire savings, or working ridiculous hours. ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever, was written by the company's founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, and provides a glimpse inside how Basecamp works.

UI designer Maykel Loomans finds it invaluable: "The book's a staple when anyone asks me about designing, developing or wanting to create just about anything software-related. The power of ReWork lies in how clear-cut all the statements are. It's not a book that contains information that should be taken at face value, but it does give a lot of empowerment and it's a breeze to get through."

16. Steal like an Artist

Steal like an artist book

Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist is a book about process, and what the author learned during his design career. "There are many lessons here that are so stupidly obvious, but when they're written down they bring a lot of empowerment to the reader," comments UI designer Maykel Loomans. The book began life as a list, and then a slide presentation, before becoming a lively, engaging and entertaining book for improving your creative life.

17. The Elements of Typographic Style

the elements of typographic style

Before you understand the technical aspects of typesetting on the web, you have to understand the principles underpinning it. First published in 1992, this beautifully written manual from Robert Bringhurst sets out the history of typography and is a practical guide to its use.

Thanks to technical advancements, web designers have more control than ever over the way their text is displayed. Which means designers need to understand the principles of typography more than ever before.

"This book goes into incredible depth and detail, making it indispensable for anyone wanting to make their web typography both legible and beautiful," says designer Laura Kalbag

18. The Happiness Project

Are you happy? Gretchen Rubin one rainy afternoon realised she could be happier and embarked on her project, setting resolutions and figuring out what worked for her. The result is a thoughtful, practical and humorous story that could inspire you to your own paths to happiness. 

Sarah Parmenter elaborates on why it's an important inclusion in our list: "It reminded me that there's more to life than sitting in front of a Mac. Work-life balance is incredibly important in what we do, and this book can be read as a quick pick me up at any time."

19. Thinking, Fast and Slow

thinking fast and slow book

Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow is concerned with thought processes and how we make decisions: why we're more likely to believe something that's in a bold typeface; why we assume someone who's good-looking will be more competent; and so on. 

Designer and developer Sebastian Green says: "As competition on the web increases, we are all looking for ways to create better sites. Going down the psychology route is the next step, and this book provides insight into how we are influenced, and how we interpret and respond to questions."

20. The Victorian Internet

the Victorian internet book

According to Eric Meyer, this book by Tom Standage is a "compact, fascinating examination of how the internet parallels the telegraph system very closely, and how the world was even more technologically disrupted and future-shocked by the telegraph than we could ever aspire to be". 

Standage himself is proud of the book's longevity, noting on his website that he got to "make fun of the internet, by showing that even such a quintessentially modern technology actually has roots going back a long way – in this case, to a bunch of electrified monks in 1746".

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