Hey hey hey! It’s almost the end of the month, so that means it’s time for me to do a recommendation post a day or 2 before the month is out! I should really start titling these a month ahead….
I took a Web Design course last semester and it has helped me immensely, not only with designing websites, but also with designing graphics. I figured this could be a useful topic to recommend to book bloggers, since we spend so much time on the internet, and many of us design our own stuff (and put so. much. time. into that, too).
First, it’s good to know HTML and CSS. I actually had a ton of fun learning it. It’s cool to go from a blank white screen to a whole web page with just the power of a keyboard. The book we used in my class was Head First HTML and CSS. It’s from 2012, which means there are a few things that are outdated about it. However, the language it uses to teach you is so accessible and understandable that I actually had FUN learning from this book. There are conceptual exercises you can fill out like a workbook within the text. AND it comes with digital files that you can get online so you literally can code with the book as it teaches you different things. Despite some of it being outdated (you can easily find the newest HTML and CSS rules on W3 schools, aka the most useful site on the internet), the way it teaches you makes you truly learn the nuts and bolts of what you are doing.
Next is The Principles of Beautiful Web Design (3rd edition). It’s pretty much is as it sounds. It does not teach you any code. But it gives great examples of web pages that are well-designed, and it literally takes you through the entire process of designing a website – from concept, to structure, to color palette, font, you name it. It uses a consistent example of designing one hypothetical website so you can see how each step progresses as you go. Really cool book.
The next two books are not books that were on the syllabus – I just checked them out from the library because I am an over-achiever and wanted to learn more about design. These books are not necessarily only for web design, but can also be applied to graphic design, too.
The first is The Non-Designers Design Book by Robin P. Williams. This book opened my eyes to graphic design concepts that I had probably subconsciously recognized, but as the book argues, putting words to these “invisible” design elements is the first step to becoming a good designer (like why does center alignment look weak, and what fonts pair well together). It has great examples of the same documents designed in different ways to show the effects of all the changes you can (and should) make. Like, after I read it, I began noticing poor design all around me. It has helped me on many occasions designing for work-related things. So helpful!
Finally, Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty by David Kadavy is a fascinating look at design principles from the inside out. He even goes into the history of the development of some design principles, which might sound like a total snoozefest, but he writes in such a friendly (and FUNNY!) style, that it is a great read! If you are interested in typography, this is a good book to pick up, too. If you are going to pick up any one of the last three books I mentioned, this one should be the one because it is a fantastic overview of the principles covered in the other design books I mentioned. If you want it all, go for this book.
And that’s it! Let me know if you know of any other books on this topic I should check out!