Resources and reading for student web designers – part one

As many will know, if you follow my tweets, I’m a little busy this week.  So this is a bit of a short post, at least in writing, if not content. I’ve been asked many times for my recommended reading list for student web designers, so here is the first part.

Best online learning sites

The Sitepoint
The forums and articles are a great resource for up to the minute resources.  Sitepoint also sell some easy to read books on almost the whole syllabus for the would be web designer or developer.

Sitepoints online learning site has some good online courses for catching up on CSS3 and HTML 5.  I particuarly like their Getting started course on Blogging.

W3C School
Backed by the people who make the web standards, it is a little traditional in approach, but has some good primers on HTML and CSS.   A very approachable and straightforward site.

Some really good video tutorials for almost every software package you could wish for. Can’t find the 30 day trial anymore, but prices start at $25.  If you get the chance watch: Pitching Projects and Products to Executives. Authors: Dane Howard and Richard Koci Hernandez. Just finished watching it and is wonderfully minimal in its filming.

Be careful here, the videos cover every subject, but some are of questionable quality.

A lot of experienced web designers are on twitter, so it is a great place to make connections and get advice.

Journal style sites that do great articles on web design

A List Apart

A List Apart has been running a while and publishes some really thoughtful articles that will interest even the most experienced web designer.  I’ve been reading it for about 5 years and it never fails to make me think.  As they put it:

“For people who make websites … A List Apart Magazine (ISSN: 1534-0295) explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices.”

Boxes and Arrows

Another great site if you want to stretch your knowledge on the theory side of the arena.   Very much peer written for the design industry with a heavy emphasis on the practice of design.
Jacob Neilson’s website concentrating on usability and the web, along with intranets and mobile devices.   Hate him or love him, he does make some good points about the lack of usability that cutting edge design sometimes suffers from.  That said, he may be mellowing, as he has started to admit that things are improving in some areas.

Blogs on Web Design

For more sites this is still a useful list even if not this year.


Where possible I have included the author’s website.  If you don’t get all the books there are often great free resources on the websites.

Web design ideas

I have a few books for inspiration which are basically pages and pages of website design examples.

The Web Designer’s Idea Book, Volume 2  by Patrick McNeil
From Amazon

A good book but also check out his website. for some great examples.

Web Design Index
From Amazon

There are  now about ten of these.  Maybe a little bit artier than the previous book in the list.

Web Design Theory

Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman.

From Amazon
If you stick to the web standard your pages will be cleaner and future proof.  Getting almost possible with the improvements in modern browsers.  This book was one of the originals and still the best.

Don’t Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug

From Amazon

This is a really short book so should be readable in a couple of evenings.   Well written and easy to digest.   Wish more web designers had read it though.

Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning by Dan M. Brown

From Amazon

Some interesting ideas on how to develop your ideas and plan your websites more effectively.  Good to get standard practices when working across a team.

Web Redesign 2.0: Workflow That Works by Kelly Goto (Author), Emily Cotler (Author)

From Amazon

Web redesign 2.0 offers methods for web redesign workflow management. It discusses logistical constraints and how to effectively analyze feature requirements to reach the company’s goals.   Worth reading, as these guy know what they are talking about and can help you avoid some of the usual pitfalls.

The Design of Sites: Patterns For Creating Winning Web Sites by Douglas K. Van Duyne, James A. Landay, Jason I. Hong

From Amazon

The Design of Sites is a very thorough and sensible book on the topic of customer-centered designs. It discusses formulas that lead to powerful web designs.   Design patterns can help you design sites that are easy to use because they follow structures we use accross the whole web.   Reinventing the wheel can sometimes loose you customers.

HTML, CSS and Fonts

Stunning CSS3: A Project-Based Guide to the Latest in CSS (Voices That Matter) by Zoe Mickley Gillenwater

From Amazon

Fluid Web Typography by Jason Cranford Teague

From Amazon

Only partly through both of these but heard both speak at CSS Summit.

Social Media

The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

From amazon

Easy read for social media and online marketing, now in third edition.   Puts social media into perspective with real business situations.


The Art of SEO by Eric Enge
From amazon

It is a classic even if a lot of new books have come out since.

Good Conferences (mainly UK based)

Usability Week 2011 – Nielsen Norman Group
A little pricey unfortunately.  See if they are coming to a city near you.

New Adventures in web design

The conference is now sold out, although Heart Internet have a competition to win two tickets.  They do still have places on their workshops.

Enviroment for Humans
These conferences are totally online so you need a good  broadband connection, and in some areas of the world, staying power to deal with the timezone.  I really enjoyed the CSS Summit and I’m signed up for the UX Web Summit on the 28 September 2011.

Over to you
Anyway that should keep you busy for a while.  Let me know if you know of other good additions for the list.