Free Web Design Resources
Here are some recommended books to learn web design, website navigation and CSS. These are books that are popular and have received good reviews.
Don't Make Me Think
Usability design is one of the most important--yet often least attractive--tasks for a Web developer. In Don't Make Me Think, author Steve Krug lightens up the subject with good humor and excellent, to-the-point examples.
The title of the book is its chief personal design premise. All of the tips, techniques, and examples presented revolve around users being able to surf merrily through a well-designed site with minimal cognitive strain. Readers will quickly come to agree with many of the book's assumptions, such as "We don't read pages--we scan them" and "We don't figure out how things work--we muddle through." Coming to grips with such hard facts sets the stage for Web design that then produces topnotch sites.
Using an attractive mix of full-color screen shots, cute cartoons and diagrams, and informative sidebars, the book keeps your attention and drives home some crucial points. Much of the content is devoted to proper use of conventions and content layout, and the "before and after" examples are superb. Topics such as the wise use of rollovers and usability testing are covered using a consistently practical approach.
This is the type of book you can blow through in a couple of evenings. But despite its conciseness, it will give you an expert's ability to judge Web design. You'll never form a first impression of a site in the same way again. --Stephen W. Plain
Yesterday's Web looked far different from today's Web, and tomorrow's Web will look more different still. Amidst all of this change, however, one aspect of Web use remains the same: The sites that offer the best, easiest, most intuitive experience are the ones people visit again and again. To ensure that your sites provide that experience, you need this essential guide from usability guru Steve Krug that distills his years of on-the-job experience into a practical primer on the do's and don'ts of good Web design.
In this second edition, Steve adds three new chapters--in the same wry and entertaining style as the original--that explain why people really leave Web sites (Usability as Common Courtesy), how to make sites usable and accessible (Web Accessibility, CSS, and You), and the art of surviving executive design whims (Help! My Boss Wants Me to ____), plus a new preface and updated recommended reading.
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Head First Design Patterns
You're not alone. At any given moment, somewhere in the world someone struggles with the same software design problems you have. You know you don't want to reinvent the wheel (or worse, a flat tire), so you look to Design Patterns--the lessons learned by those who've faced the same problems. With Design Patterns, you get to take advantage of the best practices and experience of others, so that you can spend your time on...something else. Something more challenging. Something more complex. Something more fun. You want to learn about the patterns that matter--why to use them, when to use them, how to use them (and when NOT to use them). But you don't just want to see how patterns look in a book, you want to know how they look "in the wild". In their native environment. In other words, in real world applications. You also want to learn how patterns are used in the Java API, and how to exploit Java's built-in pattern support in your own code. You want to learn the real OO design principles and why everything your boss told you about inheritance might be wrong (and what to do instead). You want to learn how those principles will help the next time you're up a creek without a design paddle pattern. Most importantly, you want to learn the "secret language" of Design Patterns so that you can hold your own with your co-worker (and impress cocktail party guests) when he casually mentions his stunningly clever use of Command, Facade, Proxy, and Factory in between sips of a martini. You'll easily counter with your deep understanding of why Singleton isn't as simple as it sounds, how the Factory is so often misunderstood, or on the real relationship between Decorator, Facade and Adapter. With Head First Design Patterns, you'll avoid the embarrassment of thinking Decorator is something from the "Trading Spaces" show. Best of all, in a way that won't put you to sleep! We think your time is too important (and too short) to spend it struggling with academic texts. If you've read a Head First book, you know what to expect--a visually-rich format designed for the way your brain works. Using the latest research in neurobiology, cognitive science, and learning theory, Head First Design Patterns will load patterns into your brain in a way that sticks. In a way that lets you put them to work immediately. In a way that makes you better at solving software design problems, and better at speaking the language of patterns with others on your team.
The Zen of CSS Design