On my recent foray I had enough time off that I needed a vacation from the general vacationing. Our particular form of escapism involves reading, so there were multiple stops in Borders in CA, CT, and other states. I can say definitively that much like Starbucks, homogeny amongst stores is the name of the game country-wide. Strangely comforting and disturbing at the same time.
Spending too much money at Borders, I wound up with two gems in the lot that I read cover-to-cover over the course of the trip. Every respectable web designer needs to have these on their bookshelf.
A common complaint running through the current set of Amazon reviews for this book is that if you read zeldman.com on a regular basis, this book doesn’t offer much new.
A point I’d have to concede, but there has always been a temporal feeling to the daily posting paradigm which marks older thoughts as less relevant, when sometimes they’re the most relevant. This is the first time Zeldman’s thinking has been collected and presented in such a clear manner in one spot, and it’s well worth owning if for no other reason than to pass it around the office.
The first four chapters of the book are devoted to the Why. As in, why use web standards to build your site. The last half deals with the How, and goes over basic XHTML, CSS, and DOM methods that likely won’t open your eyes if you’ve been reading his site for any period of time.
Already in its second printing, DWWS deserves a spot on your shelf whether you’re new to the game, or just need a definitive resource to point to when making the case for designing with web standards.
At 190 pages, Steven Krug’s very popular book on web usability gets right to the point and tells you what you need to do to make your work as easy to use as possible. Finally, a usability expert that actually gives you information you can use.
This book really opened my eyes — a lot of the things he discusses are intuitive, but not obvious. They’re the sort of things you inherently feel, but have never been able to verbalize before. As you read you can’t help but slap your head as each epiphany leaves you muttering “oh yeah, of course.”
People use the web a certain way. If you peg the average web user as the type who will click through three pages to find what they need before giving up and moving on to the next site, you have much to learn.
Much as web standards are a continuum, so too is web usability. Krug notes that if you make even 50% of an effort to make your work more usable, he’ll be pleased. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the same effort will cause your site to be far more successful.