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What We're Reading: Web Design, Web User Interfaces, and Web Patterns

We like to recommend books we're reading at RKG that we really like. Today's topic: web design. Bulletproof Web Design by Dan Cederholm. The book's subtitle is "Improving Flexibility and Protecting Against Worst-Case Scenarios with XHTML and CSS." I think Dan's publishing house wrote the subtitle, as the "worst case scenarios" involve users changing their browser font, users resizing their screen, and designers updating their websites. Simple, calm, and well-designed, this quiet book argues for clean markup and flexible attractive pages, and gives designers the HTML and CSS strategies to construct them. Designing The Obvious by Robert Hoekman. This is a book about user interfaces, a level up from Cederholm's focus on HTML and CSS. This book reads like a conversation. Great illustrations. Tips include build only what is necessary, turn beginners into intermediates, prevent errors, support a specific activity, and stick to a vision. Great UI is deceptively simple -- that simplicity takes much thought and work. Designing The Obvious will help you get there quicker. Design Of Sites by Van Duyne, Landay, and Hong. There are common patterns in architecture and planning (A Pattern Language) and in object oriented computer programming ( Design Patterns aka GoF). Design Of Sites extends this approach to websites, offering 88 archetypal patterns found in site design. You'll find a few new ideas within, but what is more impressive (and useful) is how the authors have constructed a pattern taxonomy which span almost the entire online experience. The book is from 2002 and so predates AJAX. Despite that omission, Design Of Sitesprovides a great pattern language to describe elements of websites and online interaction. All three highly recommended. Buy them and scatter around your web department.
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