Professionalism is built upon knowledge and experience. To become or remain professional, you permanently need to improve your design and programming skills, be aware of new approaches and now how other designers and developers achieve both beautiful and effective designs. And to improve your design and programming skills all the time you need bulletproof sources to learn properly and to learn from masters who have a profound understanding of the field they’re working in. Renowned books from well-known designers, developers, artists and authors might be just the right thing – serving as the inspiration or helping you to stay in touch with popular techniques in your field.
Over the last weeks we’ve selected over 40 expert books in the fields of typography, color, graphic design, brand identity, inspiration, web design and programming, Web 2.0,usability, data visualization and simplicity. We’ve ordered most of them (some books were unavailable).
And we’d like to give them all away – to you and for free – as the appreciation of your trust, your interest and your support of Smashing Magazine over the last year.
How can I participate?
To participate, you have to
- answer the question
“What is the best thing to start a perfect day with?”
in the comments to this post (one word is enough),
- choose one book in the table (not in the list!) you like most and post the number right after the answer (on the next line).
Please notice that
- participants can post comments until the 11th of September,
- the winners will be determined by chance – among the group of visitors who’d like to have the same book,
- only participants who’ve selected one book listed in the table can participate and
- make sure that you fill your e-mail in the comment field correctly, so we can contact you afterwards.
Below you’ll find the table of all books you can win, commenting on this article.
Below the table you’ll find the full description of the books we’ve considered as important and valuable for professional design and web-development.
Books You Can Win
|# ||Cover ||Title |
|2 || ||Thinking with Type |
by Ellen Lupton
|The fundamental knowledge about organization of letters on a blank sheet. |
|3 || ||Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works |
by Erik Spiekermann, E.M Ginger
|Design guidance in choosing type for legibility, meaning, and aesthetic appeal. |
|5 || ||Color |
by Paul J. Zelanski, Mary Pat Fisher
|A comprehensive introduction to the art and science of color use in all artistic media in both fine and applied arts. |
|6 || ||The Elements of Color |
by Johannes Itten
|Presents the key to understanding color in ltten’s color circle and color contrasts. |
|7 || ||Grid Systems in Graphic Design |
by Josef Muller-Brockmann, Josef Muller-Brockmann
|The definitive word on using grid systems in graphic design. |
|9 || ||The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture, and Type |
by Alexander W. White
|Explores the role of white space as a connection between page elements. |
|10 || ||1,000 Graphic Elements: Details for Distinctive Designs |
by Wilson Harvey
|1,000 of small embellishments collected from all kinds of projects, books, brochures, invitations, menus, CDs and annual reports. |
|12 || ||The Designers Complete Index |
by Jim Krause
|Hundreds of ideas, creative solutions and practical instructions which provide an insight into problem-solving in graphic design. |
|13 || ||Photoshop CS / CS2 Wow! Book, The |
by Linnea Dayton, Cristen Gillespie
|Bestselling mix of step-by-step tutorials for creating both commercial and fine-art images with Adobe Photoshop CS2. |
|15 || ||Designing Effective Communications: Creating Contexts for Clarity and Meaning |
by Jorge Frascara
|The book consists of essays written by a group of experts on communication design. |
|17 || ||Designing Brand Identity |
A Complete Guide to Creating, Building, and Maintaining Strong Brands by Alina Wheeler
|Describes approaches for designing a sustainable identity. |
|18 || ||Letterhead and Logo Design 9 |
|Features innovative work in the field of logo design. Showcase of creative techniques and full-color images which can inspire new design solutions. |
|19 || ||Logo Design That Works: Secrets for Successful Logo Design |
by Lisa Silver
|Examines the evolution of 100 popular logo designs and illustrates how and why these designs work. |
|20 || ||Logo Design Workbook: A Hands-On Guide to Creating Logos |
by Noreen Morioka, Terry Stone Sean Adams
|“What makes a logo work?”. The entire logo-development process is examined step-by-step. |
|21 || ||LogoLounge 3: 2,000 International Identities |
by Leading Designers, Bill Gardner, Catharine Fishel
|Thousands of new logos, providing designers with a source for design inspiration and a resource for design solutions. |
|22 || ||Designing with Web Standards |
by Jeffrey Zeldman, 2nd Edition
|Covers the current state of web-development, best practices and advances of standards-based web design. |
|24 || ||The Principles of Beautiful Web Design |
by Jason Beaird
|A simple guide with hundreds of full-color examples and illustrations, which will lead you through the process of creating beautiful and functional web designs from scratch. |
|25 || ||The Unusually Useful Web Book |
by June Cohen
|A detailed discussion of planning, designing, building, and maintaining your web site. |
|26 || ||CSS: The Definitive Guide |
by Eric Meyer
|A comprehensive introduction to CSS, along with a thorough review of all aspects of CSS 2.1. |
|27 || ||CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions |
by Andy Budd, Simon Collison, Cameron Moll
|The book is meant to support advanced CSS-developers and present professional techniques, approaches and solutions. |
|28 || ||Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design |
by Andy Clarke, Molly E. Holzschlag, Aaron Gustafson, Mark Boulton
|Discover how to implement highly original designs through visual demonstrations of the creative possibilities using markup and CSS. |
|30 || ||Professional Web 2.0 Programming |
by Eric van der Vlist, Danny Ayers, Erik Bruchez, Joe Fawcett, Alessandro Vernet
|Covers the key programming languages, techniques and technologies of Web 2.0 – at a professional level. |
|31 || ||Professional Ajax |
by Nicholas C. Zakas, Jeremy McPeak, Joe Fawcett, 2nd edition
|Provides a developer-level tutorial of Ajax techniques, patterns and use cases |
|32 || ||The Wisdom of Crowds |
by James Surowiecki
|Large groups of people are smarter than an elite, no matter how brilliant the latter might be. Wisdom of Masses seems to “work” better at solving problems, coming to wise decisions and predicting the future. |
|33 || ||The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More |
by Chris Anderson
|Explains what The Long Tail is and shows the development modern economy is currently undergoing as well as benefits one can gain from this process. |
|34 || ||Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age |
by Paul Graham
|The book explains the world we’re living in and the motivations of the people who occupy it. |
|35 || ||Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability |
by Steve Krug, 2nd Edition
|Describes a common sense approach to web usability and facts designers should keep in mind developing usable web-sites. |
|36 || ||Prioritizing Web Usability |
by Jakob Nielsen, Hoa Loranger
|Nielsen’s extensive guide for designers who aim to make their designs more usable. |
|37 || ||The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web |
by Jesse James Garrett
|Describes the ideas and techniques of user-centered design for the Web with clear explanations that focus on ideas rather than tools or techniques. |
|39 || ||Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative |
by Edward R. Tufte
|Tufte emphasizes the principle of using “the smallest effective difference” to display distinctions in data. The book describes techniques to present and visualize data in an effective and beautiful way. |
|40 || ||Beautiful Evidence |
by Edward R. Tufte
|The book identifies excellent and effective methods for presenting information, suggests new designs and provides tool for assessing the credibility of evidence presentations. |
|41 || ||The Laws of Simplicity |
by John Maeda
|Offers 10 laws for balancing simplicity and complexity — guidelines for needing less and actually getting more. |
1. The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
Thought-out typography supports and enriches the content. The Elements of Typographic Style teaches how to approach the choice of typography and how to create beautiful and “working” typography. The book is essential for professionals who regularly work with typographic designs. Robert Bringhurst writes about designing with the correct typeface; striving for rhythm, proportion, and harmony; choosing and combining type; designing pages; using section heads, subheads, footnotes, and tables; applying kerning and other type adjustments to improve legibility; and adding special characters, including punctuation and diacritical marks. The Elements of Typographic Style teaches the history of and the artistic and practical perspectives on a variety of type families that are available in Europe and America today.
2. Thinking with Type
A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students by Ellen Lupton
The organization of letters on a blank sheet — or screen — is the most basic challenge facing anyone who practices design. What type of font to use? How big? How should those letters, words, and paragraphs be aligned, spaced, ordered and shaped? In Thinking with Type Ellen Lupton provides clear and concise guidance for anyone learning or brushing up on their typographic skills.
The book is divided into three sections: letter, text, and grid. Each section begins with an essay that reviews historical, technological, and theoretical concepts, and is then followed by a set of practical exercises. Sections also include an insight in practice, examples of work by leading typographers, creative approaches and no-no’s to avoid.
3. Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works by Erik Spiekermann, E.M Ginger
Erik Spiekermann explains precisely and clearly what typography is and offers design guidance in choosing type for legibility, meaning, and aesthetic appeal. Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works guides the reader through all aspects of typography, from the history and mechanics of type, to training the eye to recognize and choose typefaces. The book helps you to understand the basics of type and its placement within society; it also teaches you how to use space and layout to improve overall communication. This guide is revised and updated to discuss the particular design challenges of type on the Web.
4. The New Typography by Jan Tschichold
Since its initial publication in Berlin in 1928, Jan Tschichold’s The New Typography has been recognized as the definitive treatise on book and graphic design in the machine age. The book covers theoretical discussions of typography in the age of photography, mechanical standardization and practical considerations in the design of business forms. Profound reading for designers, art historians, and all those concerned with the evolution of visual communication in the 20th century.
5. Color by Paul J. Zelanski, Mary Pat Fisher
A comprehensive introduction to the art and science of color use in all artistic media in both fine and applied arts. It provides a solid and thorough foundation in the aesthetic, science, psychology, and history of color, with extensive illustrations covering all media and historical periods to the present time.
6. The Elements of Color by Johannes Itten
A useful simplification and condensation of Johannes ltten’s major work. The Art of Color covers subjective feeling and objective color principles in detail. It presents the key to understanding color in ltten’s color circle and color contrasts.
7. Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Muller-Brockmann, Josef Muller-Brockmann
The main idea behind grid-based designs is a solid visual and structural balance of web-sites you can create with them. Sophisticated layout structures offer more flexibility and enhance the visual experience of visitors. In Grid Systems in Graphic Design Muller-Brockman offers the definitive word on using grid systems in graphic design. With examples on how to work correctly at a conceptual level and exact instructions for using all of the systems (8 to 32 fields), this guidebook provides a useful framework for problem-solving.
Graphic Design, Creativity, Inspiration
8. A History of Graphic Design by Philip Meggs
A History of Graphic Design includes over 1.200 illustrations which has impacted all aspects of contemporary design and communications. The book offers a comprehensive overview of creative innovators, breakthrough technologies, and important design innovations.
9. The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture, and Type by Alexander W. White
“White space” is supposed to improve the legibility of the content and make it easier for the readers to read the information and understand it. However, to use it effectively, you need to understand the theoretical basics of “white space” in typography and graphic design. With the help of selected examples from art, design, and architecture, The Elements of Graphic Design explores the role of white space as a connection between page elements. The book contains insightful comments, interactive design elements, suggestions, ideas and and scores of illustrations challenge designers to “think out of the box.” The book inspires more creative and thorough thinking.
10. 1,000 Graphic Elements: Details for Distinctive Designs by Wilson Harvey
Mostly this is the attention to details which gives your designs a profound and solid nature. This book covers 1,000 of small embellishments collected from all kinds of projects, books, brochures, invitations, menus, CDs and annual reports.
This book invites designers to literally shop for ideas. Content is organized by type; if you’re in the market for an unusual binding, turn to the bindings section to see a wide collection of fresh ideas. Other topics covered include fasteners, graphics, unique materials, embossing, debossing, specialty inks, type treatments, interesting color usage, add-ons, die cuts, and much more.
11. Graphic Design Solutions by Robin Landa, 3rd edition
Graphic Design Solutions provides a clear and comprehensive introduction to graphic design and advertising design, with step-by-step visual solutions that readers can apply to their designs and advertising projects. The book offers an illustrative overview of modern graphic design solutions for a variety of media — including print, Web, television, and unconventional formats. Graphic Design Solutions helps designers to gain a new way of thinking about their work and understand demands of modern graphic design.
12. The Designers Complete Index (Boxed Set) by Jim Krause
The Designer’s Complete Index is a boxed set which contains all three of Jim Krause’s “Index” Books, including Idea Index (graphic effects and typographic treatments), Layout Index (solutions for effective, dynamic layouts) and Color Index (over 1100 color combinations in CMYK and RGB). Each volume is packed with hundreds of ideas, creative solutions and practical instructions which provide an insight into problem-solving in graphic design.
13. Photoshop CS / CS2 Wow! Book, The by Linnea Dayton, Cristen Gillespie
Photoshop CS/CS2 Wow! delivers a mix of explanations and step-by-step tutorials for creating both commercial and fine-art images with Adobe Photoshop CS2. The book also includes short features in which professional photographers and designers let you in on their creative techniques and quick solutions. The DVD includes hundreds of before-and-after tutorial files, Layer Styles and Patterns, as well as Actions, gradients and custom tools. You’ll learn innovative techniques for creating and enhancing images, graphics, and type.
14. Creative Sparks by Jim Krause
A collection of advices, concepts, suggestions and exercises to stimulate the innovative way of thinking designers need to become or remain professional. This book teaches you how to find inspiration and spark new ideas. Each spread describes a thoughtfully designed example of creative thinking as well as practical advice and idea starters. A guide to each designer’s creative path.
15. Designing Effective Communications: Creating Contexts for Clarity and Meaning by Jorge Frascara
Designing Effective Communications consists of essays written by a group of experts on communication design. The book challenges the traditional “the medium is the message” theory; experts discuss the physical, visual, cognitive, and cultural meanings of messages and look at how interpretation plays a fundamental role in the creation of meaning.
Icon Design, Brand Identity, Logo Design
16. The Icon Book: Visual Symbols for Computer Systems and Documentation by William Horton
Icons, visual pointers to the chunks of information, are used widely but not always used wisely. This book demonstrates an orderly process for designing sets of icons, suggests fresh ideas and explains how to refine and test icon ideas. Furthermore, it demonstrates how to design large sets of related icons and presents the development of icons for the international market. The book uses a practical, research-based approach to the design of icons. A classic.
17. Designing Brand Identity: A Complete Guide to Creating, Building, and Maintaining Strong Brands by Alina Wheeler
Building a unique and memorable brand isn’t an easy task. To create a distinctive identity, designers need to be able to offer real substance. Designing Brand Identity describes approaches for designing a sustainable identity. The book is based upon a five-phase process for creating and implementing effective brand identity and offers tools for both designers and companies.
18. Letterhead and Logo Design 9 by MINE
This latest edition of the annual Letterhead and Logo Design series features innovative work in the field of logo design. Well-known design leaders, design firms and artists submit their logos, labels, business cards and envelopes annually; the result is the showcase of creative techniques and full-color images which can inspire new design solutions for age-old challenges that beg for a fresh approach.
19. Logo Design That Works: Secrets for Successful Logo Design
by Lisa Silver
This book examines the evolution of 100 popular logo designs and illustrates how and why these designs work. Drafts are compared with each other and the benefits of made changes are discussed — until the final version is released. Exploring the changes made to achieve the final result you can learn how to improve your own logo designs. The book includes short tips which address issues such as testing designs, sourcing inspiration, and typography.
20. Logo Design Workbook: A Hands-On Guide to Creating Logos by Noreen Morioka, Terry Stone Sean Adams
Logo Design Workbook tries to answer the question “what makes a logo work?”. The entire logo-development process is examined step-by-step. Among other topics covered in the book you’ll learn how to develop a concept that communicates the right message and is appropriate for both the client and the market. Apart from that, you’ll get an insight into choosing colors and typefaces, avoiding common mistakes, and deciphering why some logos are successful whereas others are not.
The book also offers in-depth case studies on logos designed for various industries. Each case study explores the design, the relationship with the client, the time frame, and the results.
21. LogoLounge 3: 2,000 International Identities by Leading Designers by Bill Gardner, Catharine Fishel
This third edition of the LogoLounge book presents thousands of new logos, providing designers with a source for design inspiration and a resource for design solutions. The first part of the book profiles the recent work of 10 top logo designers; the second part contains almost 2,000 logos organized by typography, people, mythology, nature, sports, etc.
22. Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman, 2nd Edition
Jeffrey Zeldman covers current state of web-development, best practices and advances of standards-based web design. Zeldman describes how to create sites that load faster, reach more users, and cost less to design and maintain. Among other topics Zeldman also explains new techniques to make CSS layouts work better across multiple browsers and ways to make web content more accessible.
23. Bulletproof Web Design: Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS by Dan Cederholm, 2nd Edition
Dan Cederholm outlines standards-based strategies for building designs that provide flexibility, readability, and user control. Each chapter starts out with an example of an unbulletproof site one that employs a traditional HTML-based approach which Cederholm deconstructs, points out its limitations and gives the site a make-over using XHTML and CSS.
The book also covers several popular fluid and elastic-width layout techniques and pieces together all of the page components discussed in prior chapters into a single-page template. Bulletproof Web Design offers a practical guide for development of standards-based designs.
24. The Principles of Beautiful Web Design by Jason Beaird
Even if you have an experience at working with both XHTML and CSS, you don’t necessary have a profound understanding on how to create designs from start to finish. The Principles Of Beautiful Design is a simple guide with hundreds of full-color examples and illustrations, which will lead you through the process of creating beautiful and functional web designs from scratch.
25. The Unusually Useful Web Book by June Cohen
The Unusually Useful Web Book is full with worksheets, lessons, advices from experts, and precise explanations related to web design. You can skim the sidebars and checklists for tips and techniques you can use right away. Or you can follow along with the main text for a detailed discussion of planning, designing, building, and maintaining your web site.
26. CSS: The Definitive Guide by Eric Meyer
CSS: The Definitive Guide provides you with a comprehensive introduction to Cascading Stylesheets, along with a thorough review of all aspects of CSS 2.1. The third edition is updated to cover Internet Explorer 7 and covers also the theory behind CSS positioning, lists and generated content, table layout, user interface and paged media.
27. CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions by Andy Budd, Simon Collison, Cameron Moll
CSS Mastery assumes that you already know the basics and why you should be using CSS in your work; it is meant to support advanced CSS-developers and present professional techniques, approaches and solutions to CSS-based web design. Each chapter explains a particular aspect of CSS-based design, such as visual formatting model, styling lists, forms and data tables, layouts, hacks and filters, bugs and bux fixing. Case studies support the book giving an insight in CSS-development in practice.
28. Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design (Voices That Matter) by Andy Clarke, Molly E. Holzschlag, Aaron Gustafson, Mark Boulton
In this book you’ll discover how to implement highly original designs through visual demonstrations of the creative possibilities using markup and CSS. You’ll learn to use a new design workflow, build prototypes that work well for designers and all team members, use grids effectively, visualize markup, and discover every phase of the transcendent design process. Transcending CSS covers the cross-plattform functionality, CSS 3 as well as an effective collaboration with team members.
29. The Art and Science of CSS by Jonathan Snook, Steve Smith, Jina Bolton, Cameron Adams, David Johnson
The Art & Science of CSS shows you how to take the building blocks of your designs (headings, navigation, forms etc) and bring them to life with fully standards-compliant CSS-solutions. This book helps you to design web sites that not only work well across all browsers, are easy to maintain, and are highly accessible, but are also visually appealing.
30. Professional Web 2.0 Programming (Wrox Professional Guides) by Eric van der Vlist, Danny Ayers, Erik Bruchez, Joe Fawcett, Alessandro Vernet
Web 2.0 architecture opens up an incredible number of options for flexible web design, creative reuse, and easier updates. Web 2.0 Programming covers the key programming languages, techniques and technologies of Web 2.0 – at a professional level. The book offers code for several applications built with popular frameworks.
31. Professional Ajax by Nicholas C. Zakas, Jeremy McPeak, Joe Fawcett, 2nd edition
Web 2.0, New Economy, Computer Age
32. The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki
James Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea: Large groups of people are smarter than an elite, no matter how brilliant the latter might be. Wisdom of Masses seems to “work” better at solving problems, coming to wise decisions and predicting the future. To prove it, The Wisdom of Crowds gives an insight in popular culture, psychology, ant biology, behavioral economics, artificial intelligence, military history, and politics and show how this simple idea offers important lessons for how we live our lives and think about our world.
33. The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson
The Long Tail is a powerful new force in the New Economy: the rise of the niche. The cost of reaching consumers drops dramatically, and so our markets are shifting from a model of mass appeal to one of unlimited variety for unique tastes. New efficiencies in distribution, manufacturing, and marketing are essentially resetting the definition of whats commercially viable across the board. The book explains what The Long Tail is, covers these changes and shows the development modern economy is currently undergoing as well as benefits one can gain from this process.
34. Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham
The book explains the world we’re living in and the motivations of the people who occupy it. The ideas Paul Graham discusses in this book have a powerful and lasting impact on how we think, how we work, how we develop technology, and how we live. Topics include the importance of beauty in software design, how to make wealth, free speech, the programming language renaissance, the open-source movement, digital design and internet startups.
Usability, User Experience
35. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug, 2nd Edition
We don’t read pages — we scan them. We don’t figure out how things work — we muddle through. Users’ behaviour is predictable and there are several heuristics one can use to achieve the best level of user-friendlines. Don’t Make Me Think describes a common sense approach to web usability and facts designers should keep in mind developing usable web-sites. Much of the content is devoted to proper use of conventions and content layout, and the “before and after” give concrete examples and how usable designs can be achieved in practice.
36. Prioritizing Web Usability (Voices) by Jakob Nielsen, Hoa Loranger
Prioritizing Web Usability is an extensive guide for designers who aim to make their designs more usable. Through the authors’ wisdom, experience amd results of real-world user tests you’ll learn about site design, user experience and usability testing, navigation and search capabilities, old guidelines and prioritizing usability issues, page design, user-friendly layout and content design.
37. The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web by Jesse James Garrett
The Elements of User Experience describes the ideas and techniques of user-centered design for the Web with clear explanations that focus on ideas rather than tools or techniques. You get the big picture of Web user experience development, from strategy and requirements to information architecture and successful visual design.
38. Designing Web Navigation: Optimizing the User Experience by James Kalbach, Aaron Gustafson
This book offers a fresh look at a fundamental topic of web-development: navigation design. Designing Web Navigation demonstrates that good navigation is not about technology – it’s about the ways people find information, and how you guide them.
39. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative by Edward R. Tufte
Visual Explanations describes techniques to present and visualize data in an effective and beautiful way. The book ranges through a variety of topics, including the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, magic tricks, a cholera epidemic in 19th-century London, and the principle of using “the smallest effective difference” to display distinctions in data. Tufte presents ideas with clarity and illustrates them in exquisitely rendered samples.
40. Beautiful Evidence by Edward R. Tufte
Beautiful Evidence is about how empirical observations turn into explanations and evidence presentations. The book identifies excellent and effective methods for presenting information, suggests new designs and provides tool for assessing the credibility of evidence presentations. The book digs more deeply into art and science to reveal very old connections between truth and beauty.
41. The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda
The Laws of Simplicity offers ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design — guidelines for needing less and actually getting more. The author explores the question of how we can redefine the notion of “improved” so that it doesn’t always mean something more, something added on.
Books To Keep Track On (Not Released Yet)
42. Five Simple Steps: Designing For The Web by Mark Boulton
Five Simple Steps teaches you how to design your website using the principles of graphic design. Five chapters, each covering a core subject: Ideas and Research, Typography, Grid Systems, Colour, Layout and Form. The book focuses on applying the core principles of graphic design to the web.
43. Web Form Design: Best Practices by Luke Wroblewski
A comprehensive work about the modern approach to design web forms, achieving optimal user experience and avoiding common usability mistakes.