5 of the Best Books for Web Design This 2019

When we go to a website, there’s an entire host of factors that lead and pull our gaze to an intended spot on the screen. Most of us aren’t aware of it, and the majority doesn’t know why some websites are better than others. Some are just better. That’s the beauty of web design, being able to separate your site or your client’s site from the billions upon billions that are out there demanding user attention. Web design has never been in more demand. As more and more companies digitize their business models and incorporate web-based solutions and storefronts, the need for web designers is only going to increase. It’s a knowledge base that’s invaluable in today’s business world. But outside of classes or self-taught strategies, there’s a lot of information out there that’s outdated or just doesn’t work anymore. To combat that and to keep you up to speed, here are the 5 best books for web design in 2019. Here, we’ll look at the ins and outs, history, and practical takeaways of this year’s best and most applicable guides. 

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The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

The Design of Everyday Things is a timeless Masterclass in the things we overlook. In this book, Don Norman explains how design profoundly influences action in even the littlest of things. We don’t think twice about the handle of a coffee mug. We plop down on our couches, take out the remote control, and just start flipping. How do we know the couch is comfortable or sturdy enough to take our weight? How do we instinctively know how to turn on a TV? How do we know exactly what direction a tab button will take us? These questions are, in the most classic of senses, eloquently profound. Originally published in 1988, Cognitive Science professor Don Norman sought out to expand upon psychology concepts as it relates to design. He expanded on terms like “affordance” a description of what the environment offers people, to include perceptual dimensions. The commonly used example is a flat metal plate on the edge of a door meant to be pushed. We know it’s supposed to be pushed due to the absence of a handle. In this scenario, the physical antithesis of the handle is automatically recognized due to its presence as an indicator of action. We do not question why.

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

No list about web design would be complete or even worth your time without mentioning Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think. It is, hands down, one of the best web design books ever written. The entire book surrounds the idea that people, when it comes to any decision, employ satisficing, or, the decision to choose the first option if it fits enough imagined criteria. It’s summarized verbally as: “Yeah, sure. Why not?” Krug states that web designers should take immediate advantage of this phenomena. Less options that do more things or create more value is the absolute goal. This lends itself to the world of intuitive design. Nobody likes the verbose. Nobody likes the complicated. Keep it simple, keep it tight, and make sure your user always feels like it was their idea to engage. That’s the principal takeaway from Krug’s masterpiece.


Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences by Stephen P. Anderson

Seduction in web design is rooted in the user experience. What is it about your website that gets people to engage? What makes them stay? Can a website spike all the right emotions?  Stephen P. Anderson answers these questions in Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences. Just like interpersonal interactions, seduction is used in this book as a term to get you to engage. It relays a philosophy that is often not touted in the Silicon Valley echo chambers of “sleek” and “Jobs-esque” aesthetic: fun. Fun, aside from seeking information, is probably the number one reason people engage online. To many, it’s a refuge from a boring life or job. This book addresses the incremental steps one sets up in order to keep someone clicking down the rabbit hole. Anderson proposes a hierarchy, displayed as a pyramid. The ultimate goal is to provide a meaningful user experience. But what does that even mean? Companies and designers rarely get past the usability and convenience ranks and into pleasurable and meaningful. How one thinks cannot be separated by how they feel. Their opinions and tendencies are directly linked to the state of emotion they’re in. With this knowledge, Anderson sets out to provide designers with the tools to create a user experience meant purely to elicit the right actions within a website.

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Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleo

Everybody wants to be original. Every designer is guilty of dedicating pages and sketches and concepts in an attempt to create something new. Well, nothing is new. There are no original designs. Everything is derivative. It’s in this tongue-in-cheek tone that Austin Kleo delivers his ideas in Steal Like An Artist. In the digital age, too much time is wasted on trying to be on the innovative front. According to Kleo, what we should be doing is embracing influence and framing design based off of what we would use instead of what we think can work. It’s quite a controversial statement. But even that isn’t new. Steve Jobs once said in an interview that “good artists copy, great artists steal.” That, in turn, was taken from Pablo Picasso in the mid-20th century. In web design, one can take elements of things we repeatedly use. It can greatly translate to the greater masses. We are, after all, not that original.


How to Build Websites that Sell: The Scientific Approach to Websites by Peep Laja

What do we do when we want to extract more from a user base? How does one increase their daily active users? What are the main factors that convert those users to cash-spenders? According to Peep Laja, it’s all in the science. It has nothing to do with feeling and emotion. It all has to do with optimizing the experience for sales. This book offers a no-nonsense and no-frill outlook on how to make yourself or your clients more money. This is geared specifically for the entrepreneurial web designer, looking to double their sales. Often times, clients are looking for one thing: conversions. While most of us debate color palate, seek guidance in terms of usability, and create themes, most clients want to know when they’ll get their return on investment. This book is perfect for that.


Web design has many facets. It’s an open-ended field with such a wide array of uses that businessmen and cognitive scientists alike have weighed in on its process. Whatever it is you’re working on, one can benefit from a well-rounded perspective as presented by these 5 masterful yet very different books.


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