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    Thursday, December 16, 2004

    I'm keeping a publisher in business

    I'm totally addicted to the New Riders books, especially the "Voices That Matter" series. They all revolve around the concepts of web design, programming, project management, and web standards. There's something so neat and clean about all these books. The way they're written, the techniques they discuss, and the resourceful guides they include, I find myself reaching for these books time and time again when I get stuck.

    I'm not intending to review these thoroughly, but here are a couple thoughts about each of the ones I own. Maybe a last minute gift idea for that special web guy/gal in your life?

    Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman - This is the king daddy of 'em all. The place to begin. Praise for Zeldman's book in the web development community stretches to the ends of this earth. I have to agree, it's a great place to start. You'll receive a terrific introduction to what the world of "web standards" is all about.

    Web Design on a $hoestring by Carrie Bickner - Wife of Zeldman (and new mom!), Bickner's book is probably my 2nd favorite in the series because it presents almost all facets of a successful web development project based on a shoestring budget. Many of the great ideas in this book you can acquire for a grand ol' price tag of $0.00.

    The Unusually Useful Web Book by June Cohen - Of all the "Voices That Matter" books I've read, this one packs in the most information per square inch. You can either read it cover to cover, or flip through willy-nilly to skim helpful tips. It's packed with checklists and worksheets to get yourself on the right track.

    Don't Make Me Think! by Steve Krug - There's more to building a website than the HTML involved. This book is subtitled "A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability." This guide is invaluable when you need to take a hard look at the details. Are your forms user-friendly? Are your navigation elements readily available to all browsers? Are your links properly labeled? This book is a great intro to accessibility concepts too.

    Return on Design by Ani Phyo - The author is a gourmet chef in Portland, Oregon. So you'll be hungry after reading her examples. Great book to pick up on some solid methodologies and project planning insight from one of the founders of the now-defunct

    The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier - This book reads like McLuhan's The Medium is the Massage. Between passages about blending design ideas with marketing techniques, you have some poignant visuals that help develop the author's primary themes and messages, namely how to bridge the distance between business strategy and design.

    Defensive Design for the Web by 37signals - I just finished reading this great book on contingency design. It helps you plan for things when they go wrong -- and the authors assure you, they *will* go wrong. Get some pointers on efficient error messages, online shopping processes, and friendly web copy. This is a terrific book to dig into when you're looking for ways to improve your site.

    If you're interested in any of these books, Amazon has a fair price tag on each of them. Or you could always swing by to borrow some. Now, back to reading...