MA Web Design & Content Planning

Major Project: Reading

Essential Text Books

Essential Text Books

The books in this section form a core of texts that cover all the topics addressed during the course. During the course, you will be asked to do weekly reading and in most cases, it will be from these books. Many of them are available from the library but you should probably aim to own a copy of at least 3 or 4 of them, with Jennifer Robbins' Learning Web Design being top of your list.

Articulating Design Decisions by Tom Greever

Articulating Design Decisions

“Great designers are great copmmunicators”, that's the key message of Tom Greever's excellent book. Over 13 chapters and 250 pages, Tom takes us on a journey through a typical design project, helping us to understand our responsibilities and identify stakeholders at each stage and explaining how best to communicate our ideas.

Of course some of this is common sense but there's plenty of really useful insight here to and it's clear from the confidence with which it's written that the author has a great deal of experience managing design projects.

This is a really good book for all students of design who have to present their work in front of their tutors, peers and external clients and who need to know how to do this clearly and effectively.

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Articulating Design Decisions is available at

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This title is not currently available from the Greenwich library

Digital marketing (6th Ed.) by Dave Chaffey and Fiona Ellis Chadwick

Digital marketing (6th Ed.)

This book gives a great introduction to the subject and covers all the basics plus an analysis of how web design fits into the overall picture.

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Digital marketing (6th Ed.) is available at

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Greenwich library: 10 copies ~ view catalogue entry

Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter

Designing for Emotion

Aarron Walter's excellent book for A Book Apart explains how best to design websites for people, examining the psychology of design. Like many books in the same series, this is a brief read but manages to condense what could be a complex subject into a digestible 100 pages.

This book will help you understand how to give personality to your designs and how to surprise and delight your site visitors.

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Greenwich library: 4 copies ~ view catalogue entry

Smashing Book #4 (New Perspectives on Web Design) by Various authors

Smashing Book #4 (New Perspectives on Web Design)

Over the years, Smashing Magazine has produced some great books that have kept us all up-to-date with contemporary ideas and concepts in web design. Smashing Book #4 is no exception but this volume elevates the series from ‘good to know’ to ‘essential reading’ for all web designers. I could have singled out any one of the 13 essays in this book but for me, Harry Roberts' chapter, Modern CSS Architecture and Front-End Development is a seminal work. In it, Harry challenges some of the most strongly held beliefs (e.g. CSS class names should be semantic) and paves a new way forward for front-end developers. This is a book that demonstrates the maturing of web design as an intellectual endeavour and it really is essential reading for anyone who needs to understand web design today.

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This title is not currently available from the Greenwich library

Smashing Book #5 (Real-Life Responsive Web Design) by Various authors

Smashing Book #5 (Real-Life Responsive Web Design)

Smashing Book #5 is another weighty tome from the makers of Smashing Magazine and just like the previous publications, its 600 pages are crammed full of the best advice from leading thinkers in contemporary web design.

This volume takes the theme of responsive web design and contains chapters on workflow, design patterns, web font performance, responsive images, SVG and flexbox. It ends with a chapter by Andy Clarke, reminding us not to lose sight of the fact that we should be designing creatively. All-in-all, this is a must-read book for all web designers.

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This title is not currently available from the Greenwich library

Above the Fold by Brian Miller

Above the Fold

Above the Fold is an ideal book for the web design newbie. Although it doesn't cover any particular topic in any great depth, it gives a great overview of the visual web design process and covers everything from the history of the web to the use of analytics via web page anatomy, typography, site planning, marketing and SEO. This book won't teach you how to code but it makes the perfect companion to your favourite book on HTML and CSS. It's printed in full colour with lots of really informative illustrations and lots of examples of websites that clearly illustrate the points made in the text. The book is a quick and easy read but there's enough here to make it a great reference too.

From the introduction: “The phrase ‘above the fold’ reminds us that there are both close similarities and vast differences between print and Web design. The principles of space usage, typography, and other elements of effective hierarchical communication are essential to both print and Web design, but the methods of achieving these principles involve different skill sets and consideration for the end user. That's what this book is about – the fundamentals of graphic design and the specific considerations a designer makes for effective web communication. And it's the reason Above the Fold is a fitting title.”

If I have one small criticism, it is that the book shows a bias towards the author's particular area of expertise (typography) but for those who need a visual design primer for the web that takes in other considerations like standard IAB banner sizes, this book is perfect.

Above the Fold is available at

Greenwich library: 10 copies ~ view catalogue entry

Adaptive Web Design (2nd Ed.) by Aaron Gustafson

Adaptive Web Design (2nd Ed.)

This book defines and describes many of the key principles by which good websites should be judged. As such, it can be used as a check to make sure the websites you are crteating conform to best practice.

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Adaptive Web Design (2nd Ed.) is available at

This title is not currently available from the Greenwich library

Hardboiled Web Design by Andy Clarke

Hardboiled Web Design

So much of contemporary web design is about technique. Some may feel that the way we apply the various technologies like HTML and CSS is rule-driven but that's not the case. Of course we have a bunch of technology building blocks and there are rules about they way they are used but an understanding of the rules is only the start of the journey. Web designers also need to understand the way the rules are interpreted, what are the accepted practices and how all this understanding should be applied in order to create websites to a professional standard. Fortunately for us, Andy Clarke's Hardboiled Web Design gives us the information we won't find in the rule books.

The book was published in 2010, and I've heard Andy say that it is already out of date. Certainly, it doesn't address responsive web design but there is still enough here to make it a valuable read for those trying to understand the complexities of contemporary web design.

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Hardboiled Web Design is available at

Greenwich library: 6 copies ~ view catalogue entry

The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher

The Art of Looking Sideways

A wonderful book. Every designer should own a copy. This book is a golden treasury of design ideas, anecdotes, interesting facts and fantastic images. This is a book to reach for when you're short on inspiration. A few minutes (or hours - it's difficult to put down) later, you will feel refreshed and ready for any design challenge.

The book is best described by its author: "This book attempts to open windows to glimpse views rather than dissect the pictures on the wall. To look at things from unlikely angles. References to sources are occasionally provided to keep you going. The book has no thesis, is neither a whodunnit nor a how-to-do-it, has no beginning, middle or end. It's a journey without a destination."

The Art of Looking Sideways is available at

Greenwich library: 9 copies ~ view catalogue entry