MA Web Design & Content Planning

Content management


JavaScript & jQuery by Jon Duckett

Javascript and JQuery

Jon Duckett’s JavaScript & jQuery is a very rare thing. It’s a book on a technical subject that is designed to be read by anyone. We have waited a long time for such a book on JavaScript; most books assume that the reader already understands the basics or is aiming for some higher level of JavaScript geekdom. This is a book for the rest of us, those who know little or nothing about JavaScript but who need to develop a good understanding of it, so we can take advantage of its undoubted powers to enhance our beautifully designed user interfaces.

The key to the success of this book is in it’s design. It will appeal to those who care about design just as much as code and it is therefore ideally suited to our programme. Naturally, it helps that Jon’s descriptions and explanations are clear and concise and that the illustrations and typography are immensely helpful in conveying this information to the reader.

If I were running classes in how to write an effective technical textbook, this would be my number one example of how to do it well.

Stockwell Street Library: 9 copies (click for availability).

JavaScript & jQuery is available also from Amazon.co.uk.

Also consider: Eloquent JavaScript: A Modern Introduction to Programming by Marijn Haverbeke if you’d prefer a more traditional text.

PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Websites (5th edition) by Larry Ullman

PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Websites

Sometimes it seems as though there are as many books about web development as there are web developers. Certainly, when it comes to PHP, the choice is wide and varied. However, although I’ve now read a number of books on server-side development, I keep returning to the first book I ever read on the subject, Larry Ullman’s PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Websites. Why this book? Well, because the format is neat and the approach is logical. Everyone has their own way of learning and this is the book that fits for me but I suspect it’s not just me; Ullman makes the learning curve not too steep, never assumes anything and keeps explanations clear and succinct.

At 700 pages, the book is comprehensive enough to cover everything a beginner needs to know, including a chapter on jQuery. It manages to be both a reference and a learning guide, with chapters on specific topics and some example projects to reinforce the learning.

Stockwell Street Library: 10 copies of 4th edition (click for availability).

PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Websites (5th edition) is also available at Amazon.co.uk.

Also consider: PHP Solutions: Dynamic Web Design Made Easy (2nd edition) by David Powers.

Inclusive Design Patterns by Heydon Pickering

Adaptive Design Patterns

Finally, a book that addresses accessibility as a quality and not a feature. Heydon Pickering believes that interfaces should have accessibility baked in and this book explores how, by good visual design and good coding, we can apply that ideal to common design patterns.

The book is full of good advice and best practice, all supported by practical examples and illustrated with clear code snippets. It’s written in a clear and unambiguous manner — you’re never left in any doubt about the right way forward.

I love the way this book begins by making the distinction between the Graphic Designer, the Designer Who Codes and the Inclusive Designer. We should all aspire to become inclusive designers and this is the book that will help us achieve that goal.

Stockwell Street Library: 10 copies (click for availability).

Inclusive Design Patterns is also available at Smashing Books.

Also consider: The Accessibility Handbook by Katie Cunningham and Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance by Jim Thatcher et. al.

Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content That Works (2nd edition) by Janice Redish

Good websites need a content strategy and good web designers need to know how to develop content strategies and how to write web content that works for any given website. There are a number of excellent books covering this important (but often overlooked) aspect of web design. Ideally, you’ve already read Erin Kissane’s The Elements of Content Strategy, which gives a concise overview of the subject area but when it comes down to the nitty gritty of actually writing web content, Letting Go of the Words provides a very useful and practical guide.

The book begins by explaining how people use websites (skim and scan) and then goes on to explain the importance of understanding your users and their context. The book then goes on to discuss how best to write and organise content for the different parts of a website (the homepage etc.), focussing on the appropriateness of the tone, style and personality of the words. It also considers the structure of content and describes the importance of headings and other components. All the while, the advice is set within the context of accessibility and SEO and this book really works hard at providing a complete approach to the careful curation of content on websites.

Stockwell Street Library: 10 copies (click for availability).

Letting Go of the Words (2nd edition) is also available at Amazon.co.uk.

Also consider: The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane, Content Strategy for the Web (2nd edition) by Kristina Halvorson and Clout: the Art and Science of Influential Web Content by Colleen Jones.