Over the past year or so we have published several articles featuring a selection of the best free ebooks for web designers, with each post proving very popular and highly resourceful. Sadly, since then some of the fantastic ebooks we previously featured are no longer available or are no longer been offered as a freebie. But looking on the positive side many new web design ebooks have been released and, as you will see within this post, there are also a few ebooks, recommended by our readers, which we missed in those previous articles.
Just as we did with the previous posts we have not offered a critique of each book only a description of the content, as we feel that if someone spends so much valuable time writing an entire specialized book and then offer it for free, in our eyes they deserve only praise and appreciation.
All of the 45 books in this post are completely FREE and can be either downloaded in digital format (PDF) or viewed as a web page (HTML).
This guide is especially handy if you haven’t done a lot of webdesign yet or if you are involved in webdesign but don’t do any of the real work. I hope to shed some light on some common interface elements and mistakes people often make with them.
A lot of books have been written in the past but the threshold for reading them, especially if you have never built a site, is quite big, hence this short guide. This is by no means a complete guide or solid set of rules, but it is definitely a good start.
Introduction to Good Usability →PDF →
Written by Aaron Cannon, blind web developer and accessibility consultant.Aaron explains in his article “The Accessibility Checklist I Vowed I’d Never Write”, that the problems with a “simple checklist that, when followed, will give you an accessible site without fail.” No such checklist exists or likely ever will. He believes that this list is not the perfect solution, nor is it the only solution, but believes it is a good first step, and it gives our developers and designers a place to start from.
Web Accessibility Checklist →PDF →
A CSS System is a reusable set of content-oriented markup patterns and associated CSS created to express a site's individual design. It is the end result of a process that emphasizes up-front planning, loose coupling between CSS and markup, pre-empting browser bugs and overall robustness. It also incorporates a shared vocabulary for developers to communicate the intent of the code.
This ebook elaborates on this concept, and also describes a number of tricks used to preempt maintainability issues.
CSS Systems For Writing Maintainable CSS →PDF →
Font embedding for the web is a great step in making the web look better and become more functional, but what about security and load times?
Bram Pitoyo’s ebook takes the top layer off font embedding and shows us how things work, and ultimately how to improve performance and make it more secure.
Faster, and More Secure Webfonts →PDF →
A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web aims to teach you techniques for designing your website using the principles of graphic design.
Featuring five sections, each covering a core aspect of graphic design: Getting Started, Research, Typography, Colour, and Layout. Learn solid graphic design theory that you can simply apply to your designs, making the difference from a good design to a great one.
Designing for the Web →HTML Version →
This book was originally written in 2001 for print designers whose clients want websites, print art directors who’d like to move into full–time web and interaction design, homepage creators who are ready to turn pro, and professionals who seek to deepen their web skills and understanding.
The dot-com crash killed this book. Now it lives again. While browser references and modem speeds may reek of 2001, much of the advice about transitioning to the web still holds true.
Taking Your Talent to the Web →PDF →
Dive Into HTML 5 is an ongoing book that seeks to elaborate on a hand-picked Selection of features from the HTML5 specification and other fine Standards. The final manuscript will be eventually published on paper by O’Reilly, under the Google Press imprint.
Dive Into HTML 5 →HTML Version →
jQuery Fundamentals →HTML Version →
Put simply this book is the result of a series of emails sent back and forth between the two authors during the development of a library for the .NET framework of the same name. The conversation started of something like "Why don't we create a more aesthetically pleasing way to present our pseudocode?" After a few weeks this new presentation style had in fact grown into pseudocode listings with chunks of text describing how the data structure or algorithm in question works and various other things about it. At this point we thought, "What the
heck, let's make this thing into a book!"
Data Structures and Algorithms →PDF →
Design Your Imagination is a one stop resource for the beginners and learners of website design. Though this e-book is mainly targeted for the beginners of website design, it might prove helpful for the experienced web designers as well. This free web design e-book is clearly divided into 28 chapters and in each chapter a specific topic is illustrated with ample examples. The language is as lucid as possible and proper care has been taken to keep intact the flow of writing.
Design Your Imagination →PDF →
Device-agnostic mobile apps are the wave of the future, and this book shows you how to create one product that can be used on several mobile operating systems. You'll find guidelines for using the free PhoneGap framework to converty our product into a native Android app. And you'll learn why releasing your product as a web app first helps you find, fix, and test bugs much faster than if you went straight to the Android Market with a product built with the official Android SDK.
The Web Book contains all the information you need to create a Web site from scratch. It covers everything from registering a domain name and renting some hosting space, to creating your first HTML page, to building full online database applications with PHP and MySQL. It also tells you how to market and promote your site, and how to make money from it.
The Web Book →PDF →
For too long typographic style and its accompanying attention to detail have been overlooked by website designers, particularly in body copy. In years gone by this could have been put down to the technology, but now the web has caught up. The advent of much improved browsers, text rendering and high resolution screens, combine to negate technology as an excuse.
In order to allay some of the myths surrounding typography on the web, this website/book has been structured to step through Bringhurst’s working principles, explaining how to accomplish each using techniques available in HTML and CSS. The future is considered with coverage of CSS3, and practicality is ever present with workarounds, alternatives and compromises for less able browsers.
The Elements of Typographic Style (Full HTML) →Chapters →
The Web is providing unprecedented access to information and interaction for people with disabilities. It provides opportunities to participate in society in ways otherwise not available. With accessible websites, people with disabilities can do ordinary things: children can learn, teenagers can flirt, adults can make a living, seniors can read about their grandchildren, and so on.
With the Web, people with disabilities can do more things themselves, without having to rely on others. People who are blind can read the newspaper (through screen readers that read aloud text from the computer), and so can people with cognitive disabilities who have trouble processing written information. People who are deaf can get up-to-the-minute news that was previously available only to those who could hear radio or TV, and so can people who are blind and deaf (through dynamic Braille displays). Web accessibility is about removing those barriers so that people with disabilities can use and contribute to the Web.
This book helps you improve your products—websites, software, hardware, and consumer products—to remove accessibility barriers and avoid adding new barriers. One guiding principle is: just ask people with disabilities.
Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design: HTML version →Table of Contents →
Want to build a successful web app? Then it's time to Get Real. Getting Real is a smaller, faster, better way to build software.
Getting Real delivers better results because it forces you to deal with the actual problems you're trying to solve instead of your ideas about those problems. It forces you to deal with reality.
Getting Real foregoes functional specs and other transitory documentation in favor of building real screens. A functional spec is make-believe, an illusion of agreement, while an actual web page is reality. That's what your customers are going to see and use. That's what matters. Getting Real gets you there faster. And that means you're making software decisions based on the real thing instead of abstract notions.
Finally, Getting Real is an approach ideally suited to web-based software. The old school model of shipping software in a box and then waiting a year or two to deliver an update is fading away. Unlike installed software, web apps can constantly evolve on a day-to-day basis. Getting Real leverages this advantage for all its worth.
Getting Real: HTML Version →Chapters →
Access by Design Online (HTML)
We design Web sites so people can use them. People doesn’t mean “some people” or “certain people.” With universal usability, our goal is to design Web sites that accommodate the diversity of people and the Web browsing devices that they use. To design Web sites that people can use, we must work within the flexible framework that the Web provides.
To this end, we must begin our process with a solid understanding of how the Web works. When we know its nature, we can make intelligent design decisions that uphold rather than impede its functionality. Whenever we face a decision that may impact function, we must look for other options.
Access by Design Online: HTML Version →Table of Contents →
The Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines (Guidelines) were developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the U.S. General Services Administration.
The Guidelines were developed to assist those involved in the creation of Web sites to base their decisions on the most current and best available evidence. The Guidelines are particularly relevant to the design of information-oriented sites, but can be applied across the wide spectrum of Web sites.
Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines(PDF) →
Search User Interfaces (HTML)
This book outlines the human side of the information seeking process, and focuses on the aspects of this process that can best be supported by the user interface. It describes the methods behind user interface design generally, and search interface design in particular, with an emphasis on how best to evaluate search interfaces. It discusses research results and current practices surrounding user interfaces for query specification, display of retrieval results, grouping retrieval results, navigation of information collections, query reformulation, search personalization, and the broader tasks of sensemaking and text analysis. Much of the discussion pertains to Web search engines, but the book also covers the special considerations surrounding search of other information collections.
Search User Interfaces: HTML Version →Search User Interfaces: Table of Contents →
Dive Into Accessibility (HTML & PDF)
This book is entitled "Dive Into Accessibility: 30 days to a more accessible web site", and it will answer two questions. The first question is "Why should I make my web site more accessible?" If you do not have a web site, this book is not for you. The second question is "How can I make my web site more accessible?" If you are not convinced by the first answer, you will not be interested in the second.
To answer the second question,the book presents 25 tips that you can immediately apply to your own web site to make it more accessible. Although these concepts apply to all web sites, the focus is on implementation using popular weblogging tools. If you use some other publishing tool or template system, you will need to determine how to implement the tips in your tool of choice.
HTML Version →PDF Version →Chapters →
Written by Patrick J. Lynch and Sarah Horton for web site designers in corporations, government, nonprofit organizations, and academic institutions, the book explains established design principles and covers all aspects of web design—from planning to production to maintenance. The guide also shows how these principles apply in web design projects whose primary concerns are information design, interface design, and efficient search and navigation.
Web Style Guide 3rd Edition: HTML Version →Chapters →
The Woork Handbook (PDF)
The Woork Handbook is a free eBook about CSS, HTML, Ajax, web programming, Mootools, Scriptaculous and other topics about web design.
This book is a miscellanea of articles written by Antonio Lupetti on his web design blogr. During the period form January to December 2008 “Woork” has been visited from over 4 millions visitors and has received a lot of requests to distribute a printable version of its contents.
The Woork Handbook: PDF Version →
Web Designer's Success Guide is the definitive guide to starting your own freelance Web design business. In this book, Kevin Airgid gives designers a step-by-step instructions on how to achieve the following: Transition from full-time to self-employment, Freelance on the side to make additional income, Find new clients and keep them coming back for more, Market your freelance business, Manage your projects professionally and how to Price your services appropriately.
Web Designers Success Guide: PDF Version →
The book is aimed at the beginning programmer ― people with prior programming experience might also get something out of it, but they should not read chapters 2 to 5 too closely, because most of the concepts discussed there will probably be nothing new to them. Do make sure you read the end of the first chapter, which has some essential information about the book itself.
Ruby Best Practices (PDF)
In 1993, when Ruby was born, Ruby had nothing. No user base except for Gregory and a few close friends. No tradition. No idioms except for a few inherited from Perl.
But the language forms the community. The community nourishes the culture. In the last decade, users increased—hundreds of thousands of programmers fell in love with Ruby. They put great effort into the language and its community. Projects were born. Idioms tailored for Ruby were invented and introduced. Ruby was influenced by Lisp and other functional programming languages. Ruby formed relationships between technologies and methodologies such as test-driven development and duck typing.
This book introduces a map of best practices of the language as of 2009.
Ruby Best Practices: PDF Version →
This guide introduces you to just the main elements of HTML5 that you’ll probably want to use right away. This guide is for those who want to get the basics figured out first, and worry about the finer details later on.
HTML5 Quick Learning Guide →PDF →
This Web FontFont User Guide contains information aimed at web developers, system administrators and website visitors.
Section B is for web developers, showing how to get started using Web FontFonts for display on your website. Section C contains information for system administrators about which configuration changes may be necessary to successfully serve webfonts from your web server and, finally, section D outlines some issues visitors of your website may experience in connection to webfonts and may assist site owners in answering webfont-related support requests.
Web Font User Guide →PDF →
This book has been made to help you learn the 10 broad classifications of type. These are the basic foundations of what you need to learn to learn typography and it is essential for any designer to know how to classify type. This book goes through the 10 type classifications with a brief history as well as the key characteristics of each.
Type Classification eBook →PDF →
Pocket Guide to SEO contains everything you could want to know about SEO. Buried deep inside its pages you’ll find tips, tricks, general information about search engines, and how you can make them work for you – in a completely ethical way, of course.
Forty’s Pocket Guide to SEO →PDF →
The “Why design?” booklet outlines the role of design in business strategy. It seeks a common framework for why design adds value to clients’ interests. It defines the power of Designing, a larger concept that includes strategy as well as artifacts across a variety of disciplines.
Why design? →PDF →
From the authour of this manifesto, Stephen Hay: "Would you like a process which would help translate the often vague, unclear wishes of your clients (and yourself, for that matter) into a clear and solid basis for your design? This manifesto will show you how."
The Design Funnel: A Manifesto for Meaningful Design →PDF →
Written by HughMacLeod, an advertising executive and popular blogger with a flair for the creative. He offers his 26 tried-and-true tips for being truly creative with each point being illustrated by a cartoon drawn by the author himself.
How To Be Creative →PDF →
Who's There is not an ebook about how to write better or how to follow the traditional conventions about formatting and building a blog. Instead, he talks about how building a blog asset can have a spectacular impact on you, your career, your organization and your ideas.
Who's There? →PDF →
AIGA worked with the Dutch Archives for Graphic Designers (NAGO) in the Netherlands to publish an English version of A Concise Guide to Archiving for Designers. The guide provides designers with the proper ways to store and describe their collections in 10 short chapters.
A Concise Guide to Archiving for Designers →PDF →