Most of my first two years of higher education were spent in a dark room with ten to fifteen other people, drawing from a still life or live model. Sometimes we were loosed outside to sit in the frigid autumns of Canada to commit a landscape to paper. Later on, I started getting more design, more web development, more programming and the days spent sitting in the frigid autumns of Canada turned into days and nights sitting in the frigid autumns of Canada with a laptop. In that time, I was given a list every semester of the textbooks I’d need. I would go out and purchase these textbooks and promise myself every single semester that I would read them and be enlightened. I amassed fifty or so books, possibly more than I don’t remember and I didn’t read a single one all the way through.
It wasn’t until I graduated that I finally sat down and went through any of those books. Well, it’s never too late to be enlightened. Of those books, here are some useful design books (including some I went out of my way to read after graduation).
Some Useful Design Books
Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro
Monteiro is one of the founders of Mule Design, and is a treasure trove of practical knowledge related to the web design industry. He talks about everything from the importance of contracts, how to deal with clients, how to work with other creatives, and how and why it’s important you get paid for what you do.
Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton
Not the most detailed book on type, but if you’re intimidated by typography, Thinking With Type lays out the basics in an easy to digest manner. Great for undergrads who need to get their feet wet in typographic basics. If you’re a practicing professional who just needs a refresher, this book is a great quick read.
The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
Bringhurst’s book seems to be required reading for most type enthusiasts and designers. It outlines ideas and theories all related to typography and design. I found it to be equal parts clever and useful. Be aware that this can be a bit of a slog, so take your time.
The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web by Richard Rutter & Steve Marshall
The quintessential typographic style concepts applied to web design. I found this invaluable, and best of all, it’s free!
Making and Breaking the Grid by Timothy Samara
Describes various grid structures used in graphic design that could easily be reworked for the web as well. Invaluable book about organizing information and presenting it in fascinating ways.
Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte
Tablets and mobile device use is on the rise and web designers need to stay on top of the game. Responsive Web Design applies CSS and Design techniques for the mobile device.
There are more useful design books where that came from because design and especially web design is an ever evolving beast. Reading and gathering inspiration is as much a part of being a designer as actually designing.