Bookshelf:

Whether you're a potential client, or an aspiring developer: you need to understand what goes into a good Web site. Global Access recommends the books listed below to learn more about Web usability, Web development, and Web application programming.

Note: Our recommendations link to Amazon.com, where we receive a small affiliate commission from each book sale made using the links below. (We use this commission to buy additional books for review.) While we hope you will use our direct links if you choose to order one or more of these books, we will never recommend a book that we have not personally read, used, and approved: our book recommendations stand, even if we were to receive no commission from their sales.

All reviews are written by Michael Liu, and are the intellectual property of Global Access: this copyrighted information may not be reprinted or retransmitted—in whole or in part—without the express written consent of Global Access Group.

All book ratings below are based on a maximum score of 5 stars.

Required Reading: Web Usability

Who? These books should be read by every Web site developer, programmer, or designer. The first two books should also be read by all business managers responsible for overseeing the development of their company's Web site: the knowledge will help guide you through business decisions directly related to your online presence.

Why? Because usability is the most important feature of a Web site. If your visitors cannot easily use your site, they will leave. And then your site's stunning designs, powerful tools, and compelling content will be of no consequence.

Know this: When a world of choices are just a mouse-click away, it doesn't take much "frustration-factor" to lose a visitor to a more user-friendly Web site. ~ Ancient Chinese proverb, circa 2004 AD.

Don't Make Me Think

Don't Make Me Think – A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (2nd Ed).
By Steve Krug.

If you are to own only one book about building a Web site, this should be it!

The phrase common sense in the sub-title of this book should be emphasized because common sense is so rarely applied in the development of Web sites.

Steve not only explains how visitors use your Web site (and how you can make it easier for them), but he does so in a concise and engaging narrative that makes the subject interesting, as well as informative. This well-illustrated and easy-to-read book, is thankfully short: less than 200 pages. Yet it is packed with great ideas and insight on how to improve the usability of your Web site.

If you have anything to do with the planning or development of Web sites, buy this book now and study it often.

For all audiences, Global Access rates this book 5 stars for content, and 5 stars for readability and ease-of-understanding.

Web Bloopers

Web Bloopers – 60 Common Web Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.
By Jeff Johnson.

Perhaps the second most important title for your bookshelf.

Addressing far more than just Web design problems, this book should have been sub-titled: "60 Common Web Development Mistakes and How to Avoid Them."

A denser, more in-depth book than "Don't Make Me Think," this publication is still a fascinating read. Each of the 60 Web "blooper" topics is illustrated with educational—and occasionally humorous—case studies of bad and good practices from real-world Web sites (at the time of the writing).

Don't let your Web site be chosen as a "bad example" for a future edition of this book: buy the current edition now and learn to avoid the most common and egregious mistakes in developing Web sites.

For all audiences, Global Access rates this book 5 stars for content, and 4 stars for readability and ease-of-understanding.

Speed Up Your Site

Speed Up Your Site – Web Site Optimization.
By Andrew B. King.

Why is a technical tome on source code optimization being reviewed under the topic of "Usability"? Because if your site takes too long to download and display, your visitors won't wait around to use it! The Web is all about instant gratification: surfers want it fast and they want it NOW! Don't make them wait.

Many developers are so used to high-speed broadband connections, they forget that roughly 75% of the world still connects to the Web via slow dial-up modems. This book will help you learn how to cut every last second of wasted download and execution time out of your Web site.

However, this book is for advanced developers, who will apply the lessons with judicious caution, and will conduct thorough testing of page rendering and performance. Do not blindly follow all the advice in this book without understanding exactly what you are doing and why: some of the methods discussed sacrifice standards-compliance and good coding practices in exchange for more lightweight code.

For technical audiences, Global Access rates this book 4 stars for content, and 4 stars for readability and ease-of-understanding.