Web Design Books

I try not to buy too many web design books as web design is such a rapidly changing subject that most books about web design are out of date within a few months of hitting the shelves! However there are a few web design books that I've found to be really useful and I've listed them below. Many of these books have sample chapters available for reading on Amazon, so I've included links to Amazon where available for those that would like to buy a book or read reviews or sample chapters (just click on the book's title to be whisked off to Amazon).

Note: I added most of the books below to my website when I first created the site back in 2001. As such many may not be of much use in modern web design/development. I've left them here for historical purposes.

Please Note: Murray Moffatt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Dynamic HTML – The Definitive Reference
by Danny Goodman

Dynamic HTML is one of those subjects where it's very hard to be totally definitive (mainly because different browsers interpret specifications differently and add their own "features"); but Danny Goodman has done a great job of ferreting out all these differences. The best part of the book is that Danny actually tells you which browsers support which features, and he stresses the importance of trying to make your code browser-neutral. I've read plenty of other books that ignore this problem and simply decide to concentrate on IE and ignore Firefox, Opera and others; thankfully this book isn't one of those.

As well as a reference to the DOM (Document Object Model) the author also includes references for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), HTML, and JavaScript. If you're a real beginner at HTML then this book isn't for you (it makes no attempt at trying to teach the reader to program in JavaScript), but if you're a professional looking for a good reference guide then this book is invaluable.

Core PHP Programming
by Leon Atkinson

This was the first PHP book that I every bought and I'm sure glad I got it! The book covers installing PHP and getting it to work on your server, scripting basics, a language tutorial (i.e. variables, data types, flow control, etc), and a huge reference of hundreds of functions.

Even though I had been programming with PHP for about a year before I purchased this book I still found it incredibly useful both as a reference guide (there's no way someone can remember all those PHP functions, there's hundreds of them!) and as a memory jogger when I forget exactly how something works. Sure, most of the contents can be found online but I prefer a real book to look at.

PHP 4 Bible
by Tim Converse, Joyce Park

Another very handy PHP book to have. Interesting, real-world topics are covered (i.e. how to write secure PHP code that protects you against hackers). You really need some programming experience in another language as this book isn't for non-programmers.

PHP 4 Developer's Guide
by Blake Schwendiman

This book contains lots of practical information about using PHP in real-world situations. I particularly liked the way the author stressed the importance of proper software engineering techniques. Some of the chapters that really stood out, mainly because they are poorly covered by other PHP books that I've read, include authentication, browser independence, debugging, and non-website uses for PHP. 392 of the 775 pages, i.e. roughly half the book, are an alphabetical function reference which is pretty much the same as the official PHP documentation.

PHP 5 Power Programming
by Andi Gutmans, Stig Bakken, Derick Rethans

If you're already quite experienced with PHP and are wanting to find out more about PHP 5, then this is the book for you!

A brief introduction to PHP is supplied (and I even learned a few new things!) before diving in to the new version 5 features: object-oriented capabilities (from properties and methods to polymorphism, interfaces, and reflection), improved XML support, error handling, etc.

Also provided are interesting chapters on PEAR, performance optimization, writing PHP extensions, shell scripting, etc.

Dreamweaver MX: Advanced PHP Web Development
by Gareth Downes-Powell, Tim Green, Allan Kent, Bruno Mairlot, George McLachlan, Dan Radigan

I had used Dreamweaver versions 3 and 4 in the past with hand-coded PHP code, but when I upgraded to Dreamweaver MX I found the built-in support for PHP and MySQL to be a real boon. This book has all the usual information for PHP beginners (i.e. data types, operators, control structures, etc) but where it really shines is in its coverage of error handling, building your own server behaviors, using PHP for sending e-mail, XML, and combining PHP and Flash. Also included are two practical case studies: an on-line training log and a complete content management system.

Building Dreamweaver 4 & Dreamweaver UltraDev 4 Extensions
by Tom Muck and Ray West

This is a very useful book for those that are interested in extending Dreamweaver and UltraDev with their own objects, behaviors, floaters, property inspectors, commands, etc. You could find all the included information buried in the official Macromedia documentation, and amongst the many excellent websites that deal with extensions, but for those of us that prefer an old fashioned book then this is the one for you!

by Paul DuBois

Quite probably the only MySQL book you'll ever need! Everything from installing MySQL and getting it running through to how its security works, accessing it via programming languages (C, Perl, PHP), using the add-on tools, and of course how to use SQL for creating, deleting and retrieving data. There are lots of examples. This book is highly recommended to anyone using MySQL; truly definitive.

Getting Hits
by Don Sellers

I found this to be a really useful book that explained lots of different methods to promote a website. All of the usual topics are covered (i.e. search engines and how to get a good ranking on them, trading links, announcement sites, award sites, banner advertising, etc), as well as lots of off-line methods of promotion (i.e. press releases, print advertisements, etc). It's nice to see that the author takes netiquette seriously and points out that certain promotion techniques (i.e. email spamming) may actually hurt your site more than help it.

Web Word Wizardry
by Rachel McAlpine

Lots of advice on how to write for the web and make online content readable. Not only will your website be more interesting to visitors but the tips and tricks will help your website with search engines and get people to trust you so they make purchases from your website.