February 13, 2010, 8:48 PM — With all the competition for viewer eyeballs out there on the Internet, it's getting ever harder to make your business or personal Web site stand out from all the rest. So what's an experienced Web designer -- or a novice, for that matter -- to do? How can you create pages that entice with striking visual elements, innovative designs and ease of navigation that will help bring in viewers?
The best answer is to start out with all the latest and best tools that you can include in your Web design arsenal and use them to make your pages shine.
Here are five must-read books on modern Web design, creation and marketing that will help you design and produce gorgeous pages for your clients, your company or yourself. This collection of titles highlights some of the keys for great Web pages in 2010: how to create and use cascading style sheets (CSS), how to design pages using Web standards that will display your pages properly in any Web browser, and how to understand and use search engine optimization.
Designing with Web Standards, 3rd Edition by Jeffrey Zeldman with Ethan Marcotte (New Riders, Oct. 2009, $50)
Designing Web pages used to be an exercise in frustration because every browser used different rules to display pages. That meant that you had to build pages, then test them individually in each Web browser so you could make sure that viewers were seeing them displayed just the way you had designed them. It was a major hassle and meant that Web designers had to spend far more time than necessary to be sure everything worked everywhere.
Web standards let designers build to one specification that then can be properly displayed by all browsers that use those standards. The idea is simple: Write your code once and publish it everywhere. It took many years for all the browser makers to get on board the Web standards train, and some browsers still don't adhere to Web standards completely. But the most recent versions of the major browsers are closer than ever before -- which means that these days you really can write Web-standard code.
CSS: The Missing Manual, Second Edition by David Sawyer McFarland (O'Reilly Media/Pogue Press, Aug. 2009, $35)