Interesting Books for Web Programming
This is a list of books which may be of interest to students
taking Web Programming. None is required reading; you
won't be tested on this material by me.
Most have nothing to do with the
World Wide Web at all, but are about design and layout and
presentation. They're all available in the Rowan Library, but
don't check all of them out at once.
You don't need to read any of these to do well in the
I promise that if you read all of them, you'll see the world in a
- Web Design in a Nutshell, by Jennifer Niederst
- This one is about the WWW, obviously.
- The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald Norman
- Also available as The Psychology of Everyday Things,
this book discusses why some things are easy to use and
some are hard to use, by looking at what people think about
when they see an object (or, by extension, a web page).
One example concerned a faucet with a round knob: almost
everyone who tried to use it turned the knob. Nothing came
out: it was supposed to be pushed. Had the handle been a
lever, there'd have been no confusion.
There are also many examples of good designs. His evaluation of
a Lego motorcycle kit includes the remark that it's `so well designed
even an adult can assemble it without instructions.'
- The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, by Edward Tufte
- This is about how to make a good graphic, and, what is
arguably more important, how to evaluate a graphic and
see how good it is. I don't agree completely with everything
he says, but this is definitely worth reading.
He says, for example, that if you divide the amount of ink in a
diagram which actually represents data by the total ink used, you'll
get a number between 0 and 1. The closer it is to 1, the better.
One of his (bad) examples includes a diagram which is almost
entirely pointless decoration, using five colors and over
18 square inches
to represent only five numbers. Worse, the graphic colors
in some of the empty space, and leaves the region representing
actual data plain white, thus misleading the reader into
looking at the wrong thing. When looking at the diagram, I
can't understand the numbers; it's the only diagram ever
with negative content.
Another graphic represents
over 2200 numbers in a mere 21 square inches, using only black,
white, and grey. The result conveys a wealth of information
and is perfectly clear.
Understanding the relevance of a book such as this to web
programming is left as an exercise for the student.