Frequently Recommended Books for Webmasters

Useful books for web designers, web developers, and webmasters

Useful Books for Webmasters, Web Developers and Web Designers

Listed on this page are some books for webmasters, web designers, and web programmers that are either frequently recommended by others as being good books or books that I myself have found useful. Although it is possible to learn many things about web site and server management and programming from the Internet itself (such as through the learning resources available from, I actually do keep a few books handy for reference.

Note that the books listed below are not free. For free tutorials for webmasters, web developers and web designers check out Free Webmaster Tutorials and Articles. The books listed here are printed (ie, hardcopy) books that you have to buy from either a local bookstore or order from an online store like

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Prioritizing Web Usability

This book by Jakob Nielsen and Hoa Loranger deals with how you get improve the usability of your website. It is based on usability tests conducted by Nielsen across huge numbers of websites, and includes tips on how you can improve the user experience on your site, things you should do and not do on your website, search engine optimization, etc. The range of topics dealt with in the book is wide, and each topic is treated in sufficient depth to help you when making design decisions on your website.

General Books for Webmasters

Webmaster in a Nutshell (3rd Edition)

Although I seldom bother with desktop quick reference guides, I made an exception with this O'Reilly Nutshell book. In fact, the worn-out state of my copy is a testimony of its usefulness to me. The guide deals with HTML (including things like forms, frames and tables), PHP, CGI programming, XML, cascading style sheets (CSS), JavaScript, and the Apache modules. I like this guide because it not only covers all the topics I want for web design (except Perl), it has sufficient coverage for each topic to make it actually useful. For example, it is not just a reference guide - it actually has a short tutorial on each topic to help get you started. In fact, it's my only HTML and PHP book (at the time I write this).

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) Books

CSS: The Definitive Guide

This book, by Eric A Meyer, is a must-have if you are coding cascading style sheets (CSS) by hand, that is, not using a WYSIWYG web editor. In fact, even if you are using a WYSIWYG editor, having this book as a reference is probably also useful, particularly when something don't work out the way you expect it to do. The book covers selectors, inheritance, values and units (numbers, length units, etc), fonts, text properties, padding, borders, margins, colours, floating and positioning, table layout, lists, designing for not-screen media, etc. The book is also useful as a tutorial for someone wanting to get his/her hands dirty with CSS since the book has numerous examples and lots of explanation.

Eric Meyer on CSS: Mastering the Language of Web Design

This book, by the CSS guru Eric Meyer, is a practical tutorial of sorts on how to use CSS to implement a variety of designs for your website. There are many practical projects included, and readers are taught how they can implement menus, design a multicolumn layouts, create an online greeting cards, create an events calendar, style links, press releases, forms, etc.

More Eric Meyer on CSS (Voices That Matter)

This is a follow-up book on Eric Meyer's first volume, Eric Meyer on CSS: Mastering the Language of Web Design (see above for a brief review). It contains more hands-on real-world projects that the reader can learn from to design his/her website. There is more on designing CSS-driven menus, like a CSS drop down menu, creating list-based menus, background positioning, styling a weblog (blog), designing home pages, styling a financial report, styling a photo collection, styling attractive tabs, etc.

Perl and CGI Books

Programming Perl

This is my personal favourite on Perl and is also the most frequently recommended book on writing Perl programs. This is hardly surprising, since the authors of this book are heavyweights in the Perl scene and include the creator of Perl itself, Larry Wall. Programming Perl functions both as an introduction to the language and a reference for it. I like the tutorial at the start of the book because it's concise: it does not belabour the obvious nor is it tediously long-winded before getting to the crux of the matter. It should be noted though that the tutorial is probably more useful if you have had some prior programming experience. If you don't, you might want to look for one of the other tutorials listed on this page. You should still however get this book as a reference. A must-have for Perl programmers.

CGI Programming with Perl (2nd Edition)

This book describes how you can write CGI scripts using Perl. It has many handy examples on a whole range of topics that are directly relevant to CGI programmers. For example, it deals with (and provides code on) how to handle form input, environment variables,, sending email, security, HTML templates, databases (SQL), cookies, searching, creating graphics, debugging, etc. I find it a useful book to have around if you're writing scripts.

Learning Perl

This well-written book has served as an easy and frequently recommended tutorial, introducing Perl programming, to countless programmers. It is designed for the Unix user; if you use Perl on Win32 (Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, whatever), you might prefer Learning Perl on Win32 Systems instead, which is basically the same book with adjustments to suit the Windows user.

Javascript Books

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide

This well-known JavaScript guide written by David Flanagan functions well both as a tutorial to the language as well as a reference. If you don't have a reference for JavaScript and write a lot of JavaScript, this book will serve as an invaluable aid.

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