Design Reads: Top 10 Staff Picks


At NoD, our definition of ‘summer reading’ does not rely on Oprah’s Book Club nor the current 3-part novel everyone is raving about; or refusing to pick up. No, our summer reads are inspired by the pulse of the industry and our hunger for design.

Our well-informed and curious staff compiled a list of great books by industry experts that they have read or want to read – just in time for all those summer vacations we plan on taking…(Clearly this is sarcasm. If you are a designer, you laugh in the face of vacation and have convinced yourself you not only despise the beach and the sun, but you also refuse to be anywhere that does not have wifi and a work space!)

These design books are instructional, inspirational, informative and most of all, intriguing. From graphic design, Web design, typography, branding and much more, this list covers almost all the bases, enjoy!

1. HTML5 Cookbook by Christopher Schmitt

The HTML5 Cookbook is written in a Problem-Solution-Discussion pattern for each HTML5 feature covered, with plenty of references to external websites for more information and discussion. The segments are grouped in chapters that start with the most simple and common HTML features before advancing to the most complex. A great read to easily and effectively understand the new elements in HTML5 and get straight to applying them.

2. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Not the newest of the bunch, but still widely relevant, Don’t Make me Think is not solely about Web usability but more of a guide book of what to do based on tactics proven to work. Published in 2005, this book is surprisingly on point for the state the Web has evolved into today. This is also great for marketers, developers, project managers and content writers who want to better understand how to make a Website work. There are 3 new chapters added to this edition.

3. Above the Fold by Brian Miller

This book provides everything you need to build a strong foundation for a successful Web site. The content and flow of this book is easy to read through and there are also plenty of visuals to support the content. With real world examples in action and theory to back it up, this is a great tool for a sensible and well thought out approach to Web design.

4. Graphic Design Thinking: Beyond Brainstorming by Ellen Lupton

I think we can all agree that Ellen Lupton is a genius, and this book does not fall short of her stellar reputation. In this book, she breaks down and explains the three basic phases of the design process: defining the problem, inventing ideas, and creating form. Change the way you look at the world and gain a better understanding for the process of design that creates everything around you.

5. Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman

This book contains 20 interviews with industry leaders and an all-star list of contributors including Tom Peters and Malcolm Gladwell, to name a few. A highly entertaining, relatable and informative read, you will not be able to put this book down. What better way to learn more about the process and purpose behind branding than to read true accounts from industry leaders?

6. Return on Influence by Mark Schaefer

A fascinating look at the evolution of marketing, Return on Influence helps us understand online influence in the Digital Age and how best to go about establishing yourself or your brand as influential in your industry via social media. Schaefer also reviews innovative companies, like Klout, which measure social media influence with a score. It’s a must-read for individuals and companies who crave influence and desire to increase word-of-mouth power on the social web.

7. 2012 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market by Mary Burzlaff Bostic

This is a great yearly investment to evaluate the current market for designers and artists. With professional advice ad insight into what industry leaders, such as publishers etc, are looking for in the graphic arts field, this is a must read for all designers and artists. A great review of the market for emerging artists with resources you will end up using daily.

8. Thinking with Type, 2nd Revised and Expanded Edition by Ellen Lupton

Yes, Ellen Lupton again. This revised and expanded edition of the original best-seller released in 2010 has 48 pages of new content. Someone new to the field could use this highly accessible content, as well as experienced graphic artists and anyone who works with type. From the printed page to the computer screen, Thinking with Type explores and defines visual communication with type.

9. Symbol by Steven Bateman

With over 1300 symbols organized into groups and sub-groups, Symbol is a great source for inspiration and understanding of the use of symbols in the everyday world. This book gives a thorough understand of the purpose and vision for the symbols that define brands from around the world. This is a very useful resource for students and professionals.

10. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

A classic. This book is applicable to all designers, artists, and creatives to ignite inspiration and put a purpose to their process. Find your creative confidence, or if you have a strong hold on it, learn to evolve and tap into the inner workings of your brain to turn anything into a masterpiece. This book will not disappoint and, if you’ve read it, you wouldn’t do any harm by picking it up again.

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