Cool Resources

This list includes most of the references used in the book as well as a smattering of the people, writings, and research that have most influenced us in our work over the years.

This list is broken out by the following topics:

Usability and User Behavior

Don't Make Me Think

Steve Krug

If we had to pick one book on web usability, this would be it. We’ve purchased multiple copies for colleagues and clients, yet never seem to have our personal copies when we most want them because our colleagues are always stealing them. It’s amazingly informative, accessible, concise, humorous, and well designed.

Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity

Jakob Nielsen, Ph. D.

A bit more academic, this is the book that most web usability experts used in order to become web usability experts. Dr. Nielsen has been a respected usability guru, speaker, and author since before most of us were online.

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

Paco Underhill

An entertaining and utterly fascinating look into the world of product merchandising and the psychology underlying shopper behavior.

The Humane Interface

Jef Raskin

Written by the creator of the Apple Macintosh, “click-and-drag,” and a few other very usable things you may have heard of, this book explores how the human mind works and ways interactive systems could be designed to be easier for humans to learn and use. Scholarly, but engaging and written with a wry humorous slant.

The U.S. government's web site dedicated to usability. An amazingly deep resource. While the federal government may get a bad rap for poor customer service and bureaucracy, the people behind this site are doing their part to make the online experience as intuitive as possible.

User Interface Engineering is usability consultant, researcher, and trainer Jared Spool’s company. The site is full of great information, including a very informative and entertaining blog. If you ever get the chance to see Jared Spool speak, take it. He’ll make you laugh and he’ll make you think—two of our favorite pastimes.

Jakob Nielsen’s site where he writes about usability. His Alertbox columns, which date back to 1995, are a treasure trove of usability information and research.


This interdisciplinary special interest group focuses on the study and discussion of Computer- Human Interaction, “bringing together people working on the design, evaluation, implementation, and study of interactive computing systems for human use.” There are local chapters around the world, including the active San Francisco Bay Area chapter, BayCHI.

HCI Bibliography

Human-Computer Interaction Resources

The HCI Bibliography is a searchable gold mine of in-depth resources covering the gamut of Human-Computer Interaction topics. You’ll find studies, reports, journals, and books on usability, design, and all the many ways we humans interact with computers. Of special note is the HCI humor section, proving even serious usability types have a sense of humor.

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Envisioning Information (and pretty much anything else by)

Edward Tufte

Edward Tufte is a master educator on information design and how design can be used to communicate even the most complex data clearly. His one-day workshop is inspiring, educational, entertaining, and may forever change the way you think about PowerPoint.

The Design of Everyday Things (and anything else by)

Donald Norman

Originally titled the Psychology of Everyday Things, this is a classic work on product usability by one of the leading voices on design as it relates to user experience. You’ll never look at a door the same way again.

The Art of Color: The Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color

Johannes Itten

In this classic, beautiful book on color theory, artist and educator Johannes Itten explores the use and effects of color from an artistic perspective, delving into both the objective laws and perceptual experience of color. Includes color exercises and analyses of many example paintings by great masters, old and new.

The Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color

This practical reference guide to color provides a clear insight into basic color psychology, and the effects and uses of color. Includes examples of commercial color uses and a multitude of color combination swatches to kick-start the imagination.

How to See: A Guide to Reading Our Man-Made Environment

George Nelson

Originally written by legendary artist and commercial designer George Nelson, this update is a thoughtful reminder of how disparate our own perceptions may be from those of others.

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Web Design

Web Redesign 2.0 Workflow That Works

Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler

Everyone who designs and builds web sites breathed a collective sigh of relief when the first edition of this book came out in 2001. Finally someone had published a detailed methodology and explanation for how to manage web projects. Fortunately it was someone as smart and experienced as the team of Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler. If you want to learn the right process to follow for web projects, this is the book for you. Kelly is also a visionary and thought leader in the increasingly overlapping worlds of interface design, ethnography, and mobile devices. You can learn more about her work at

Anything by

Molly Holzschlag

Renowned web guru, author, consultant, and speaker, Molly is one of the people leading the web standards movement. Visionary, strategic, and really darn smart, she’s also one of the most genuine, kind, and giving people you’ll ever hope to meet.

The Elements of User Experience

Jesse James Garrett

If you want to understand the underpinnings of online user experience, this book is the best. The beautiful illustrations and diagrams combine with crystal clear explanations to make this book accessible to everyone, while the concepts are engrossing even for the expert.

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Online Marketing

Marketing Sherpa

Publisher of the most valuable — and often mind-blowing — articles, case studies, research, and reports on every aspect of online marketing. We’d rather give up our morning coffee than our MarketingSherpa membership. And that’s saying something.


The eMarketer daily newsletter is a great source for the latest web marketing statistics. And their full research reports are among the most objective and insightful around.

Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy

Nick Usborne

Nick Usborne is a talented copywriter, consultant, author, and speaker. So it goes without saying that he’s smart. But he’s also warm and fall-down funny. We regularly recommend him to clients who have a sense of humor.

Publish & Prosper: Blogging for Business

DL Byron and Steve Broback

Want to get up to speed on the why and how to do this whole blogging thing right from the start? Read this book. Entrepreneur, blogger, author, and avid cyclist DL Byron is a smart, capable guy and a heck of a speaker.

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Persuasion and Persuasive Selling

Call to Action: Secret Formulas for Improving Online Results

Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg

If you want to go deeper on the topic of conversion, this is the book for you. You can also check out their very informative blog and newsletter at The Eisenbergs are the godfathers of conversion marketing, yet remain surprisingly genuine and giving despite their success—and being from New York.

Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do

BJ Fogg, Ph.D.

In this scholarly but engaging and accessible book, Dr. BJ Fogg, director of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, draws from nine years of research to reveal how web sites, software applications, and mobile devices can be used to change people’s attitudes and behavior. Full of scary and fascinating examples. In addition to all the other brilliant things he does, BJ also organizes the highly recommended Mobile Persuasion and Persuasive Technology conferences.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Chip & Dan Heath

A refreshingly original look at what makes some concepts stick in our minds where others easily fade away. The clear framework, concrete examples, and storytelling style make for an engaging read on a fascinating topic that has surprising relevance for anyone whose job involves communicating (i.e. everyone).

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Web Analytics Demystified: A Marketer’s Guide to Understanding How Your Web Site Affects Your Business

Eric Peterson

An excellent guide on how to use web analytics to get the most out of your site. This book explains which metrics matter, how to interpret them, how to manage a site for continuous improvement, and more.

Web Metrics: Proven Methods for Measuring Web Site Success

Jim Sterne

An excellent resource for those wanting to go deeper on the topic of web metrics.

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Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Watch

The granddaddy of search engine resources, initially started by search guru Danny Sullivan. Their newsletter is excellent and their conference, Search Engine Strategies, is the biggest and best known search conference out there.

Search Engine Land

Danny and his colleague Chris Sherman have also created this site for more experienced search marketers. The newsletter is always insightful, as is the accompanying conference, Search Marketing Expo.

Thousands of people have learned the ins and outs of search engine optimization from industry expert Jill Whalen. Her web site and newsletter are full of educational content, always delivered with a dose of Jill’s personal warmth. If you want to learn how to optimize your site for search engines, this is a great place to start.

An excellent resource site for search marketers, run by the larger-than-life Rand Fishkin.

Google AdWords Handbook: 21 Ways to Maximize Results

Andrew Goodman

Andrew Goodman is one of the smartest people in the world of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. His Google AdWords handbook is far and away the best resource for learning how to get the most out of Google’s advertising platform. Andrew’s blog at is also an excellent resource, full of unique insights and good humor.


Both a search agency and a research firm, Enquiro and its founder Gord Hotchkiss are always on the cutting edge of the latest search marketing and user behavior trends.

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Other Influences

Anything by

Guy Kawasaki

Former chief evangelist at Apple and current Renaissance man Guy Kawasaki is, quite simply, brilliant. His writing is illuminating, irreverent and inspirational.

Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application


Jason Fried and his merry band of immortals at 37signals managed to produce this groundbreaking and engrossing book while continuing to launch and maintain their arsenal of innovative web-based applications now used by millions. We used their Basecamp project management tool to help us manage our book project.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Malcolm Gladwell

What does this book have to do with the web? Plenty, it turns out. Gladwell’s clear explanations and examples of peoples’ instant reactions to various situations is the perfect primer for understanding online user experience and why it’s so important to achieve the right first impression when someone lands on your site.

Marc Andreessen’s Blog

As one of the co-founders of Netscape and onetime dot-com poster boy, it would be easy to forget that Marc Andreessen created the first web browser (Mosaic) as a college student and has started various other successful companies after Netscape. His wideranging blog is full of deep thought and rare insights.

Scott Berkun’s Blog

An author, consultant, and software industry veteran, Scott writes with compelling humor, inspiration and insight on topics ranging from project management to usability and creative thinking. He writes some awesome books, too, including the Art of Project Management—be sure to check them out.

Piper Jaffray

Piper Jaffray’s research on the search and online advertising markets has been an invaluable resource for us for many years. Although our favorite analyst Safa Rashtchy has moved on, we continue to rely on their research to keep us up to speed on new developments and projections for where things are heading in this crazy online space.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project

An initiative of the Pew Research Center, this site provides key research reports on internetrelated topics, providing information on broader U.S. trends.

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