Other questions that deal with book recommendations do not address my particular need. I'm looking for web design books that teach me how to design using specific techniques and elements. Such as background textures, tasteful buttons, 'web 2.0' design elements... etc...

I want a book that will show me the tricks I need to create such design elements. Something to show me how to design rather than teach design principles.

Can you recommend some titles? If not a book, can you recommend specific tutorials or websites that teach these tricks?

I would describe myself as a developer who is frustrated by his inability to leverage tools like Photoshop and others to create "pretty looking" designs, buttons, and web elements.

There are plenty of sources of inspiration out there, but they do me no good because I haven't the foggiest idea how to create a stylish button, or a nice textured background, etc...

  • This could benefit being a community wiki, where one answer contains one "specific technique" so more resources would be more easily added by the community. Other option would be that, if @Mohamad has a specific technique already in mind, the question would deal with just that one. Commented May 24, 2011 at 9:01
  • + Though not to forget that this question already has two great general book/site recommendations. Commented May 24, 2011 at 9:03

4 Answers 4


Contrary to popular belief you don't need to know how

to use Photoshop to design for the web.

enter image description here

A growing trend and very modern technique is "Designing in the Browser"

Designing in the browser is using HTML and CSS markup to create your design.

  1. It saves time money and resources.

  2. It eliminates the problem and misunderstanding clients have when the finished website does not look the same as the static visuals you showed them.

I invite you to watch Andy Clark's presentation that eventually became the basis of the book below.

If you want to learn some actual techniques on using CSS3 and HTML5, I recommend Andy Clark's Hardboiled Web Design.

If you already have a developer background learning to make gradients, backgrounds and buttons using CSS3 will come much more natural to you.

The 2nd Book is Responsive Web Design from A Book Apart that is set to release in June.

Ethan Marcotte will explore CSS techniques and design principles, including fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries, demonstrating how you can deliver a quality experience to your users no matter how large (or small) their display.

Technology moves very fast in Web design so be careful that you don't buy any books that are out dated.


A good title for you would be "How to Wow: Photoshop for the Web" by Jan Kabili and Colin Smith. It covers what you're asking about. Another "how to" book that isn't directly web-oriented but will give you the techniques you're looking for, and then some, is "Photoshop Classic Effects" by Scott Kelby, which is a cookbook of exactly what the title implies: classic effects, and how to accomplish them in Photoshop.


For books on learning Photoshop, I highly recommend Photoshop WOW. I learned Photoshop on version 2 of the book.

The book goes in details about the ins and outs of Photoshop, as well as tutorials on achieving various effects. The book is printed in full color, and is divided into different chapters. Each chapter touches on an effect. Its intro chapters teach you about the basics, such as setting up workspace, color modes, short cuts etc.

There are plenty nicely written online tutorials as well. Some assume you have some knowledge of PS already. Here are a few good ones:



http://vector.tutsplus.com/category/tutorials/ (mostly Illustrator)



or change the psd to web for web design tuts.

These guys teach everything you need to know to design almost anything you will encounter.

smashing magazine . com is also great for tutorials.

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