30 Essential Books for Web Professionals

Keeping up to date on the latest technologies, marketing concepts and internet trends can be a daunting task. There is never enough time in the day to stay on top of everything. Trying to find the right reading material can be just as challenging. To help, I’ve compiled a list of the essential books I have utilized to keep me in the loop over the last few years.

  • Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business
    Marketers must look to the Web for new ways of finding customers and communicating with them, rather than at them. From Facebook and YouTube to blogs and Twitter-ing, social media on the Internet is the most promising new way to reach customers.
  • Word of Mouth Marketing, Revised Edition
    Who Is Talking About You?Master the art of word of mouth marketing with this practical hands-on guide.With straightforward advice and humor, marketing expert Andy Sernovitz will show you how the world-s most respected and profitable companies get their best customers for free through the power of word of mouth.
  • Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
    While at first glance this volume might resemble the latest in a series of trendy business advice books, ultimately it is about storytelling, and it is a how-to for crafting a compelling narrative. Employing a lighthearted tone, the Heaths apply those selfsame techniques to create an enjoyable read.
  • A Whole New Mind
    “Abundance, Asia, and automation.” Try saying that phrase five times quickly, because if you don’t take these words into serious consideration, there is a good chance that sooner or later your career will suffer because of one of those forces.
  • Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works
    This book meets a major, previously unmet need of a very large audience: almost everyone who works on a web site. As Ginny points out, good writing is a critical success factor for every web site, and the really good book about how to write for the web just doesn’t exist.
  • World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories
    A World Wide Rave is when people around the world are talking about you, your company, and your products. It’s when communities eagerly link to your stuff on the Web. It’s when online buzz drives buyers to your virtual doorstep. It’s when tons of fans visit your Web site and your blog because they genuinely want to be there.
  • Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
    Usability design is one of the most important–yet often least attractive–tasks for a Web developer. In Don’t Make Me Think, author Steve Krug lightens up the subject with good humor and excellent, to-the-point examples.
  • Designing With Web Standards (Voices That Matter)
    Standards, argues Jeffrey Zeldman in Designing With Web Standards, are our only hope for breaking out of the endless cycle of testing that plagues designers hoping to support all possible clients. In this book, he explains how designers can best use standards–primarily XHTML and CSS, plus ECMAScript and the standard Document Object Model (DOM)–to increase their personal productivity and maximize the availability of their creations.
  • Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer
    Stop guessing, start testing, and enjoy greater success with your website. If you’re looking for more leads, sales, and profit from your website, then look no further than this expert guide to Google’s free A/B and multivariate website testing tool, Google Website Optimizer.
  • Web Analytics: An Hour a Day
    Written by an in-the-trenches practitioner, this step-by-step guide shows you how to implement a successful Web analytics strategy. Web analytics expert Avinash Kaushik, in his thought-provoking style, debunks leading myths and leads you on a path to gaining actionable insights from your analytics efforts.
  • The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
    Tim Ferriss has spent more than five years learning the secrets of the New Rich, a fast-growing subculture who has abandoned the “deferred-life plan” and instead mastered the new currencies—time and mobility—to create luxury lifestyles in the here and now.
  • Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day
    If the idea of starting a social media marketing campaign overwhelms you, the author of Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day will introduce you to the basics, demonstrate how to manage details and describe how you can track results. Case studies, step-by-step guides, checklists, quizzes and hands-on tutorials will help you execute a social media marketing campaign in just one hour a day.
  • Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time
    Social media has given online business the fuel to ride the next wave of the Internet for many years to come. If you want to be on the cutting edge of strategies that are being implemented by the most successful businesses, Twitter Power is a must-read. Joel has done a great job of demonstrating how a minor investment of time and energy can result in long-term payoffs.
  • Build Your Own Web Site The Right Way Using HTML & CSS
    Build Your Own Website The Right Way Using HTML & CSS, 2nd Edition teaches web development from scratch, without assuming any previous knowledge of HTML, CSS or web development techniques. This book introduces you to HTML and CSS as you follow along with the author, step-by-step, to build a fully functional web site from the ground up.
  • Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions
    How much money are you losing because of poor landing page design? In this comprehensive, step-by-step guide, you’ll learn all the skills necessary to dramatically improve your bottom line, including identifying mission critical parts of your website and their true economic value, defining important visitor classes and key conversion tasks, gaining insight on customer decision-making, uncovering problems with your page and deciding which elements to test, developing an action plan, and avoiding common pitfalls.
  • Building Findable Websites: Web Standards SEO and Beyond
    This is not another SEO book written for marketing professionals. Between these covers you’ll find practical advice and examples for people who build websites aiming to reach their target audience.
  • The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly
    Though it may not yet have affected the value of 30 seconds of Super Bowl advertising, PR insider Scott argues that understanding the growing irrelevance of marketing’s “old rules” is vital to thriving in the new media jungle.
  • Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Web Site (2nd Edition)
    In this book, two world-class experts present today’s best practices, step-by-step techniques, and hard-won tips for using search engine marketing to achieve your sales and marketing goals, whatever they are.
  • Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
    Corporate executives are struggling with a new trend: people using online social technologies (blogs, social networking sites, YouTube, podcasts) to discuss products and companies, write their own news, and find their own deals. This groundswell is global, it s unstoppable, it affects every industry and it s utterly foreign to the powerful companies running things now.
  • Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules (IBM Press)
    In this book, Internet marketing pioneer Mike Moran shows you how to do that–step-by-step and in detail. Drawing on his experience building ibm.com into one of the world’s most successful sites, Moran shows how to quickly transition from “plan then execute” to a non-stop cycle of refinement.
  • Web Design for ROI: Turning Browsers into Buyers & Prospects into Leads
    Your web site is a business–design it like one. Billions of dollars in spending decisions are influenced by web sites. So why aren’t businesses laser-focused on designing their sites to maximize their Return on Investment (ROI)?
  • Killer Web Content: Make the Sale, Deliver the Service, Build the Brand
    Written by an internationally acclaimed specialist in this field, Killer Web Content provides the strategies and practical techniques you need to get the very best out of your web content.
  • Building Findable Websites: Web Standards SEO and Beyond
    This is not another SEO book written for marketing professionals. Between these covers you’ll find practical advice and examples for people who build websites aiming to reach their target audience. Each chapter will introduce you to best practices and fresh perspectives on how to accomplish these simple, yet indispensable goals
  • Killer Web Content: Make the Sale, Deliver the Service, Build the Brand
    Written by an internationally acclaimed specialist in this field, Killer Web Content provides the strategies and practical techniques you need to get the very best out of your web content.
  • Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy Every Time
    When it comes to copy, what works in the brick – and mortar world does not necessarily grab Web consumers…and with new developments like social networks, blogs, and YouTube, the strategies that worked even a few years ago, are unlikely to grab people’s attention today.
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
    Five years ago, Jim Collins asked the question, “Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?” In Good to Great Collins, the author of Built to Last, concludes that it is possible, but finds there are no silver bullets.
  • The Findability Formula: The Easy, Non-Technical Approach to Search Engine Marketing
    To be successful in business you must be able to attract the right clients and persuade them to buy. However, on the internet, people only see what the search engines direct them to and the competition for those top spots is fierce. So how do you ensure that your business is front-and-center when prospects are searching for solutions? The answer is The Findability Formula.
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    With first-chapter allusions to martial arts, “flow,” “mind like water,” and other concepts borrowed from the East (and usually mangled), you’d almost think this self-helper from David Allen should have been called Zen and the Art of Schedule Maintenance.
  • The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It
    The E-Myth, Michael Gerber dispels the myths surrounding starting your own business and shows how commonplace assumptions can get in the way of running a business.
  • Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More
    In the most important business book since The Tipping Point, Chris Anderson shows how the future of commerce and culture isn’t in hits, the high-volume head of a traditional demand curve, but in what used to be regarded as misses–the endlessly long tail of that same curve.


  1. Are any of you familiar with research containing data regarding the “quality” of print products (Merchandise Catalogs and Direct Mail Response Pieces) and the corresponding response rates and ROI?

  2. Brilliant post, nicely done. And thanks for mentioning all that info – you have introduced to me to three new blogs and I love them all! Cheers 🙂

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